About 10 weeks after the Brexit date, on 29 March, this scenario strengthened in Brussels, especially when the British still could not agree on the kind of divorce they could accept.
Theresa May survived yesterday on a motion of censure, requested by the opposition in Parliament.
Fearing a chaotic Brexit, the European Union (EU) is willing to give its approval to a postponement of the British withdrawal, but if there are strong guarantees in London, warn the European diplomats.
The EU should currently consider a delay of several months, and not just a few weeks, say the British media. "Speculations", respond to the sources consulted by the AFP, which they consider "premature" to set the duration.
"There are many ideas circulating and I'm sure it's one of these," but first London should ask for something to seriously discuss it, says one of these sources, who asked for anonymity.
The European Commission spokesperson, Margaritis Schinas, assured at the press conference that she had not received any requests. If it does arrive, it should be motivated and the 27 London partners should accept it with "unanimity".
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The Europeans would undoubtedly give their approval to avoid a divorce without agreement, seen as the worst case scenario, according to various diplomatic sources.
"It is not so easy to give more time", says a European official, for whom this scenario would prolong uncertainty. "Companies and citizens want to know if the United Kingdom remains or not," he says.
An extension of Article 50, activated by London to leave the EU, "should allow for the finalization of procedures", such as ratification, but does not allow the United Kingdom more time to be d & # 39; agreement, he adds.
Implied message: the EU will only grant this postponement with the guarantee that the United Kingdom has been able to gather around a firm position, which would allow an early conclusion of an agreement.
"If they tell us that it is to organize new elections or a new referendum, it would be part of the acceptable reasons," adds a diplomat, but "it must be for a short period, only a few weeks".
Indeed, if the United Kingdom continues to be part of the EU when the European elections are scheduled to take place on 23 and 26 May, London would be "obliged to organize the elections", says a European official.
For many this would mean a legal puzzle for the EU. "The British could have MEPs during a provisional period", commented a perplexed diplomat until his departure.
A "surmountable" problem
The new holders of the 27 of the 73 British seats, which the EU has approved to assign to other countries such as France or Spain, after the Brexit, "should wait for the British march to occupy them," he adds.
A diplomat admits to fear that London will take advantage of the legal fragility of this unprecedented configuration to "take the European legislative process hostage" and obtain new concessions.
"What is realistic is a postponement up to the constituent session of the European Parliament at the beginning of July", according to another diplomat, who would exclude the arrival of the new British MEPs.
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The hypothesis of a United Kingdom still in the EU during the European elections "would be a problem, but surmountable," says Pierre Vimont, former number two of European diplomacy and current analyst at Carnegie Europe.
"And these elections in Britain could also be an opportunity to get to know the mood of British citizens," he adds.
The current official position of the British government is, however, contrary to the postponement of Brexit. "It is not a problem that we talked to the EU because we do not want to do it," said a spokesperson for the "premier" Theresa May.