UK agrees EU request to delay ratification of Brexit deal by two months

The British government has accepted a request from the European Commission to push back the deadline by which the Brexit deal must be ratified until April 30.

Provisional application of the Brexit deal agreed back in December has been due to cease on February 28, however the European Union has struggled to translate the document into the 23 official languages and distribute to member state officials and MEPs for proper scrutiny in the two months they’ve had to date.

The deal was expediently signed off on the UK side since January with Parliament receiving just two days to debate the detail, however the European Parliament has not even begun the process of ratification.

Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic wrote to the UK’s interim co-chair of the Partnership Council, Michael Gove on Friday asking for the delay and the UK has today reluctantly agreed.

In his response, Mr Gove said that “provisionaly applying the Agreement was not the United Kingdom’s preferred outcome given the uncertainty it creates for indivuduals and businesses. Extending the period of provisional application prolongs that uncertainty.”

Mr Gove continued by making it clear that the government expects the European Union to have satisifed its internal requirements by April 30 and hopes Britain will “therefore not be asked to further extend the period of provisional application beyond April 30.”

The European Union was already suggesting the idea of delaying formal ratification over a month ago.

“The European Parliament needs more time, the Council needs more time to produce the authentic language versions and there’s also this discussion on governance which is also going to be more protracted than people thought,” one diplomat told Irish broadcaster, RTE.

With the volume of issue that have arisen since Britain formally left the European single market and customs union on December 31, namely the shellfish ban, the underwhelming deal on fishing, the NI Protocol and the absence of visa exemptions for touring musicians, ratification of the agreement may not be as smooth sailing as some would like.