The European Union (EU) could force Britain to wait until June to start formal Brexit talks, thwarting Theresa May’s efforts to secure a deal within two years.
Brussels’ eight week delay risks upsetting banks and businesses eager to seek clarity on the terms of Brexit.
Crucially the plans for a summer meeting eat into the already tight two year leaving period under the Lisbon Treaty.
EU officials, under condition of anonymity, told Bloomberg Politics government ministers could meet in Luxembourg on June 20, almost a year since the EU referendum, to open the talks.
The time-wasting comes despite plans for the leaders of EU countries to draw up a framework for talks in April or May.
Brussels red tape means talks cannot formally begin until ministers approve detailed negotiations directives from the European Commission.