Britain has been given a new deadline of October 31 to exit the European Union following a series of marathon meetings between leaders at the latest summit in Brussels last night. European Council President Donald Tusk urged Britain “not to waste time” and warned the extension could be terminated if a withdrawal deal is agreed, explaining the “course of action will be entirely in the UK’s hands”. But European Commissioner Mr Oettinger suggested all options remain on the table – including enabling the UK to remain in the European Union for an extended period.
He said each of the available options would be far better than Britain leaving the EU without a Brexit deal, but is still hopeful Mrs May’s deal can be successfully voted through in Westminster.
Mr Oettinger told German broadcaster Deutschlandfunk: “A second referendum would be conceivable. It would also be conceivable that there will be new elections.
“In short, there are a few options, and each would be better than having an exit without any regulation.
“If the British agree to the withdrawal agreement in the next few days or a few weeks before the election, everything would be clear.
“If there are constructive debates by the end of October, but no solution, it will be possible to renew the membership of the British in the EU by three months to half a year or a year until the end of 2020. Everything is possible.”
Despite tempers flaring at the meeting last night, Mr Oettinger insisted unity throughout the EU remains strong, but sent a thinly-veiled warning to anyone thinking about challenging their authority.
When asked if the Brexit chaos at the summit was an opportunity for the EU to present itself as being united, Mr Oettinger replied: “Once again, it has been the case for three years.
“Since the referendum there have been speculations that 27 will split up, that there will be some who want a different solution with Great Britain than others.
“No, that’s not the case. Even our most difficult candidates are ready to not challenge the unity of the EU and to act as one.”
Mr Oettinger also launched a scathing attack against Brexiteers trying too drive bigger wedges into the EU by constantly interfering in Britain’s exit from the bloc.
When asked about efforts from Brexiteers to block the current process as much as possible, the European Commission name-dropped former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.
He raged: “Their statements were not very helpful either.
“Boris Johnson and 80, 90 MPs will do anything, have already done everything to make life difficult for Europe.”
Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg.