UK could remain in EU till late 2019: Ministers

LONDON: The United Kingdom could remain in the European Union until late 2019 as civil servants are struggling with Brexit, and elections in France and Germany may hold up the start of exit negotiations, ministers have privately warned.

Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to enact Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, which would start a two-year countdown to leaving the bloc.

However, she might have to postpone it because her new Brexit and international trade departments are not ready, according to The Sunday Times.

“Ministers are now thinking the [Article 50] trigger could be delayed to autumn 2017,” said one City source who had talked to two senior ministers on the issue. “They don’t have the infrastructure for the people they need to hire. They say they don’t even know the right questions to ask when they finally begin bargaining with Europe.”
“You can’t negotiate when you don’t know who you’re negotiating with,” added the source.