Ireland says extension of 21 months would allow 'rethink' of Brexit

Ireland's Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney speaks to Reuters during an interview in Dublin, Ireland, February 15, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said on Thursday the European Union may offer Britain to delay its exit from the bloc by up to 21 months in what may lead to a “fundamental rethink” of British policy on the matter.

“If you have a long extension of Article 50, that opens up the debate in a much broader way to the overall approach that the United Kingdom takes to Brexit. That may facilitate a fundamental rethink, it may not, we just don’t know,” Coveney told RTE radio in an interview.

“If you have a long extension of, say 21 months to the end of 2020 - whatever the period would be - then Britain has a legal entitlement to have representation in the European parliament” and so must take part in EU elections, he said.

Reporting by Conor Humphries; Editing by Alison Williams