The powerful backbencher argued the UK should put up a fight against the EU in its Parliament if it is forced to remain a member of the bloc for longer than a few weeks. He wrote on Twitter: “If a long extension leaves us stuck in the EU we should be as difficult as possible. “We could veto any increase in the budget, obstruct the putative EU army and block Mr Macron’s integrationist schemes.”
This comes as the Prime Minister has formally asked the EU for a second short extension to Article 50, to last until June 30, in a bid to avoid a no deal Brexit at midnight on April 12.
In a letter to Mr Tusk, the European Council president, she said: “I am writing to inform the European Council that the UK is seeking a further extension to the period provided under Article 50(3) of the Treaty of the European Union, including as applied by Article 106a of the Euratom Treaty.
“The UK proposes that this period should end on 30 June 2019.
“If the parties are able to ratify before this date, the Government proposes that the period should be terminated early.”
In her plea to Brussels, the Prime Minister conceded that the UK may still need more time to command a majority in Parliament on a Brexit deal.
As Parliament has ruled out a no deal Brexit, the Government would then need a longer delay, which may trap the UK under the bloc’s regulations for months and force the country to take part in the European election in May.
Mrs May’s letter continued: “The Government will want to agree on a timetable for ratification that allows the UK to withdraw from the EU before 23 May 2019 and therefore cancel the European Parliament elections, but will continue to make responsible preparations to hold the elections should this not prove possible.”
The length of a longer extension hasn’t been thrashed out yet.
But, according to an EU source, Mr Tusk has recommended to the 27 remaining member states to offer the UK a one-year Brexit extension, with a break clause allowing earlier withdrawal if a deal is ratified.
However, France has already signalled Emmanuel Macron may oppose to another Brexit delay, which must be unanimously granted by the EU27, and branded “clumsy” comments mentioning a flexible extension.
A source close to the French President said: “It is premature to talk of an extension despite the fact the 27 had set a clear pre-condition: the need for a credible alternative plan justifying this request. We’re not there today.
“Rumours about this extension are a clumsy trial balloon, the different options will be discussed on April 10 and nothing has been decided.
“In any case, we need a clear plan from London by Tuesday.”
Mrs May will meet leaders of the EU member states on April 10, when the Yvette Cooper’s bill ruling out a no deal Brexit is expected to be in place.
After it was approved by just one vote on Wednesday night by MPs, the bill has been debated for hours in the House of Lords on Thursday, and a vote on it is expected to take place on Monday.