London mayor Sadiq Khan has urged the EU to begin preparations to delay Brexit to allow time for a second referendum on membership or a change of government to negotiate a “good deal”.
The Labour mayor held talks with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier in Brussels today, saying he wanted to avert a “political and economic crisis”. Mr Khan’s visit was the latest by a UK politician to Brussels for talks with Mr Barnier as the two sides seek a workable Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.
Britain is currently due to leave the EU next March, leaving just five months to complete a workable Withdrawal Agreement and have it ratified by national parliaments.
After talks that lasted an hour in Brussels, Mr Khan said that Mr Barnier had been “willing to listen” to concerns about the negotiations. The mayor said:
“I made the point that a bad Brexit deal, or even worse no deal whatsoever, it’s bad for London, it’s bad for our country but it is bad for the EU as well.
“He gets that. The point I’m sure he would make if he was here is that the ball is in the court of the British prime minister and it’s important that we understand the consequences of the Article 50 notice being served when it was.” London voted heavily in favour of Remain in the 2016 referendum.
On Saturday, Mr Khan was among the politicians who attended a march by hundreds of thousands of people through the capital, thought to have been the biggest anti-Brexit demonstration since the referendum. Theresa May doesn’t speak for the entire country when she talks about a bad Brexit deal or no deal whatsoever.
Speaking before the meeting, he said he wanted to tell Mr Barnier to pass on the message that Article 50 should be extended because “what happens over the coming weeks and months will have an enormous impact on London, the UK and all of Europe for many decades to come”.
He said that he had presented different views to Mr Barnier to those expressed by Tory Brexiteers including Iain Duncan Smith, Owen Paterson and Lord Trimble, who spoke to him in Brussels last week.
Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable, the Scottish National Party’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford, Plaid Cymru Westminster leader Liz Saville Roberts and Green MEP Molly Scott Cato held talks with the EU negotiator for an hour at his Brussels office on Thursday.
After Friday’s meeting Mr Khan said: “It was really important to engage with him, to express to him the different views there are in our country.
“Theresa May doesn’t speak for the entire country when she talks about a bad Brexit deal or no deal whatsoever. “I genuinely believe there is time for a better deal to be done. I genuinely believe there is a generosity, a goodwill on the part of the EU.
“My job is to also lobby my government to make sure they understand the consequences of a bad Brexit deal or or, even worse, no deal whatsoever.”