How does that work?
Extending Brexit is a job for EU leaders, say quite a few diplomatic sources. The EU’s 27 heads of state and authorities must resolve unanimously at an EU summit on Thursday 21 March. However first the UK has to ask. The EU can’t contemplate the query till the British authorities makes a proper request to increase article 50.
Would the EU say sure?
In all probability. Whereas any single nation has the proper to dam a Brexit extension, most diplomats assume the EU would agree, though this can’t be taken with no consideration.
The wildcard is that EU leaders have by no means mentioned the difficulty and sometimes take a stricter line than officers. In December, for instance, EU leaders determined it could be pointless granting the UK additional authorized assurances on the Irish backstop, concluding that one other authorized paper was unlikely to sway MPs in favour of a Brexit treaty. It turned out they have been proper. However blocking an extension could possibly be seen as tantamount to forcing the UK to go away the EU with no deal. The EU doesn’t need to go down in historical past with the blame for Brexit.
And the British request issues: the UK should be capable to present “a credible justification for a potential extension and its length”, a spokesman for the European council president, Donald Tusk, has stated.
What’s a ‘credible justification’?
That’s not solely clear. The European parliament’s Brexit co-ordinator, Man Verhofstadt, has stated he opposes “any extension of article 50, even only for 24 hours, if it isn’t based mostly on a transparent majority from the Home of Commons in favour of one thing”. Some EU sources say “credible justification” means time to carry a common election or a referendum. Others don’t have any mounted view, and member states don’t need to be boxed in with strict standards.
A brief “technical” extension of two to a few months to permit parliament to move Brexit laws would have been simple to agree if MPs had voted for the Brexit withdrawal settlement.
Now the deal has gone down in flames, the EU faces a dilemma. A brief extension is seen as heightening the possibilities of the UK tumbling out of the EU simply earlier than European elections. However an extended extension means the EU could possibly be slowed down in Brexit for months or years, whereas quite a few international and financial coverage issues are jostling for consideration.
Many see a brief extension as pointless. “The issue is that after the large defeat of [Tuesday] it’s onerous to consider that we are able to repair the deal if she will get three extra sentences on the backstop,” a senior supply stated.
Numerous choices have been mooted, from three to 21 months, however there is no such thing as a mounted view.
What do EU gamers assume?
Germany doesn’t need to rush the UK out of the door and thinks the Brexit debate would profit from respiration area. France additionally desires to maintain choices open, regardless of robust discuss in public from Emmanuel Macron. Some conventional allies, such because the Netherlands, have voiced impatience. Some within the EU establishments are anxious about Brexit “polluting” the EU’s agenda for months, with no upside.
Would there be strings connected?
Brexiters have raised the prospect of Brussels attaching robust situations to any Brexit extension, however the EU could be certain by its personal legal guidelines. The UK would stay an EU member state with the rights and obligations that entails, together with annual funds to the EU price range, upholding judgments from the European court docket of justice and collaborating in European elections.
So Nigel Farage might stay an MEP?
EU officers say the UK should be represented within the European parliament if it’s a member state. Officers are incredulous that the British authorities could be able to countenance “a blatant treaty violation of the rights of their residents”, within the phrases of 1 supply.
British residents and EU residents dwelling within the UK might go to the European court docket to problem the absence of British MEPs or legal guidelines from a parliament not representing them.
So the previous Ukip chief might run once more in European elections – together with the UK’s 72 different MEPs, who largely get far much less consideration.
Some British politicians assume there’s a fast repair: for instance, a treaty change that might permit the federal government to nominate MEPs for a restricted interval. However the final EU treaty modification – a eurozone disaster modification in 2011 – took two and a half years to be ratified by the EU’s 28 parliaments. Senior officers have concluded this feature will not be real looking.
What occurs now?
If MPs vote for extra time, triggering a request from the federal government, diplomatic exercise will intensify. Tusk will meet Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron, Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, and Leo Varadkar, the Irish prime minister, over the approaching days, in what can be essential encounters in influencing the result.
However this high-wire choice is unlikely to be pre-cooked. The ultimate judgment can be made by EU leaders subsequent Thursday – a mere eight days earlier than the Brexit sands run out.