A leading government minister has revealed that Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, and therefore the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, may be delayed until 2026 at the earliest due to a ‘huge backlog’ in Brussels – he confirmed that senior politicians in Brussels haven’t even started working on Article 1 yet.

Charles Cottage is the Senior Minister for Brexit Administration, and he told Southend News Network’s Chief Reporter that the delays in Brussels may be part of a ‘deliberate plot’ to delay the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union for as long as possible.

He said: ‘I checked again this morning with some contacts in Brussels, and they confirmed that all of the articles of Lisbon Treaty are going to be processed in strict numerical order. At the present time, Article 1 is still in its preliminary stage, and the requests are handled by a single member of staff.’

‘Therefore, because Articles 1 to 49 still need to be triggered and processed accordingly, we could have an incredibly long wait until Article 50 is sorted out, and even at that stage there will still be a further two-year wait before our withdrawal from the European Union is finalised.’

‘My department has been looking at the schedule closely, and our best estimate is that Article 50 will not be reached until 2026 at the very earliest. Frankly, I am astonished that the Vote Leave campaign didn’t point this out in the months leading up to the referendum as it would have probably encouraged a lot of people to vote the other way.’

‘On the other hand, there are also a number of figures in government who feel that this is a deliberate tactic by Brussels to delay Brexit for as long as possible. They have made no secret of the fact that they are dead against Brexit, and they know that from a legal point of view there is nothing that we can do about this delay.’

Natasha Backtith was the senior communications manager for the Vote Leave campaign, and she told Southend News Network that she was unaware of any possible delay tactics in the run-up to the vote on June 23rd.

She added: ‘This sort of underhand Brussels skullduggery was the main reason why we campaigned so passionately to leave the EU in the first place. As far as they are concerned, they feel like they are entitled to try every trick in the book and they are probably thinking that we will just forget about it and give up.’