Thanks to Wednesday’s compromise in Brussels, the U.K. won’t be crashing out of the European Union on Friday without a Brexit deal. British leaders still have a lot of decisions ahead, and the way forward is no more clear than before.
Today in Parliament: There’s one reason for even the most hardline Brexiteer MP to celebrate the six-month extension: It means they get to go on recess! The recess, which starts tomorrow, might have been canceled if members still needed to hammer out a deal or cope with the fallout of a no-deal Brexit, but for now, they’ll have until April 23 to rest, relax, and plot coups against Theresa May.
May returned to London to brief Parliament on the “flextension” the EU had granted and urged her colleagues to “use the opportunity of the Recess to reflect on the decisions that will have to be made swiftly on our return after Easter. And let us then resolve to find a way through this impasse.”
The new Brexit deadline is Oct. 31, but under the terms of the extension, it can still happen sooner if Parliament would finally agree to pass May’s withdrawal agreement, which MPs have now rejected three times. May wants this to happen by this summer, so that the U.K. doesn’t have to participate in EU Parliament elections, but preparations for those elections are beginning anyway. Calls for a new referendum on Brexit are also growing now that there’s actually time to organize one before the deadline.
During Prime Minister’s Questions, May batted away reports that there’s been little headway in her cross-party talks with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, saying the two sides have substantial agreement on whether to keep Britain in a customs union with Europe, Labour’s main condition for supporting the withdrawal agreement and something which Brexiteers vehemently reject. She also refused to rule out asking for yet another extension and rejected one Tory MP’s call for her to resign.
The Guardian’s Andrew Sparrow notes that “in the Commons the Brexiter response was close to subdued,” considering the tumult that was supposedly going to break out if Brexit wasn’t delivered. Maybe everyone’s just ready for a break.
Today in polls: Several recent polls show Labour now solidly leading the Conservatives. Local elections on May 2 could turn into a referendum on the governing party’s failure to deliver Brexit. Paul Waugh of HuffPost UK suggests that the Liberal Democrats, rather than Labour, could end up being the big winners in that vote.
Today in What is Emmanuel Macron’s deal? The French president reportedly annoyed his fellow European leaders during Wednesday night’s dinner/debate in Brussels, when he insisted on speaking last and launched a one-man crusade to prevent the long Brexit extension of nine to 12 months that the other 26 leaders favored. Macron was unconvinced that the May-Corbyn talks would bear fruit and worried that Britain would play the role of spoiler if it stuck around in the EU Parliament too long after declaring its intention to leave. The Guardian reports that German officials were “very irritated” with Macron’s grandstanding. Macron tweeted on Wednesday that the Brexit distraction should be dealt with quickly since “we have a European renaissance to lead,” which is now going to be my default excuse for leaving any meeting that goes too long.
Today in Today in Brexit: With the deadline extended and Parliament going on recess, the pace of Brexit news is likely to slow quite a bit, so we’re going to stop publishing this column on a daily basis. But never fear, watch for “This Week in Brexit” starting next Thursday on this very website.
Days until next deadline: 204
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