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  1. #321
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    This Cooper-Letwin bill is a stupid distraction.

    Why should the EU grant us a long extension when Govt and Parliament are not presenting a proposal backed by a majority ?

  2. #322
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    Brexit: Cross-party talks enter second day

    Talks between Conservative and Labour teams are taking place for a second day as they try to end the Brexit deadlock.

    It follows discussions between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn on Wednesday, which were described as "constructive".

    Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said the idea of a "confirmatory" referendum on any Brexit deal would be discussed.

    MPs backed a bill, which would force the PM to seek a new delay to Brexit. Peers are due to debate it later.

    The UK is due to leave the EU on 12 April, and as yet, no withdrawal deal is in place.

    But Ministers have warned the backbench bill - put forward by Labour's Yvette Cooper - could increase "the risk of an accidental no-deal".

    No 10 says the bill, passed by the Commons with a majority of one vote on Wednesday, would deny the PM the power to agree a deal with EU leaders on April 10 - two days before exit - as MPs would have to agree to any new Brexit date.

    Any Brexit delay will require the unanimous backing of all 28 EU leaders at a summit next Wednesday.

    If they agree but suggest a different date to the one backed by MPs - the prime minister would have to bring it back to the Commons for further approval on Thursday 11 April.

    "By April 11, the European Council will have concluded and the leaders will have returned to their member states. In the words of the secretary of state, the bill could increase the risk of an accidental no-deal exit," the prime minister's spokesman said.

    The backbench bill will need the approval of the House of Lords if it is to become law. Lords are debating the procedure to bring forward the bill, before discussing the bill itself.

    But ultimately it is the EU which decides whether to grant an extension. European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen said a no-deal Brexit was still "highly likely".

    Arriving for the latest round of Conservative-Labour talks, shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said the idea of a "confirmatory" referendum on any Brexit deal would be discussed.

    "We have been discussing Labour's alternative plan and issues such as confirmatory votes," he said.

    Shadow Treasury minister Clive Lewis told BBC Radio 4's World at One that Labour would not be talking to the government "if there wasn't the possibility that Labour Party policy - which is to take this back to the public on any deal that is agreed by Parliament - couldn't be pursued and enacted".

    He said that even if a joint deal agreed by Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May was exactly the same as Labour's Brexit plan it should still go back to the public, with the option of remaining in the EU on the ballot paper.

    But it has emerged that party chairman Ian Lavery offered to quit the shadow cabinet, after twice defying orders to vote in favour of another referendum.

    And 25 Labour MPs - including former minister Caroline Flint and a number MPs for Leave-voting seats in the North and Midlands - have written to Jeremy Corbyn, saying another referendum should not be included in any compromise Brexit deal.

    They wrote: "Delaying for many months in the hope of a second referendum will simply divide the country further and add uncertainty for business.

    "A second referendum would be exploited by the far right, damage the trust of many core Labour voters and reduce our chances of winning a general election."

    Chancellor Philip Hammond has said he expects Brussels to insist on a lengthy delay to Brexit. He also described a public vote to approve any final deal as "a perfectly credible proposition".

    But Health Secretary Matt Hancock told BBC Radio 4 Today he was "very strongly against" a public vote and he would not want to see a long extension to Brexit.

    The cross-party talks have provoked strong criticism from MPs in both parties, with two ministers resigning on Wednesday.

    Reports in papers including the Sun suggest as many as 15 more - including several cabinet ministers - could follow if Mrs May strayed too far from previous commitments.

    Among Mrs May's "red lines" was leaving the EU's customs union, which allows goods to move between member states without being subject to tariffs. It also imposes the same tariffs on goods from outside countries.

    Labour wants a new permanent customs union with the EU, while Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party - which props up Mrs May's government - indicated on Wednesday that it could support the idea.

    The prime minister wants to agree a policy with the Labour leader for MPs to vote on before 10 April - when the EU will hold an emergency summit on Brexit.

    But if they cannot reach a consensus, she has pledged to allow MPs to vote on a number of options, including the withdrawal agreement she has negotiated with the EU, which MPs have already rejected three times.

    In either event, Mrs May said she would ask the EU for a further short extension to Brexit in the hope of getting an agreement passed by Parliament before 22 May, so that the UK does not have to take part in European elections.

    Bill 'passed in haste'

    Yvette Cooper's backbench bill to prevent a no-deal departure from the EU passed by 313 votes to 312 on Wednesday.

    Tory Brexiteers expressed frustration at the unusual process of a backbench bill clearing all stages in the Commons in a matter of hours, rather than months.

    On Thursday, Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay told MPs he would hope the Lords would "scrutinise this bill passed in haste with its constitutional flaws".

    He added that there was "no guarantee" that the UK will not take part in the European elections in May and to participate would be a "betrayal" and "inflict untold damage".

    https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-47815599

  3. #323
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    European Council President Donald Tusk is proposing to offer the UK a 12-month "flexible" extension to its Brexit date, according to a senior EU source.

    His plan would allow the UK to leave sooner if Parliament ratifies a deal, but it would need to be agreed by EU leaders at a summit next week.

    The UK's Conservatives and Labour Party are set to continue Brexit talks later.

    Attorney General Geoffrey Cox has told the BBC that if they fail, the delay is "likely to be a long one".

    The UK is due to leave the EU on 12 April and, as yet, no withdrawal deal has been approved by MPs.

    Downing Street said "technical" talks between Labour and the Conservatives on Thursday had been "productive" and would continue on Friday.

    Prime Minister Theresa May has said a further postponement to the Brexit date is needed if the UK is to avoid leaving the EU without a deal, a scenario both EU leaders and many British MPs believe would create problems for businesses and cause difficulties at ports.

    However, the PM wants to keep any delay as short as possible.

    To do that, she and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn would need to agree a proposal for MPs to vote on before 10 April, when EU leaders are expected to consider any extension request at an emergency summit.

    If they cannot, Mrs May has said a number of options would be put to MPs "to determine which course to pursue".

    Mr Cox told the BBC's Political Thinking podcast that particular scenario would involve accepting whatever postponement the EU offered, which was likely to be "longer than just a few weeks or months".

    Europe's leaders have been split over whether, and how, to grant any extension.

    However, BBC Europe editor Katya Adler has been told by a senior EU official that Mr Tusk "believes he's come up with an answer", after several hours of meetings in preparation for the summit.

    "He believes the arrangement would suit the EU and the UK and, as one EU official put it to me, it would avoid Brussels potentially being faced with UK requests for repeated short extensions every few weeks," she said.

    The EU has previously said that the UK must decide by 12 April whether it will stand candidates in May's European Parliamentary elections, or else the option of a long extension to Brexit would become impossible.

    The main item of business in the last frantic 24 hours has been the cross-party talks between the Conservatives and the Labour Party.

    From both sides, it sounds like they are serious and genuine, and negotiators got into the guts of both their positions and technical details on Thursday.

    Remember, behind the scenes there isn't as much difference between the two sides' versions of Brexit as the hue and cry of Parliament implies.

    But the political, not the policy, distance between the two is plainly enormous.

    Talks between Conservative ministers and Labour lasted 4.5 hours on Thursday.

    Mr Corbyn has written to his MPs saying discussions included customs arrangements, single market alignment, internal security, legal underpinning to any agreements and a "confirmatory" vote.

    Shadow Treasury minister Clive Lewis told the BBC the party would not be talking to the government if a "confirmatory referendum" was not an option.

    But 25 Labour MPs - including a number representing Leave-voting seats - have written to Mr Corbyn, saying another referendum should not be included in any compromise Brexit deal.

    Asked whether another referendum on any final deal was a credible option, Mr Cox said: "A good deal of persuasion might be needed to satisfy the government that a second referendum would be appropriate. But of course we will consider any suggestion that's made."

    'Accidental no-deal'
    If the talks fail, the government faces an additional obstacle in the form of a backbench bill which would force the PM to seek a new delay.

    Passed by MPs by one vote on Wednesday, the bill is being scrutinised by the House of Lords, who will next consider the draft legislation on Monday.

    Ministers have argued it could increase "the risk of an accidental no-deal" in the event the EU agreed to an extension but argued for a different date than one specified by MPs.

    That would mean Mrs May having to bring the issue back to the Commons on 11 April, when European leaders would have returned home, the prime minister's spokesman said.

    After a meeting with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar in Dublin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her country still hoped for an "orderly Brexit".

    "We will do everything in order to prevent... Britain crashing out of the European Union," she said.

    "But we have to do this together with Britain and with their position that they will present to us."

    https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-47821646


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  4. #324
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    Deadline requested till 30th June 2019!

  5. #325
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    Quote Originally Posted by Technics 1210 View Post
    Deadline requested till 30th June 2019!
    Theresa May has written to the EU to request a further delay to Brexit until 30 June.

    The UK is currently due to leave the EU on 12 April and, as yet, no withdrawal deal has been approved by MPs.

    Mrs May has proposed, if UK MPs agree a withdrawal deal in time, the UK should be able to leave before European Parliamentary elections on 23 May.

    But she said the UK would prepare to field candidates in those elections, in case they do not reach agreement.


    https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-47825841


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  6. #326
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    Brexit: UK asks EU for further extension until 30 June

    Theresa May has written to the European Union to request a further delay to Brexit until 30 June.

    The UK is currently due to leave the EU on 12 April and, as yet, no withdrawal deal has been approved by MPs.

    The prime minister has proposed that if UK MPs approve a deal in time, the UK should be able to leave before European Parliamentary elections on 23 May.

    But she said the UK would prepare to field candidates in those elections in case no agreement is reached.

    EU leaders must agree unanimously whether to grant an extension to the Article 50 process, under which the UK leaves the EU, after MPs repeatedly rejected the withdrawal agreement reached between the UK and the bloc.

    BBC Europe editor Katya Adler has been told by a senior EU source that European Council President Donald Tusk will propose a 12-month "flexible" extension to Brexit, with the option of cutting it short, if the UK Parliament ratifies a deal.

    But his proposal would have to be agreed unanimously by EU leaders next week. The prime minister wrote to Mr Tusk to request the extension ahead of Wednesday's meeting.


    What are the Brexit sticking points?

    She requested an extension to the end of June at the last summit, which took place shortly before 29 March - the date the UK was originally meant to have left the EU.

    But she was offered a short delay to 12 April - the date by which the UK must say whether it intends to take part in the European Parliamentary elections - or until 22 May if UK MPs had approved the withdrawal deal negotiated with the EU. They voted it down for a third time last week.

    You can almost hear the sound of combined eye-rolling across 27 European capitals .. as the PM requests a #Brexit extension-time (till 30th June) that Brussels has already repeatedly rejected /1

    In her letter, she says the "impasse cannot be allowed to continue", as it was "creating uncertainty and doing damage to faith in politics" in the UK.

    She said if cross-party talks with the Labour Party could not establish "a single unified approach" in the UK Parliament - MPs would be asked to vote on a series of options instead which the government "stands ready to abide by".

    She wrote that the UK proposed an extension to the process until 30 June and "accepts the European Council's view that if the United Kingdom were still a member state of the European Union on 23 May 2019, it would be under a legal obligation to hold the elections".

    To this end, she says the UK is already "undertaking the lawful and responsible preparations for this contingency".

    But it said if a withdrawal agreement could be ratified by Parliament before then "the government proposes that the period should be terminated early" so the UK can leave the EU before then, and cancel preparations for the European Parliamentary elections.

    Why 30 June?
    The 30 June date is significant.

    It's the day before the new European Parliament will hold its first session. So the logic is, that it would allow the UK a bit longer to seal a deal - but without the need for British MEPs to take their seats in a parliament that the UK electorate had voted to leave as long ago as 2016.

    But, this being Theresa May, it's a plan she has previously proposed - and which has already been rejected.

    It's likely the EU will reject it again and offer a longer extension, with the ability to leave earlier if Parliament agrees a deal.

    But by asking for a relatively short extension - even if she is unsuccessful - the prime minister will be hoping to escape the ire of some of her Brexit-supporting backbenchers who are champing at the bit to leave.

    And she will try to signal to Leave-supporting voters that her choice is to get out of the EU as soon as is practicable - and that a longer extension will be something that is forced upon her, rather than something which she embraces.

    Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told journalists: "We still hope to leave the EU in the next couple of months. That is our ambition."

    But he said the UK may have "little choice" but to accept a longer delay if Parliament could not agree a solution.

    "Our first choice is to leave quickly and clearly and deliver on the referendum result," he said.

    But Conservative Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg tweeted that, if the UK were to be "stuck in the EU" it should be "as difficult as possible".

    If a long extension leaves us stuck in the EU we should be as difficult as possible. We could veto any increase in the budget, obstruct the putative EU army and block Mr Macron’s integrationist schemes.

    End of Twitter post by @Jacob_Rees_Mogg
    Another Tory Eurosceptic, Sir Bernard Jenkin, said he would prefer to stay in the EU for another year than for Britain to accept a "humiliating defeat" of a withdrawal agreement.

    Talks between Labour and the Conservatives are continuing on Friday. Thursday's talks, according to a letter Jeremy Corbyn wrote to Labour MPs, covered issues including potential customs arrangements, single market alignment, internal security and a "confirmatory" vote on any deal agreed.

    "Technical" discussions between the parties' negotiating teams on Thursday were described as "detailed and productive" by the government.

    Labour deputy leader Tom Watson told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that negotiations were "making progress" and both sides were hoping for "a creative solution" - which could include another referendum.

    https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-47825841



  7. #327
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    British passports are being issued without the words "European Union" on the cover, despite the delay to Brexit.

    The new burgundy passports were introduced from 30 March, the day after the UK was supposed to leave the EU, but some people may still receive the old version until stocks run out.

    One recipient said she was "truly appalled" at the change.

    Dark blue passports resembling the pre-EU British design are due to be issued from the end of the year.

    Susan Hindle Barone, who received her new passport on Friday, told the Press Association she thought the design should not change for as long as the UK remains an EU member.

    She said: "I was just surprised - we're still members of the EU. I was surprised they've made the change when we haven't left, and it's a tangible mark of something which I believe to be completely futile.

    "What do we gain by leaving? There's certainly a whole lot we lose."

    A change in the design of the UK passport has proved a rallying point for Brexit supporters, with former UKIP leader Nigel Farage describing the 2017 decision to bring back the dark blue design as "Brexmas".

    The decision to remove the "European Union" label was made in the expectation that the UK would be leaving the EU at the end of last month, as scheduled.

    A Home Office spokeswoman said that "in order to use leftover stock and achieve best value to the taxpayer", passports that include the words "European Union" will continue to be issued for "a short period".

    She said: "There will be no difference for British citizens whether they are using a passport that includes the words European Union, or a passport that does not. Both designs will be equally valid for travel."

    https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-47833702


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  8. #328
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    Chancellor Philip Hammond has said he is "optimistic" Brexit discussions between the government and Labour can reach "some form of agreement".

    Mr Hammond said there were "no red lines" in the meetings.

    But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he was "waiting to see the red lines move" and had not "noticed any great change in the government's position".

    Three days of talks ended on Friday without agreement and Labour said no more talks were planned this weekend.

    Downing Street responded by saying it was prepared to pursue alterations to the deal and ready to hold further discussions with Labour over the weekend.

    The talks have been taking place to try to find a proposal to put to MPs which could break the Brexit deadlock in the Commons before an emergency EU summit on Wednesday.

    Speaking ahead of an EU finance ministers' meeting in Bucharest, Mr Hammond told reporters: "We are expecting to exchange some more text with the Labour Party today, so this is an ongoing process."

    Mr Hammond said: "We should complete the process in Parliament... Some people in the Labour Party are making other suggestions to us. Of course, we have to be prepared to discuss them.

    "Our approach to these discussions with Labour is we have no red lines. We will go into these talks with an open mind and discuss everything with them in a constructive fashion."

    Speaking while campaigning for next month's local elections in Plymouth, Mr Corbyn suggested votes in Parliament were now the most likely way of providing a breakthrough on Brexit, saying his key priority was "to avoid crashing out of the EU with no deal".

    Mr Corbyn told the BBC: "We have a party position on the future relationship with Europe... and we will responsibly discharge those duties, but we are determined to make sure there is no crashing out."

    Talks in 'good faith'
    The prime minister has been unable to get Parliamentary backing for the withdrawal agreement she secured with the EU in November last year, which sets out the terms of the UK's departure.

    Labour has said it wants fundamental changes to a document drawn up at the same time, known as the political declaration. It sets out ambitions for the future relationship between the UK and EU after Brexit - including on trade, regulations, security and fishing rights - but does not legally commit either party.

    Shadow home secretary Ms Abbott told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that Labour had engaged in the talks "in good faith" and shadow Brexit minister Sir Keir Starmer had written to the government to say he wants them to continue.

    She said there was concern that the government has made "no movement" on alter the political declaration and "that is key".

    A Downing Street spokesman said after Friday's talks that "serious proposals" were made and it was "prepared to pursue changes to the political declaration in order to deliver a deal that is acceptable to both sides".

    BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg says there was a sense that the government has "only offered clarifications on what might be possible from the existing documents, rather than adjusting any of their actual proposals".

    She added that both sides agreed the talks are not yet over, but there were no firm commitments for when further discussions might take place.

    'Existential threat'
    The UK is due to leave the EU on 12 April and, as yet, no withdrawal deal has been approved by the House of Commons.

    Prime Minister Theresa May has written to European Council President Donald Tusk to request an extension to the Brexit process until 30 June but says if MPs agree a deal, the UK should be able to leave before European parliamentary elections are held on 23 May.

    She says the UK would prepare to field candidates in May's European Parliament elections if MPs failed to back a deal.

    But education minister Nadhim Zahawi told the Today programme it would be "a suicide note of the Conservative Party if we had to fight the European elections".

    He added the elections would pose an "existential threat" to both the Conservatives and Labour if they "haven't been able to deliver Brexit".

    Mr Zahawi suggested that if an agreement could not be found from the talks with Labour, MPs should be asked to find a compromise on a deal through a preferential voting system.

    Any extension to the UK's departure would have to be unanimously approved by EU leaders.

    A senior EU source told BBC Europe editor Katya Adler that Donald Tusk would propose a 12-month "flexible" extension, with the option of the UK leaving sooner once Parliament had ratified a deal.

    French Europe minister Amelie de Montchalin said such a delay would require the UK to put forward a proposal with "clear and credible political backing".

    "In the absence of such a plan, we would have to acknowledge that the UK chose to leave the EU in a disorderly manner," she added.

    Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar told RTE it was unlikely that a UK request for a delay would be vetoed by any EU member nations as it could cause economic hardship in the bloc and "they wouldn't be forgiven for it".

    But he said there was growing frustration from some nations which see Brexit as distracting from other things.

    https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-47837142


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  9. #329
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    Prime Minister Theresa May has insisted she had to reach out to Labour in a bid to deliver Brexit or risk letting it "slip through our fingers".

    In a statement on Saturday night, Mrs May said there was a "stark choice" of either leaving the European Union with a deal or not leaving at all.

    Some Conservatives have criticised her for seeking Labour's help after MPs rejected her Brexit plan three times.

    Three days of talks between the parties stalled without agreement on Friday.

    Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he was "waiting to see the red lines move" and had not "noticed any great change in the government's position".

    He is coming under pressure from his MPs to demand a referendum on any deal he reaches with the government, with 80 signing a letter saying a public vote should be the "bottom line" in the negotiations.

    In her statement, Mrs May said that after doing "everything in my power" to persuade her party - and its backers in Northern Ireland's DUP - to approve the deal she agreed with the EU last year, she "had to take a new approach".

    "We have no choice but to reach out across the House of Commons," the PM said, insisting the two main parties agreed on the need to protect jobs and end free movement.

    "The referendum was not fought along party lines and people I speak to on the doorstep tell me they expect their politicians to work together when the national interest demands it."

    Getting a majority of MPs to back a Brexit deal was the only way for the UK to leave the EU, Mrs May said.

    "The longer this takes, the greater the risk of the UK never leaving at all."

    The UK is due to leave the EU on 12 April and, as yet, no withdrawal deal has been approved by the House of Commons.

    Labour says it has had no indication the government will agree to its demand for changes to the political declaration - the section of Mrs May's Brexit deal which outlines the basis for future UK-EU relations.

    The document declares mutual ambitions in areas such as trade, regulations, security and fishing rights - but does not legally commit either party.

    Downing Street has indicated it is "prepared to pursue changes" in order to secure a deal, and Chancellor Philip Hammond said on Saturday he was "optimistic" the talks could reach "some form of agreement".

    'Open revolt'
    However, Tory Brexiteers have reacted angrily to the prospect of Mrs May accepting Labour's demands, particularly for a customs union with the EU which would allow tariff-free trade with the bloc but prevent the UK from striking its own trade deals.

    Leaving the EU's customs union was a Conservative manifesto commitment, and former party whip Michael Fabricant predicted "open revolt" among Tories and Leave voters if MPs agreed to it.

    However, Downing Street has described the prospect as "speculation".

    The Sunday Telegraph reported some activists were refusing to campaign for the party, while donations had "dried up".

    And former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab writes in the Mail on Sunday that Mrs May's approach "threatens to damage the Conservatives for years".

    "There is now a danger that Brexit could be lost and that the government could fall - handing the keys to Downing Street to Corbyn," he says.

    BBC political correspondent Jonathan Blake said the government would not be drawn on what it was willing to offer Labour.

    "No 10 described as speculation reports that it would... enshrine in a law a promise to give Parliament a say on the terms of further negotiations with the EU, as a way of stopping a new Tory leader shifting to a harder Brexit."

    In a letter to Mr Corbyn, some Labour MPs have pointed out that - because the political declaration is not legally binding, and with Mrs May having promised to stand down - a future Tory PM could simply "rip up" any of her commitments.

    Four shadow ministers were among 80 signatories of the Love Socialism Hate Brexit campaign letter pressing for a further public vote.

    'No legitimacy'
    Any compromise deal agreed by Parliament will have "no legitimacy if it is not confirmed by the public", it argues.

    However, Labour is split on the subject, with a letter signed by 25 Labour MPs on Thursday arguing the opposite.

    They warned it would "divide the country further and add uncertainty for business" and could be "exploited by the far-right, damage the trust of many core Labour voters and reduce our chances of winning a general election".

    The Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom argues in the Sunday Telegraph that a further referendum would be "the ultimate betrayal".

    "It would require lengthy delay, it would reignite the divisive debate, and since Parliament has so far failed to follow the first result, there is no reason to believe it would honour a second referendum either," she writes.

    https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-47842572


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  10. #330
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    Macron ponders his de Gaulle moment with Brexit

    “I think this man has gone crazy — absolutely crazy,” the British prime minister said of the French president. “He is inventing any means whatever to knock us out and the simple thing is he wants to be the cock on a small dunghill instead of having two cocks on a larger one.”

    The year was 1963 and Harold Macmillan was venting his frustrations on a call to the White House. Within weeks Gen Charles de Gaulle of France had vetoed Britain’s bid to join the European Economic Community — the first of the two occasions on which he said “Non” to the British — blindsiding his five fellow leaders in the club.

    Half a century later, Britain is seeking to leave the EU at a time of its choosing, and once again finds its European destiny beholden to the calculations of a charismatic French leader — a president who sees de Gaulle as his role model.

    De Gaulle said No to the UK’s entry. Will French President Emmanuel Macron have a de Gaulle moment, say No to the UK leaving when it wants, and bundle the British out of the door?

    Mr Macron has certainly taken the hardest line in public against a long delay to a UK exit date, first scheduled for March 29, postponed to April 12, and which UK prime minister Theresa May now wants to delay until June 30. Even in private he has told other EU leaders that it may be best to get Brexit over with rather than let Westminster hold the other 27 member states hostage.

    But senior officials and diplomats in Paris, Brussels and other European capitals doubt that Mr Macron will stand alone against more emollient EU leaders in countries such as Germany, Poland and Ireland and be the one to finally pull the plug on the British.

    Mr Macron’s overtly hard line is seen partly as a traditional piece of Gaullist grandstanding in the centuries-old tradition of Anglo-French rivalry. “It is part of the job description for every French president to humiliate the Brits,” says one senior EU official.

    Nor are the French afraid to take the lead in such negotiations. “We are a little bit British in this — we are not afraid to be alone,” says one senior French official.

    Yet the French stand is also seen as good diplomacy and good politics, because Mr Macron wants to put pressure on the British so that Mrs May does not come yet again to Brussels without a plausible plan to justify an extension — whether it be a Brexit plan that wins the support of the House of Commons, or an agreement for a second referendum.

    “Our nightmare is if she comes with nothing in her pocket,” says the French official.

    An outright rejection of the UK request would also badly damage EU unity, which has been carefully nurtured through the Brexit process.

    Mr Macron would need to publicly overrule the Irish taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who wants more time to avoid the inevitable economic and political disruption from a no-deal exit, including threats to peace in Northern Ireland. Mr Macron met Mr Varadkar at the Elysée palace last week and said he would “never abandon Ireland or the Irish people, no matter what”.

    With his “Jupiterian” view of the French presidency and his championing of the EU, Mr Macron has cast himself as a worthy successor to the man who so appalled Macmillan — “a sort of modern-day de Gaulle, who will rescue Europe from its demons, and conjure hope from crisis”, in the words of his biographer Sophie Pedder.

    Mr Macron likes to quote de Gaulle, and as soon as he took office in 2017 he chose to place a copy of the general’s memoirs in the background for his official photographic portrait.

    “It is a very political. He will be tempted,” says one person who has spoken to Mr Macron about the Brexit extension request. “We cannot exclude that the political context leads him to veto. If the UK cannot provide justification for a long extension, then it is a political question for the French president.”

    In the end, however, Mr Macron is likely do what he has done before and yield to the arguments of Mrs May, Angela Merkel and other EU leaders for a little more time. “The French, like others in Europe, don’t want to be the ones to be blamed if there’s a crash exit,” says Pierre Vimont, senior fellow at Carnegie Europe.

    Most of the EU would welcome a managed, agreed and less-damaging Brexit — or even a change of mind by the British people. After nearly three years of Brexit negotiations and political turmoil in the UK, the first outcome would be a relief and an acceptable result; the second could be painted as a political triumph for the pro-European Mr Macron, who never wanted the UK to leave in the first place.

    “For Macron either the Brits crash out and he can point to the dire consequences during the [European] elections, or they can’t leave, and he can say even a country like the UK couldn’t manage to do it,” says one senior EU official. “He can win either way. He doesn’t need to be the culprit.”

    https://www.ft.com/content/23d71a04-...e-7aedca0a081a
    Last edited by giri26; 8th April 2019 at 09:19.

  11. #331
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    Brexit: Theresa May to meet Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron

    Theresa May is to hold last-minute Brexit talks with the leaders of Germany and France later, four days before the UK is due to leave the EU.

    Mrs May is meeting Angela Merkel in Berlin, followed by Emmanuel Macron in Paris, to urge them to back her request to delay Brexit again until 30 June.

    The prime minister will be at an emergency summit on Wednesday when all 28 EU states will vote on an extension.

    Cross-party talks aimed at breaking the impasse are also set to continue.

    The UK is currently due to leave the EU at 23:00 BST on Friday.

    So far, MPs have rejected the withdrawal agreement Theresa May reached with other European leaders last year.

    On Monday evening, Parliament passed a bill brought by Labour MP Yvette Cooper, which aims to force the prime minister to request a Brexit extension - rather than leave the EU without a deal on Friday, which is the default position.

    The bill received its Royal Assent from the Queen on Monday night, and Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom told MPs that this meant there will be a government motion on Tuesday asking the House to approve the PM's request to the EU to delay Brexit until 30 June.

    But the final decision on an extension lies with the EU - and the leaders of all the 27 other EU countries have to agree to a decide whether to grant or reject an extension.

    On Monday, Mrs May spoke by phone with the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who said it was "crucial" for the EU's members to know "when and on what basis" the UK will ratify the withdrawal deal.

    Elsewhere, No 10 said ministers and their shadow counterparts will continue cross-party talks later, as they try to break the Brexit deadlock.

    A Downing Street spokesman said the government was "committed to finding a way through" which requires both sides "to work at a pace".

    Talks between Labour and the government began last week, with Mrs May saying only a cross-party pact would see MPs agree a deal in Parliament.

    On Monday, sources indicated the PM had not accepted Labour's customs union demand, but there was a move towards changing the non-binding political declaration.

    And the government reportedly suggested offering Labour a guarantee that any deal they reached could not be undone, creating a "lock".

    This aims to ease Labour concerns that any promises could be unpicked by the next Conservative leader.

    But BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said there was "deep concern" on the Labour side that any legal promise could be undone by further legislation.

    Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said there had been no change in the government's "red lines".

    However, the prime minister has been warned by members of the 1922 committee of Conservative backbenchers that agreeing a customs union with the EU in Brexit talks would be "unacceptable".

    The MPs met Mrs May in Downing Street on Monday and it is understood they were more open to the idea of a customs arrangement, which would allow the UK to do its own trade deals.

    If no compromise can be reached between the parties, Mrs May has committed to putting a series of Brexit options to the Commons and being bound by the result.

    Mr Corbyn said: "Talks have to mean a movement and so far there's been no change in those red lines."

    The Labour leader said there were "many concerns" his party had over the political declaration - a plan for the future relationship with the EU - which it planned to put to the government in their discussions.

    Meanwhile, the government has taken the necessary steps which are required by law to allow the UK can take part in European Parliament elections on 23 May.

    The Cabinet Office said it was taking responsible steps, but the move did not make participation in the elections inevitable.

    Key dates in the week ahead

    Tuesday: Theresa May travels to Berlin for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and then Paris for discussions with French President Emmanuel Macron. Cross-party talks continue

    Wednesday: Emergency summit of EU leaders to consider UK request for further extension until 30 June, with the option of an earlier Brexit day if a deal can be agreed

    https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-47861605

  12. #332
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    Brexit: Theresa May meets Angela Merkel for delay request

    Theresa May is holding last-minute Brexit talks with the leaders of Germany and France, with the UK due to leave the EU in three days' time.

    Mrs May met Angela Merkel in Berlin, and will meet Emmanuel Macron in Paris, as she urges both to back her request to delay Brexit again until 30 June.

    After the talks, Ms Merkel said a delay that runs to the end of the year or the start of 2020 was a possibility.

    There is a summit on Wednesday when all EU states will vote on an extension.

    Cross-party talks in Westminster aimed at breaking the impasse are also continuing.

    The negotiating teams include Chancellor Philip Hammond, Environment Secretary Michael Gove and shadow chancellor John McDonnell, with the Labour frontbencher saying they hoped to "broaden the talks".

    But in a leaked letter seen by the Telegraph, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox has warned that agreeing with Labour over its demand for a customs union is the "worst of both worlds" and will leave Britain unable to set its own trade policy.

    The UK is currently due to leave the EU at 23:00 BST on Friday.

    Downing Street said Theresa May and Ms Merkel discussed the UK's request for an extension of Article 50 - the process by which the UK leaves the EU - to 30 June, with the option to bring this forward if a deal is ratified earlier.

    The prime minister and Chancellor Merkel agreed "on the importance of ensuring Britain's orderly withdrawal", a statement said.

    Ms Merkel said EU leaders would discuss a "flextension" - a one-year flexible extension - at Wednesday's summit.

    Following a meeting of the EU's General Affairs Council in Luxembourg, diplomats said "slightly more than a handful" of member states spoke in favour of a delay to 30 June and a majority were in favour of a longer extension.

    BBC Brussels reporter Adam Fleming said no maximum end extension date was agreed, although December 2019 and March 2020 were mentioned.

    Conditions of a delay were discussed including UK participation in May's European Parliament elections, no re-opening of the withdrawal agreement and how to guarantee the UK's pledge of "sincere co-operation" in ongoing EU business.

    So far, MPs have rejected the withdrawal agreement Mrs May reached with other European leaders last year.

    One of most contentious parts of the plan is the Irish backstop - an insurance policy that aims to prevent a hard border returning to the island of Ireland.

    The EU has continually said it will not re-open the withdrawal agreement for negotiations, but Leader of the Commons Andrea Leadsom renewed her plea for them to look again.

    On Monday evening, Parliament passed a bill brought by Labour MP Yvette Cooper, which aims to force the prime minister to request a Brexit extension - rather than leave the EU without a deal on Friday, which is the default position.

    The government opposed the bill, saying it was unnecessary as Mrs May was already seeking an extension. But the backbenchers behind it wanted to ensure it became law to prevent any changes in her strategy.

    As a result, MPs are debating a government motion asking MPs to approve the PM's request to the EU to delay Brexit.

    The final decision on an extension lies with the EU - and the leaders of all the 27 other EU countries have to decide whether to grant or reject an extension.

    If the UK is still a member of the EU on 23 May, it will have to take part in European Parliamentary elections.

    Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said the UK would "certainly not" leave without a deal on Friday.

    But Ireland's Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney said a no-deal Brexit was still possible - even though it would represent "an extraordinary failure of politics".

    EU leaders are curious to hear the prime minister's Plan B. They hope there is one, although they're not convinced.

    They want to know, if they say yes to another Brexit extension, what it will be used for.

    And they suspect Theresa May wants them to do her dirty work for her.

    EU diplomatic sources I have spoken to suggest the prime minister may have officially asked the EU for a short new extension (until 30 June) as that was politically easier for her back home, whereas she believed and hoped (the theory goes) that EU leaders will insist instead on a flexible long extension that she actually needs.

    The bottom line is: EU leaders are extremely unlikely to refuse to further extend the Brexit process.

    Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said that the ongoing talks "have to mean a movement" in the government's policy, but said so far there had been "no change".

    Mr Hammond told the Commons that the deal the PM had negotiated "gave us many of the benefits of being in a customs union", yet it had been rejected by MPs several times.

    "We have to pursue other alternatives," he added.

    EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said the EU has "hope and expectation" from the cross-party talks and would be willing to "improve" the political declaration "within hours".

    If no cross-party compromise can be reached, Mrs May has committed to putting a series of Brexit options to the Commons and being bound by the result.

    This could include the option of holding a public vote on any deal agreed by Parliament.

    Tory MP and government aide to the chancellor, Huw Merriman, said he backed a "People's Vote" to secure the public's support for the prime minister's deal.

    Speaking at a rally for the campaign, he said it was "seriously wrong" that he had been threatened with the sack, and said he wanted another vote in order to "get this country through the mess we are currently in".

    Key dates in the week ahead

    Tuesday: Theresa May travels to Berlin for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and then Paris for discussions with French President Emmanuel Macron. Cross-party talks continue. Commons to vote on motion regarding extension
    Wednesday: Emergency summit of EU leaders to consider UK request for further extension until 30 June, with the option of an earlier Brexit day if a deal can be agreed
    Friday: Brexit day, if UK is not granted a further delay


    https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-47861605
    Last edited by Zeeraq; 9th April 2019 at 21:18.

  13. #333
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    Brexit: Donald Tusk suggests 'flexible' delay of up to a year

    European Council president Donald Tusk says the EU should consider offering the UK a "flexible" delay to Brexit of up to a year, with the option of leaving earlier if a deal is ratified.

    He said there was "little reason to believe" a Brexit deal would be approved by the extension deadline UK PM Theresa May has requested - 30 June.

    Writing to EU leaders, he said any delay should have conditions attached.

    It is up to EU members to vote on the proposals at a summit on Wednesday.

    A draft EU document circulated to diplomats ahead of the emergency summit also proposes an extension but leaves the date of the proposed new deadline blank.

    The BBC's Brussels correspondent Adam Fleming said the document referred to an extension lasting "only as long as is necessary and, in any event, no longer than XX.XX.XXXX and ending earlier if the withdrawal agreement is ratified".

    The UK is currently due to leave the EU at 23:00 BST on Friday.

    So far, UK MPs have rejected the withdrawal agreement Mrs May reached with other European leaders last year, so she is now asking for the leaving date to be extended.

    Meanwhile, Mrs May has been meeting French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin for talks ahead of the summit.

    Afterwards, Ms Merkel said a delay that ran until the end of this year or the start of 2020 was a possibility.

    Mr Tusk said granting the 30 June extension that Mrs May is seeking "would increase the risk of a rolling series of short extensions and emergency summits, creating new cliff-edge dates".

    And if the European Council did not agree on an extension at all, "there would be a risk of an accidental no-deal Brexit", he said.

    "One possibility would be a flexible extension, which would last only as long as necessary and no longer than one year, as beyond that date we will need to decide unanimously on some key European projects."

    Mr Tusk said the EU would need to agree on a number of conditions to be attached to any proposed extension, including that there would be no re-opening of negotiations on the withdrawal agreement.

    He said the UK should be treated "with the highest respect" and "neither side should be allowed to feel humiliated".

    BBC Europe editor Katya Adler said the EU's draft conclusions "should be taken with a big pinch of salt" as EU leaders could "rip up the conclusions and start again" on Wednesday.

    She said the fact that the length of delay had been left blank in the conclusions shows EU leaders were still divided on the issue.

    Downing Street said Mrs May had discussed the UK's request for an extension of Article 50 - the process by which the UK leaves the EU - until 30 June, with the option to make it shorter if a deal is ratified earlier, with both Ms Merkel and Mr Macron.

    The prime minister and Chancellor Merkel agreed on the importance of ensuring Britain's orderly withdrawal, a statement said.

    Mrs May and Mr Macron also discussed next month's European Parliamentary elections, with the prime minister saying the government was "working very hard" to avoid the need for the UK to take part as it is supposed to if it is still a member of the EU on 23 May.

    Following a meeting of the EU's General Affairs Council in Luxembourg, diplomats said "slightly more than a handful" of member states spoke in favour of delaying Article 50 until 30 June but the majority were in favour of a longer extension.

    EU leaders are curious to hear the prime minister's Plan B. They hope there is one, although they're not convinced.

    They want to know, if they say, "Yes," to another Brexit extension, what it will be used for.

    And they suspect Theresa May wants them to do her dirty work for her.

    EU diplomatic sources I have spoken to suggest the prime minister may have officially asked the EU for a short new extension (until 30 June) as that was politically easier for her back home, whereas she believed and hoped (the theory goes) that EU leaders will insist instead on a flexible long extension that she actually needs.

    The bottom line is: EU leaders are extremely unlikely to refuse to further extend the Brexit process.

    Meanwhile, the latest round of talks between Labour and the Conservatives aimed at breaking the impasse in Parliament have finished for the day with both sides expressing hope there would be progress.

    They are hoping to reach compromise changes to the Brexit deal agreed by Mrs May that could be accepted by the Commons, with Labour pushing for the inclusion of a customs union.

    That would allow tariff-free trade in goods with the EU but limit the UK from striking its own deals. Leaving the arrangement was a Conservative manifesto commitment.

    Environment Secretary Michael Gove said the talks had been "open and constructive" but the sides differed on a "number of areas".

    Labour's shadow business secretary Rebecca Long Bailey said they were "hopeful progress will be made".

    Further talks will be held on Thursday.

    On Tuesday afternoon, MPs also approved a government motion for Mrs May to ask the EU to delay Brexit until June 30, required after a bill from Labour's Yvette Cooper became law.

    If Labour and the government cannot agree on a way forward, Mrs May has promised to put a series of Brexit options to the Commons to vote on - with the government to be bound by the result.

    These options could include holding another referendum on any Brexit deal agreed by Parliament.

    https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-47874367

  14. #334
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    Brexit: Theresa May to make plea for 30 June delay at EU summit

    The PM wants to postpone Brexit until 30 June - but the EU is expected to want a longer delay

    EU leaders are to meet for an emergency summit in Brussels to decide whether to offer the UK another delay to Brexit.

    Prime Minister Theresa May wants to postpone the date the UK leaves the EU beyond this Friday, until 30 June.

    But the EU is expected to offer a longer delay, after European Council President Donald Tusk urged the other 27 leaders to back a flexible extension of up to a year - with conditions.

    Mr Tusk added that "neither side should be allowed to feel humiliated".

    Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay said neither he nor the PM wanted to see a longer extension, but said it was a possibility because MPs had not backed Mrs May's deal.

    He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "The reason we have to go back [to the EU] today is not because of the prime minister, but because Parliament once again refused to vote for the withdrawal agreement. It is a consequence of Parliament. Not government, Parliament."

    The UK is currently due to leave the EU at 23:00 BST on Friday, 12 April.

    So far, UK MPs have rejected the withdrawal agreement Mrs May reached with other European leaders last year, so she is now asking for the leaving date to be extended.

    Every EU member state needs to agree before a delay can be granted.

    If no extension is granted, the default position would be for the UK to leave on Friday without a deal.

    Mrs May will head to Belgium this afternoon, after her weekly clash with opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn at Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons.

    That head-to-head follows five days of talks between the government and Labour officials aimed at breaking the Brexit impasse.

    At the summit - which begins at about 18:00 local time (17:00 BST) on Wednesday evening - Mrs May will formally present her case for a short delay until 30 June, with the option for the UK to leave earlier if her Brexit deal is ratified.

    The other EU leaders will then have dinner without her and discuss how to respond.

    BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said the PM had to convince EU leaders about the credibility of talks with Labour and prove they were "a genuine political plan that has a chance of getting the UK out of this maze".

    She said the assumption a long delay would be agreed was not guaranteed, adding: "Don't rule out a shorter extension".

    Kuenssberg: Brexit delay proves lesser evil for May

    France's Emmanuel Macron and the EU's Donald Tusk gesture for Mrs May to join a group photo at the EU summit last month
    In a formal letter to the leaders on the eve of the summit, Mr Tusk proposed a longer, flexible extension - although "no longer than one year" - to avoid creating more cliff-edge extensions or emergency summits in the future.

    Any delay should have conditions attached, he said - including that there would be no reopening of the withdrawal agreement talks. And the UK would have the option to leave earlier if a Brexit deal was ratified.

    Referring to Mrs May's proposal for an extension until the end of June, he added there was "little reason to believe" that Mrs May's deal could be ratified by then.

    And if the European Council did not agree on an extension at all, "there would be a risk of an accidental no-deal Brexit", he said.

    Mr Tusk also warned that "neither side should be allowed to feel humiliated at any stage in this difficult process".

    What happens now? Brexit explained in flowcharts

    EU officials have prepared a draft document for the leaders to discuss at the summit - with the end date of the delay left blank for them to fill in once deliberations have ended.

    BBC Europe editor Katya Adler said the fact the length of delay had been left blank in the conclusions showed EU leaders were still divided on the issue.

    The draft document from EU officials leaves the date of an extension blank

    BBC Europe correspondent Kevin Connolly said "much has been spelled out in advance", including the condition that if the UK remains a member of the EU at the end of May it will have to hold elections to the European Parliament or be forced to leave immediately.

    He added that, during the delay, the UK would be expected to commit to not disrupting EU business, such as the preparation of the next budget, and its influence "would be sharply reduced and its voice muted".

    On Tuesday, Mrs May travelled to Berlin for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and then to Paris to meet French President Emmanuel Macron, in a bid to seek their support for her shorter delay.


    Media captionThere was no-one to greet the PM as she arrived to meet the German chancellor for Brexit talks in Berlin
    Afterwards, Ms Merkel said a delay that ran until the end of this year or the start of 2020 was a possibility.

    In a statement, Downing Street said the prime minister and Chancellor Merkel agreed on the importance of ensuring Britain's orderly withdrawal.

    Mrs May told Mr Macron the government was working hard to avoid the need to hold EU Parliamentary elections
    Meanwhile, talks between Labour and the Conservatives are scheduled to resume after Mrs May returns from the summit.

    The Brexit Secretary, Stephen Barclay, said holding talks with the opposition was "contrary to the normal tradition", but they were taking place "in good faith".

    Labour MP Jack Dromey, who has campaigned to rule out no-deal in Parliament, criticised Mrs May for taking two years to reach out to his party, but said there was a "genuine desire" on both sides to reach an agreement.

    "Those negotiations are tough, they will take time and there is a mountain to climb," he added.

    "But there is a duty that falls upon all members of Parliament to reach a better deal for Britain to protect the British national interest."

    However, Tory Brexiteer Anne Marie Morris has called for the UK to leave the EU on Friday without a deal.

    She told BBC News that exiting on World Trade Organisation rules - the default if the UK leaves without an agreement - was "actually a very good deal" for the country.

    https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics...al.link1_.auin



  15. #335
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    EU gives Britain a Brexit delay and warns: 'Do not waste this time'

    London (CNN)The European Union has forced Britain to accept a six-month delay to the intractable Brexit process, with an option to leave earlier if the UK Parliament can agree a deal, at a tense summit of divided European leaders in Brussels.

    After a working dinner that dragged long into the evening, leaders of the 27 remaining nations agreed another delay to Britain's scheduled withdrawal from the EU, this time until October 31. European leaders were unconvinced by Prime Minister Theresa May's promise that the UK would get its house in order to leave by the end of June.

    But the deal was only reached after six hours of horse trading that saw European leaders divided over how to deal with Britain's ongoing political crisis. President of the European Council Donald Tusk, who had originally proposed an extension of up to a year, confirmed the UK had accepted the deal.

    "This extension is as flexible as I expected and a little bit shorter than I expected, but it is still enough to find the best possible solution," he told reporters in Brussels. And he had a stark warning for British politicians who have been deadlocked for months: "Please do not waste this time."

    May had sought a shorter delay to June 30 in order to avoid the UK crashing out without a deal later this week. The UK was meant to leave the EU on March 29, this was later extended to April 12.

    The new extension, which falls on Halloween, means that Britain will more than likely have to hold elections for the European Parliament on May 23, nearly three years after the British people voted to leave the EU. May has always said she never wanted the UK to take part in those elections.

    The fright night deadline, a day before the new European Commission is due to take office, was the product of grueling debate.

    French President Emmanuel Macron, whose patience has worn thin and wants to get on with his own project of reforming the EU, had advocated for a shorter Brexit extension, while the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, argued the delay should be extended.

    It is understood that Macron originally didn't see any reason to grant Britain a delay beyond the end of June, but was persuaded to accept the October deadline.

    Macron did manage to force the other leaders to agree to a review process at the end of June, when Britain will be assessed on assurances that it will remain a constructive partner in EU business, even if it is on the way out of the bloc.

    Speaking in the early hours of Friday, after the summit ended, Tusk hinted at the divisions, saying that despite their differing positions it was still "easier to find unity here than in the House of Commons."

    "Until the end of this period, the UK will also have the possibility to revoke Article 50 and cancel Brexit altogether," Tusk said, noting that the delay allowed the UK to "reconsider"' its Brexit strategy.

    European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said there would "probably" be European elections held in the UK, which "may seem a bit odd, but rules are rules."

    If the UK does not take part in the European Parliament elections in late May it would be required to leave on June 1 without a deal, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said on Twitter.

    The European leaders will reconvene in June to take stock.

    London deadlock

    While the European Union's decision to grant a so-called "flextension" allows the UK to leave as soon as it's ready, the optics aren't great for the Theresa May.

    The prime minister suggested in a news conference following the summit that she could still manage to get her Withdrawal Agreement passed through Parliament in time to avoid the UK taking part in the European elections.

    If the UK can agree a deal by May 22, the country will not have to hold European elections.

    "I know that there is huge frustration from many people that I had to request this extension," May said, repeating that the UK must leave in a "smooth and orderly way."

    The longer delay reflects doubts among EU leaders that May can succeed in swiftly winning cross-party support for her withdrawal agreement, which members of parliament have rejected three times.

    It will also infuriate hardliners within her own Conservative Party, who view any further delay as a path to a softer Brexit, or a signal that leaving the EU may never materialize at all.

    Hardline Brexiteers have indicated that, should the UK remain stuck in the union, then it will "become a Trojan horse within the EU," using British members of the European Parliament to create difficulties with key issues like the budget. That is a risk that the European leaders seem to have provided for.

    Draft conclusions from the meeting, seen by CNN, instructed Britain not to interfere with the processes of the EU, with assurances aimed at satisfying Macron.

    Juncker rebuked rumors that Britain would be a difficult partner should it find itself in the European Parliament, saying: "That's nothing new." He added that Britain's ability to block EU decisions was very limited.

    The extra breathing space granted by the EU also comes with the express instruction that the Brexit deadlock in London needs to be broken.

    It seems unlikely, given that cross party talks between the UK's Labour and Conservative parties have led nowhere. Sticking points seem to be the UK remaining in a customs union after Brexit, which Labour backs, but it's still divided on whether to ask British voters to ratify any deal in a second referendum.

    The Irish backstop, a provision to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland, also has to be resolved.

    May said that further talks will take place with the opposition in the coming days.

    "I do not pretend that the next few weeks will be easy or that there is a simple way to break the deadlock," she added.

    But it remains to be seen whether May will last long enough to see her deal through in any shape or form.

    There were already rumblings on Thursday night that the prolonged extension could spell an end to her leadership, triggering new elections.

    https://edition.cnn.com/2019/04/10/u...ntl/index.html

  16. #336
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    Brexit: UK and EU agree Brexit delay to 31 October

    The UK and the EU have agreed a "flexible extension" of Brexit until 31 October.

    Speaking after five hours of talks at an EU summit in Brussels, European Council president Donald Tusk said his "message to British friends" was "please do not waste this time".

    Theresa May said the UK would still aim to leave the EU as soon as possible.

    Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the UK must now hold European elections in May, or leave on 1 June without a deal.

    Prime Minister Mrs May had earlier told leaders she wanted to move the UK's exit date from this Friday to 30 June, with the option of leaving earlier if her withdrawal agreement was ratified by Parliament.

    Mr Tusk emerged from the talks - and a subsequent meeting with Mrs May - to address reporters at a news conference at 02:15 local time (01:15 BST).

    He said: "The course of action will be entirely in the UK's hands: they can still ratify the withdrawal agreement, in which case the extension can be terminated."

    Mr Tusk said the UK could also rethink its strategy or choose to "cancel Brexit altogether".

    He added: "Let me finish with a message to our British friends: This extension is as flexible as I expected, and a little bit shorter than I expected, but it's still enough to find the best possible solution.

    "Please do not waste this time."

    What was agreed?
    A Brexit extension "only as long as necessary" and "no longer than 31 October" to allow for the ratification of the withdrawal agreement
    The UK "must hold the elections to the European Parliament" and if it fails to do this, the UK will leave on 1 June
    The European Council reiterates there can be no reopening of the withdrawal agreement negotiations

    European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: "There will probably be a European election in the UK - that might seem a bit odd, but rules are rules and we must respect European law and then we will see what happens."

    Mrs May then spoke to reporters at 02:45 local time (01:45 BST). She said that although the delay extends until 31 October, the UK can leave before then if MPs pass her withdrawal deal.

    "I know that there is huge frustration from many people that I had to request this extension," she said.

    "The UK should have left the EU by now and I sincerely regret the fact that I have not yet been able to persuade Parliament to approve a deal."

    She added: "I do not pretend the next few weeks will be easy, or there is a simple way to break the deadlock in Parliament. But we have a duty as politicians to find a way to fulfil the democratic decision of the referendum, deliver Brexit and move our country forward.

    "Nothing is more pressing or more vital."

    The PM said that the UK "will continue to hold full membership rights and obligations [of the EU]" during the delay.

    You couldn't quite make it up. The new Brexit deadline is, you guessed it, Halloween.

    So to get all the terrible metaphors about horror shows, ghosts and ghouls out of the way right now, let's consider straight away some of the reasons why this decision is a treat in one sense, but could be a trick too.

    A treat? First and most importantly, the EU has agreed to put the brakes on. We will not leave tomorrow without a deal.

    The prime minister's acceptance that leaving the EU without a formal arrangement in place could be a disaster won out.

    And there are quite a few potential tricks. This new October deadline might not solve very much at all.

    This could, although I hate to say it, just make way for months of extra gridlock before the UK and the EU find themselves back here in a similar situation in the autumn.

    The EU had been split over the length of delay to offer the UK and by law they had to reach a unanimous decision. Although other EU countries backed a longer delay, French President Emmanuel Macron pushed for a shorter extension.

    The BBC's Katya Adler said that the date of 31 October was an indication that Mr Macron had "won the day". as his was the most hard-line voice in the room.

    Speaking afterwards, Mr Macron said: "For me, this is a good solution."

    He said EU leaders had partly decided to back a delay because Mrs May had explained she had started talks with the opposition party - "a first in decades in the British political system".

    Fudge and can-kicking are the EU-familiar words that spring to mind at the end of this Brexit summit.

    After all the drama and speculation leading up to the meeting, effectively all that happened here is that the threat of a no-deal Brexit has been postponed for another six months.

    Time enough for the EU to hold European parliamentary elections, choose a new president of the European Commission and pass a new budget - without EU leaders having to keep one eye at least on the day-to-day dramas in the House of Commons.

    Despite EU leaders' rhetoric beforehand, they granted this extension without hearing a convincing plan of Brexit action from Theresa May.

    In the summit conclusions there is no evidence of the punitive safeguards mooted to ensure the UK "behaves itself" - refraining from blocking EU decisions - as long as it remains a club member.

    Yes, EU leaders worry about who might replace Theresa May as prime minister. Yes, they're concerned these six months could fly past with the UK as divided as ever but their message to the UK tonight was: "We've done our bit. Now you do yours. It's up to you. Please use the time well."

    Mrs May was called back into the summit after EU leaders had talked for five hours to find their compromise solution.

    Before that, Mrs May had given a one-hour presentation putting forward her argument for the extension date to be 30 June.

    This was the second time Mrs May has gone to the EU to ask for a Brexit extension.

    So far, MPs have rejected the withdrawal agreement Mrs May reached with other European leaders last year and the House of Commons has also voted against leaving without a deal.

    May's next steps
    On Thursday, the PM will make a statement in the House of Commons
    Talks between the government and Labour are also due to continue
    Also on Thursday, Parliament will break up for its Easter break until 23 April - although further cross-party talks are expected to be held

    https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-47889404

  17. #337
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    UK parliament very likely to consider new Brexit referendum - Hammond

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - British finance minister Philip Hammond said on Friday it was very likely that the idea of a second Brexit referendum would again be put to parliament at some point, although the government remained opposed to any new plebiscite.

    Hammond also said time would be tight to hold a new referendum before Oct. 31 when Britain is due to leave the European Union.

    “It’s a proposition that could and, on all the evidence, is very likely to be put to parliament at some stage,” Hammond told reporters in Washington where he is attending meetings at the International Monetary Fund.

    The idea of a new referendum was among several Brexit alternatives to Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal that were put to lawmakers in the last month but which all fell short of a majority in parliament.

    Hammond said May’s government was sticking to its opposition to any new referendum.

    “The government’s position has not changed. The government is opposed to a confirmatory referendum and therefore we would not be supporting it,” he said.

    However, many lawmakers in the opposition Labour Party are putting pressure on their leader Jeremy Corbyn to include a new referendum in his demands in talks with the government about how to break the Brexit impasse in parliament.

    Hammond said he expected the government and Labour would strike a deal in the next couple of months.

    He said any new referendum would probably take six months to organise, meaning time would be tight ahead of the new, delayed Brexit date of Oct. 31 which was agreed by EU leaders this week.

    https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-47910820

  18. #338
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    'Here we go again! : 'One last chance' to get Brexit done, says PM

    Theresa May has told MPs they have "one last chance" to deliver Brexit, as she set out a "new Brexit deal".

    MPs will get a vote on whether to hold another referendum if they back the EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill, she said.

    The bill also contains new guarantees on workers' rights, environmental protections and the Irish backstop as well a customs "compromise".

    If MPs reject the bill, she warned them a negotiated exit would be "dead in the water" and Brexit could be stopped.

    MPs have rejected the withdrawal agreement negotiated with the EU three times.

    In what is seen as a last roll of the dice, Mrs May is now bringing the Withdrawal Agreement Bill - legislation required to bring the agreement into UK law - to Parliament in early June.

    'Common ground'
    In a speech in London, the prime minister said the deadlock over Brexit was having a "corrosive" impact on British politics and stopping progress in other areas.

    "We are making a new offer to find common ground in Parliament," she said. "That is the only way to deliver Brexit."

    She said MPs would have the chance to vote on whether to hold another referendum before the exit agreement was ratified and, if MPs backed it, the government would make the necessary arrangements.

    While she personally opposed another referendum on the terms of Brexit, the PM said she recognised the "genuine and sincere" feelings on the issue in Parliament,

    She urged MPs to back the Withdrawal Agreement Bill at its first parliamentary hurdle in and then "make the case" for another public vote when the bill was examined in detail.

    Mrs May also said there would be new legislation to ensure UK workers' rights were "no less favourable" than within the EU and guarantees that there would no dilution in environmental standards.

    In a move to reassure Tory Brexiteers, she said there would be a legal obligation on the government to find alternative arrangements to maintain an open border in Northern Ireland by the end of 2020 to ensure the controversial backstop plan never had to come into force.

    Northern Ireland would remain aligned with the rest of the UK, in terms of regulation, after Brexit and would not be part of a separate customs territory.

    Appealing to MPs to back her plan, she said it would honour the 2016 referendum result, adding: "I have compromised, now I ask you to compromise too."

    https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-48357017


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  19. #339
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    Apr 2013
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    Commons leader Andrea Leadsom quits government over Brexit

    Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom has quit the cabinet, saying she no longer believes the government's approach will deliver Brexit.

    Her resignation comes amid a backlash against Theresa May's Brexit plan from Conservative MPs.

    Several cabinet ministers have told the BBC that the PM cannot stay, with one saying it is "the end of the line".

    Mrs Leadsom previously ran for Tory leader but withdrew, clearing the path for Mrs May to become prime minister.

    As Commons leader, she was in charge of organising government business and had been due to announce when the prime minister's Withdrawal Agreement Bill would be introduced to Parliament.

    Her resignation is the 36th by a minister under Theresa May - 21 of them over Brexit - and comes a day before the UK votes in the European elections.

    https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-48374098


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  20. #340
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    36th resignation under May!


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