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Sunday, March 18, 2018, 16:14
Lawmakers say UK should consider postponing Brexit
By Associated Press
Sunday, March 18, 2018, 16:14 By Associated Press

In this Feb 9, 2016 file photo, the HSBC bank headquarters building is seen in London. International bank HSBC is moving hundreds of jobs from London to Paris, where it will set up EU headquarters. (FRANK AUGSTEIN/ AP)

LONDON — Britain should consider postponing Brexit because there may not be enough time to strike a deal with the European Union before the UK leaves the bloc a year from now, a key committee of British lawmakers said Sunday.

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

Hilary Benn, Chairman, House of Commons Exiting the EU Committee

The House of Commons Exiting the EU Committee said if major aspects of the future relationship with the EU remain unsettled by October, Britain should seek a "limited extension" of its EU membership.

Britain and the EU want a deal on future relations settled by the fall so national parliaments can approve it before Britain officially leaves the 28-nation bloc on March 29, 2019.

READ MORE: EU unveils Brexit draft, ramping up pressure on Britain

In a report published Sunday, the lawmakers said a proposed transition period of about two years should also be able to be extended if needed. The two sides have agreed in principle that Britain will continue to remain part of the bloc's structures and rules until the end of 2020.

Seven pro-Brexit members of the 21-member all-party committee refused to back the report, preparing an alternative version that took a more uncompromising tone toward the EU.

The majority-backed report said it is worrying that there has been "little progress" in solving the key issue of how to maintain an open border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland after Brexit.

In this Dec 8, 2017 photo, an anti-Brexit demonstrator waves EU and British flags in Westminster in London. (KIRSTY WIGGLESWORTH / AP)

Britain and the EU agree there must be no customs posts or other infrastructure along the all-but-invisible border, but the committee said Britain has yet to put forward credible proposals for how this could work.

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"We know of no international border, other than the internal borders of the EU, that operates without checks and physical infrastructure," said the committee's chairman, Labour lawmaker Hilary Benn.

The pro-Brexit dissenters filed an alternative document, accusing the EU of taking an unhelpful approach to the border issue. They suggested that new technology and "streamlined" customs arrangements can deliver a frictionless border.

Rather having Britain seek to extend its EU membership, the minority group said the UK should walk away without a deal if talks bog down.

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