Brexit may have to delayed with key issues not resolved

LONDON Britain's official departure from the European Union may have to be delayed with many key negotiating issues still to be resolved, Westminster's Brexit committee suggested yesterday.

In a new report on the progress of negotiations, the Exiting the European Union Committee said there had been "little progress made" on key issues, including how to maintain an open border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Britain is set to leave the EU on March 29, 2019, almost three years after the referendum vote for Brexit, and negotiations on the future partnership are meant to be wrapped up by October.

"If substantial aspects of the future partnership remain to be agreed in October 2018, the government should seek a limited extension to the Article 50 time," said the committee, whose members predominately supported staying in the EU during the referendum.

Chair of the committee Hilary Benn said negotiations were now at "a critical stage".

"The government must now come forward with credible, detailed proposals as to how it can operate a 'frictionless border' between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland," said the opposition Labour MP.

"We know of no international border, other than the internal borders of the EU, that operates without checks and physical infrastructure. This is deeply concerning."

Other issues to be resolved include the status of EU citizens arriving in Britain during a transition period - when Britain will continue to follow EU law in return for access to the bloc's single market for up to two years after leaving.

The committee warned that affording such citizens different rights from those arriving before Britain officially leaves may be "inconsistent" with EU law. - AFP