Brexit day is meant to be 29 March 2019. But now British MPs have rejected no deal and the deal on the table, and voted for an extension to the timetable to 30 June, it seems certain the talks will go into extra time. How does that work? Extending Brexit is a job for EU leaders, say numerous diplomatic sources. The EU’s 27 heads of state and government would have to decide unanimously at an EU summit on Thursday 21 March. But first the UK has to ask. The EU cannot consider the question until the British government makes a formal request to extend article 50. Would the EU say yes? Probably. While any single country has the right to block a Brexit extension, most diplomats think the EU would agree, although this cannot be taken for granted. In response to Thursday’s vote, the European commission stressed that the UK would not automatically be granted an extension, saying the EU would have to consider its own interests. The wildcard is that EU leaders have never discussed the … [Read more...] about Brexit: how would an extension to article 50 work?
Theresa May will embark on a final desperate scramble to win the Democratic Unionist party’s backing for her Brexit deal on Monday, in the hope that it could unlock parliament’s support at the third time of asking. With several prominent Brexiters, including the former work and pensions secretary Esther McVey, now willing to switch their vote and support the deal, government sources said they hoped DUP backing could create “a sense of momentum”. But with negotiations ongoing, ministers insisted on Sunday there would not be a third meaningful vote this week, before a crucial summit in Brussels, unless May believed she could win it. “We will only bring the deal back if we are confident that enough of our colleagues, and the DUP, are prepared to support it, so that we can get it through parliament. We’re not going to keep presenting it if we haven’t moved the dial,” said the chancellor, Philip Hammond. He was among senior ministers who met … [Read more...] about May in make-or-break bid to gain DUP support for her Brexit deal
Back in February, ITV’s Angus Walker reported on a very public conversation he had overheard in a Brussels hotel bar. The person doing the talking was the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator, Olly Robbins, who was chatting to colleagues over a drink. Mr Robbins voiced his view that the eventual choice for MPs in March would be whether to back Theresa May’s UK-EU Brexit deal or to extend the article 50 talks. The possibility that the extension might be a long one could focus the minds of MPs who had previously voted against the deal, Mr Robbins argued. In the vertiginous rollercoaster of argument over Brexit, few predictions have survived with much dignity for as long as five weeks. Yet, five weeks on, Mr Robbins’ prediction still looks shrewd. Less than a week after she heavily lost the second “meaningful” vote on her Brexit deal last Tuesday, Mrs May’s agreement has come back from the dead. She is now gearing up for one more heave, perhaps as soon as … [Read more...] about The Guardian view on Theresa May’s Brexit deal: third time unlucky
MPs have inflicted two more defeats on Theresa May, rejecting the idea of Britain leaving the EU without a deal and clearing the way for Brexit to be delayed. After the prime minister’s deal was heavily voted down for a second time on Tuesday, she announced a government motion ruling out a no-deal Brexit on 29 March – overturning her longstanding policy of refusing to rule it out. May promised MPs a free vote, but the motion was carefully worded, with the final sentence stating that, “leaving without a deal remains the default in UK and EU law unless this house and the EU ratify an agreement”. However, MPs voted by 312 to 308 to support a backbench amendment which struck out that last phrase so as to rule out a no-deal exit altogether. In chaotic scenes, the government then rescinded its promise of a free vote; and whipped its MPs to vote against the amended motion. Several cabinet ministers who have warned about the risks of a no-deal Brexit, including Philip … [Read more...] about MPs reject no-deal Brexit by majority of 43 in second vote
At the end of a convivial drinks party at the British ambassador’s grand 19th-century residence in Brussels on Tuesday evening the guests had to be politely ushered out of the exquisitely decorated rooms just after 9pm. Less than a mile up the road, on the 13th floor of the European commission’s Berlaymont headquarters, a dinner hosted by the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, and attended by the attorney general, Geoffrey Cox, the Brexit secretary, Stephen Barclay, and Sir Tim Barrow, Britain’s ambassador to the EU, had come to a close. And things had not gone well. As the British party arrived back at the ambassador’s residence, and the last of the guests disappeared into the night, attempts were made to craft a press statement, in cooperation with commission officials, that might express some optimism about the continuing negotiations, but without offering up hostages to fortune. But the words could not be found. It was not until the next morning, … [Read more...] about Bluster, rhetoric – but no results: last desperate chance to save the deal