March 24, 2016 / 10:03 PM / 2 years ago

Brexit referendum forces EU summit delay: sources

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The British referendum on whether to leave the European Union has prompted Brussels officials to plan to postpone an EU summit scheduled on the same day, several EU sources told Reuters.

A worker answers a telephone in the office of Brexit group pressure group "Leave.eu" in London, Britain February 12, 2016. REUTERS/Neil Hall

The regular June meeting of the European Council, the heads of state and government of the 28 member states, would convene on Monday and Tuesday, June 27-28, a four-day delay, one said, although that was yet to be confirmed by all the participants.

European Council officials had no official comment.

Last month, Prime Minister David Cameron scheduled the “Brexit” referendum for June 23 -- British elections are always on Thursdays -- meaning that the result would be known just as leaders were finishing dinner on the first day of a summit long scheduled for June 23-24.

By delaying the Council, officials hope to ensure that the other leaders are able to take considered decisions in response to the referendum result. Opinion polls are tight as Cameron seeks to persuade Britons of the value of EU membership.

A vote to leave would strike a heavy blow at a Union already in crisis, depriving it of its second biggest economy. It would start a process of negotiation with London on the terms of a new relationship in trade and others areas likely to last for years.

Additional reporting by Jan Strupczewski and Alastair Macdonald; Writing by Alastair Macdonald; Editing by Sandra Maler

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