‘Stop the Clock’ on Brexit, Cyprus Finance Minister Urges

(Bloomberg) --

The U.K. and the European Union should postpone Brexit to avoid Britain crashing out of the bloc without an agreement, Cyprus Finance Minister Harris Georgiades said, adding that a request for a “small extension” of the process would be acceptable to the other EU nations.

“We should stop the clock -- give it more time in order to come to an agreed exit,” Georgiades said in an interview with Bloomberg Television in Brussels on Tuesday. “We fully respect the Brexit decision, but exiting without a deal is really unthinkable.”

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May is set to ask the House of Commons in London to give her more time to try to renegotiate her Brexit deal with the EU so that she can press the talks to the last minute. Britain is scheduled to leave the EU on March 29 with or without a divorce deal to cushion the blow.

“Offering some more time would not be a problem; it would be accepted; and that would be my recommendation,” Georgiades said. “This is a big European and global issue, and I think we should be very sensible about it.”

Governments and businesses across Europe are increasingly worried about the potential economic impact of a no-deal Brexit. Maltese Finance Minister Edward Scicluna warned on Monday that Britain crashing out without an agreement would be like an “atomic bomb for everybody.”

The European Commission last week warned that the “large uncertainty” surrounding the U.K.’s departure from the EU is one of the factors clouding the region’s outlook as the bloc’s executive slashed its growth forecasts for this year.

“Getting rid of the uncertainty is what I am suggesting,” Georgiades said in the interview. “It’s not an issue of making a u-turn -- it’s an issue of getting whatever needs to be in place in place before we actually execute the exit,” he said.

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