Brexit deadline can be extended, says top EU job candidate

Ursula von der Leyen Credit: AP

The candidate expected to take over as head of the EU executive said she is willing to grant another Brexit extension if the UK needs it.

The UK's departure from the EU has already been pushed back from its original deadline of March 29 to October 31, 2019 after Theresa May asked Brussels for more time.

Ursula von der Leyen said: “I stand ready for a further extension of the withdrawal date should more time be required.”

Ms von der Leyen, the outgoing German defence minister, looks set to take over Jean-Claude Juncker as President of the European Commission in a vote today.

She is the outgoing German defence minister and has been trying to drum up enough support amongst MEPs. To secure the role, she needs to get at least 374 votes out of 747.

The Christian Democrat of the European People’s Party said climate and social issues are among her priorities over the next five years.

Ms von der Leyen's candidacy to succeed Juncker has sparked controversy at the European Parliament.

Ursula von der Leyen will be hoping to secure enough support from MEPs. Credit: AP

A number of MEPs feel they have not been listened to in the appointment process for what is considered one of the EU's top jobs.

Their candidates for the Commisioner job, arguably the most important in Brussels, was rejected by EU leaders.

If her nomination is rejected by MEPs, a number of EU top job appointments could be thrown out, possibly putting the EU on the brink of a constitutional crisis.

Ms von der Leyen's supporters believe she will win just enough votes to put her through.

Theresa May asked Brussels for an extension to the Brexit deadline earlier this year. Credit: AP

However the Greens and socialists have already said they will reject her nomination.

“This is about much more than a personnel issue,” senior Social Democrat MEP Katarina Barley told ZDF television.

“In the election campaign, we called for the EU to become more democratic – including with the ‘lead candidate’ principle. "We think it is very important that the Council cannot simply throw that in the trash with loud applause from right-wing populists.”