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The EU would not allow a short delay; two years has already been suggested. And if there is to be another referendum, then the UK's formally-required timeline is about a year. And subsequent to the referendum, there would need to be a period to either negotiate another deal or to negotiate the UK's new position within the EU. So a two year delay would be appropriate from both the EU and UK sides.
That would be two more years of business uncertainty and political foolishness for everybody, at a time when the overall geopolitical situation is already pretty tense. Who can say now what the Brexiteers will come up with as a ploy to win another referendum? Who can say what a new PM would do, if there is one? Who can say what the Spanish election or a multitude of other EU considerations might bring? Who can say what will happen if Trump is impeached?
If the EU gives an extension it will be a blink on their part.
The EU has already said it will not extend A.50 simply to extend current negotiations. It would be illogical for it to do so as it's position is that the Withdrawal Agreement is not open for re-negotiation.
However NOT extending means almost certain immediate no-deal Brexit which is its least preferred option and any extension increases the chances of Brexit not happening after all, so it does have a strong incentive to find some pretext for extension.
So ideally an extension would be granted where there is a second referendum or a general election in prospect and it's length would be determined by however long it takes for that process to be completed - perhaps 3-6 months.
I know there has been some talk of a 1-2 year extension but that seems to have been mainly to put the wind up Brexiteers that Brexit may never happen unless they agree to May's deal.
Ultimately it's up to the UK to request an extension and to state how long they want it for. But the EU is within its rights to ask "what for?" and to place some conditions on granting it.
In my view the very act of asking for an extension is an instance of Britain blinking and accepting it needs to have a rethink on the whole thing. The EU can be quite clear that granting an extension is conditional on accepting the existing deal or coming up with a radically new plan acceptable to the EU.
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🇪🇺🗳DYK that most EU citizens in the UK can still vote in the #EUElections2019 despite Brexit? We need your help to tell as many #EUcitizens as possible!Come to our #thistimeimvoting campaign event & get involved https://t.co/lLyqVaucHH📅 5 March📍Churchgate House, #Manchester pic.twitter.com/Qi2r0ydZIg— Europarl UK (@EPinUK) February 27, 2019
🇪🇺🗳DYK that most EU citizens in the UK can still vote in the #EUElections2019 despite Brexit? We need your help to tell as many #EUcitizens as possible!Come to our #thistimeimvoting campaign event & get involved https://t.co/lLyqVaucHH📅 5 March📍Churchgate House, #Manchester pic.twitter.com/Qi2r0ydZIg
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