THE European Union has dismissed Gordon Brown’s suggestion it will “withdraw” the current deadline for Brexit at the end of October.

Brown told a think tank yesterday his belief was based on talks with EU leaders in recent days.

The SNP has accused the former prime minister of “clutching at straws” and said his comments should be “taken with a pinch of salt”.

“I have actually been talking to some European leaders this week,” the former Labour Prime Minister told a seminar in Edinburgh.

“I believe that next week the European Union will withdraw the October 31 deadline and remove the excuse that Boris Johnson has and the claim that he’s making that it’s the European Union being inflexible in their timing, and make it possible for MPs to vote [against a] No-Deal Brexit.”

But a European Commission official told The National: “Our working assumption is that the UK will leave on October 31.

“The European Council agreed on 10 April to extend Article 50 to October 31. The decision was taken at the request of and in agreement with the United Kingdom.

“As we have said before, we stand ready to engage constructively with the UK on any concrete proposals that are compatible with the withdrawal agreement. A No-Deal scenario will only ever be the UK’s decision, not the EU’s.”

Article 50 says membership ceases to apply to the state which is leaving two years after notification of departure, or unless the European Council, in agreement with the state concerned, decides to extend the departure period.

It means the EU cannot withdraw any deadlines, and extensions have to be requested by the member state that is leaving and agreed to by all other members.

Brown told the seminar he understood France’s president Emmanuel Macron, the prime mover behind the October 31 deadline when it was agreed, no longer insisted upon it.

Brown said although EU leaders could not unilaterally annul the deadline, he now expected them to say they were ready and willing to extend it, adding to the pressure on Johnson to avoid No Deal.

Johnson has pinned his premiership on leaving the bloc on Halloween, saying the UK would leave the EU then “do or die”.

Speaking to the media, Brown said: “I think [the EU] will withdraw [the October 31 deadline]. That’s what I believe they should do and I believe they will do.

“It’s got to be an offer. Under Article 50 it’s by agreement.”

He added he believed there would be the required unanimity on the part of the EU27.

SNP MEP Alyn Smith was sceptical, saying: “This latest intervention from Gordon Brown strikes me as fanciful, it isn’t even a Vow.

“I dare say he speaks to people I don’t, but until I hear such an idea from Donald Tusk, Ursula von der Leyen, Michel Barnier or someone involved in the talks I’ll take it with a pinch of salt.”

“The problem is a hopelessly divided Tory party, hell bent on crashing the UK and Scotland with it.

He added: “We’re facing this because we did not vote for independence in 2014. Many people I’ve spoken to in recent months are actively reconsidering how they voted in 2014.

“Perhaps Mr Brown could do the same rather than clutch at straws I’m not convinced exist.”