Brexit could be delayed for third time, when necessary – EU Juncker’s successor Ursula von der Leyen

Ursula von der Leyen, the nominee to be the next European Commission president, has said that Brexit could be delayed for a third time, but warned London it must take responsibility for “sorting out” its tortured departure from the bloc.

She said the divorce deal agreed with Prime Minister Theresa May but rejected by British MPs was a good one, signalling that under her leadership the European Commission will be no more willing to renegotiate than before.

Brexit has been delayed twice already because of British lawmakers’ refusal to ratify the accord, but the two men vying to replace May both insist they will stick to the current departure date of 31 October come what may.

But Ms von der Leyen, who said she still hoped Britain would change its mind and stay in the EU, said that if London needed more time, another postponement should be granted.

“If the United Kingdom needs more time, I think that’s the right way to go,” she told Green members of the European Parliament.

Ursula von der Leyen, the nominee to lead the European commission, has signalled she will not reopen Brexit talks with the next British prime minister and stressed the “precious” Irish backstop must be defended.

She said she still hoped the UK would remain in the European Union, while indicating she had no intention to renegotiate the withdrawal deal agreed by Theresa May and EU leaders.

“I think it’s a good deal, but it is your responsibility and your noble task to sort this out,” she told a British Liberal Democrat MEP in the European parliament, in her first public comments on Brexit.

Ms Von der Leyen, nominated by EU national leaders last week to take over from Jean-Claude Juncker on 1 November, the day after Britain is due to leave, was wooing MEPs ahead of a confirmation vote in the European Parliament next week.