Brexit delay also in Netherlands' best interest, Dutch FM says
The Dutch government is willing to give the British another postponement for the United Kingdom's departure from the European Union, because it is also in the Netherlands best interest. "The Dutch interest is that there should be a regulated Brexit and not a hard Brexit. If postponement contributes to that, it is positive", Minister Stef Blok of Foreign Affairs said, NU.nl reports.
To grant a postponement, all 27 EU member states must unanimously agree. Blok does not expect that the other EU countries will stand in the way of a delay. "Ultimately, the colleagues also understand that a hard Brexit will cause a lot of damage." But a no-deal Brexit can not be ruled out, he added. "The risk is still there. We are prepared. Not because we like it, but because it can still happen", Blok said.
This statement by Blok seems somewhat at odds to statements Prime Minister Mark Rutte made before the first postponement. Rutte repeatedly said that if the British want a delay, they must also make clear what they plan to do with it. "If the UK ask for delay, the EU will ask what do you want with it? We don't want to go round in circles for the next couple of months. What will be achieved by it?" he said to the BBC in February.
The British were originally scheduled to leave the EU on March 29th. But as British politicians had not yet reached a consensus on a withdrawal agreement, and also did not want to leave the EU with no agreement in place, they asked for a postponement until June 30th. With the European elections scheduled for the end of May, that is a complicated date and the EU therefore granted the UK delay until April 12th.
Since there is still no consensus in the UK about a withdrawal deal, the British asked for another extension. Just like last time, British Prime Minister Theresa May asked for June 30th. The EU government leaders will meet in Brussels on Wednesday, where a decision will be made on the postponement.