EU Declines Yet Another Brexit Extension

Theresa May and the UK are quickly running out of options.

Having failed yet again to get Parliament to back her plan, Theresa May has been left scrambling. She has asked for more time. It is not forthcoming.

The Guardian (“Juncker rejects May appeal for a further short Brexit delay“):

Theresa May’s appeal for a short Brexit extension has been rejected by Jean-Claude Juncker, who said that unless the withdrawal deal was passed within nine days the UK would crash out of the EU or have to sign up to a long delay.

Less than 24 hours after May had spelled out her new strategy from Downing Street, the European commission president dismissed her request for an extension of article 50 to 22 May.

Speaking to the European parliament, Juncker instead set an “ultimate deadline” of 12 April for the Commons to approve the withdrawal agreement.

“If it has not done so by then, no further short extension will be possible,” he said. “After 12 April, we risk jeopardising the European parliament elections, and so threaten the functioning of the European Union.”

Juncker said that at that point the UK would face a no-deal Brexit but that the EU would not “kick out” a member state, in a reference to the certain offer of a lengthy extension of article 50.

The EU27 is looking at an extension until at least the end of the year, with the most probable end date being the end of March 2020.

Juncker said: “Yet I believe that a no deal at midnight on 12 April is now a very likely scenario. It is not the outcome I want. But it is an outcome for which I have made sure the European Union is ready.

“We have been preparing since December 2017. We have always known that the logic of article 50 makes a no deal the default outcome. We have long been aware of the balance of power in the House of Commons.”

Meanwhile, she is so desperate that she’s trying to cobble together a deal with the opposition Labour Party.

BBC (“Brexit: Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn hold ‘constructive’ talks“):

Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn have called talks to break the Brexit deadlock in Parliament “constructive”.

The two leaders met on Wednesday afternoon and agreed a “programme of work” to try to find a way forward to put to MPs for a vote.

It is understood that each party has appointed a negotiating team, which will meet later tonight ahead of a full day of discussions on Thursday.

A spokesman for No 10 said both sides were “showing flexibility”.

And he added that the two parties gave “a commitment to bring the current Brexit uncertainty to a close”.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Corbyn said there had not been “as much change as [he] had expected” in the PM’s position.

He said the meeting was “useful, but inconclusive”, and talks would continue.

The UK has until 12 April to propose a plan to the EU – which must be accepted by the bloc – or it will leave without a deal on that date.

It’s simply baffling to me that May, unable to months to cobble together enough votes from the coalition of MPs she leads, thinks that she is going to be bailed out by a minority party who wants to see her destroyed.

Meanwhile, backbenchers are behaving like spoiled children.

BBC (“Cooper: No-deal Brexit ‘would not be fair’“):

MPs now start their debate on Yvette Cooper’s bill aiming to prevent a no-deal Brexit.

Opening the debate, Ms Cooper says a no-deal Brexit would see the UK lose access to the European arrest warrant and criminal databases.

It also see border delays, which she says has already led the NHS to stockpile medicines.

“It will hit other people’s lives, and it is not fair,” she says.

Well, yeah. But people voted for Brexit and have since voted to keep the Tory party that engineered the disaster in power. I would prefer that the May deal be put up for a popular referendum with Stay as the only alternative. But that’s not gonna happen.

FILED UNDER: Europe
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Barry says:

    James: “Well, yeah. But people voted for Brexit and have since voted to keep the Tory party that engineered the disaster in power. I would prefer that the May deal be put up for a popular referendum with Stay as the only alternative. But that’s not gonna happen.”

    Where ‘Brexit means Brexit’. James, please have some consideration for us; we don’t have to believe that. The Leave campaign promised a large number of things, almost all of which are not coming true, and many of which were open lies.

    As this point, it’s overwhelmingly likely that (the formerly ‘Great’) Britain will provide political scientists and economists with a rich and horrifying data set on what happens when a first world country decides to chew its own fingers off, only stopping at the shoulders.

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  2. gVOR08 says:

    Is she trying to make an honest deal with Labour, or just trying to spread the blame for failure?

    This sounds like the EU is being pretty reasonable – If you go now, it’s crash out. But if you don’t go, we’ll play along with pretending you’re eventually going to.

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  3. James Joyner says:

    @Barry: I agree that a referundum of the form

    A. Remain (in the current, problematic system)
    B. Leave (with no bloody idea as to the terms)

    is monumentally stupid and that one in the form of

    A. Remain
    B. A specific alternative

    would have been not only better but likely to have gone the other way.

  4. Kathy says:

    @gVOR08:

    Is she trying to make an honest deal with Labour, or just trying to spread the blame for failure?

    Yes, as the Vorlons say.

  5. Sleeping Dog says:

    Be careful what you wish for.

    The EU is right, it is time to move on. If the UK had a reasonable chance to an exit strategy then an extension would make sense, but they’re no closer than when the referendum passed.

  6. Gustopher says:

    In Seattle, some people wanted a commuter monorail, rather than the toy monorail we have. It would extend through the entire city, above traffic, and it would be glorious.

    Monorail, monorail, monorail!

    We had roughly 5 votes on it, one to create a plan, one to approve the plan, one to approve the cities modifications to the plan, one to fund it, and one to say “are you sure?” Monorail lost that last one, after land had been purchased for stations, and taxes were being collected.

    I thought it was a fiasco having countless votes on it, but compared to Brexit, it was amazingly smooth and failed nicely.

    Still bitter that we don’t have our ridiculous monorail. Yes, it would have been a boondoggle, but it would have been a boondoggle on a single rail.

  7. Neil J Hudelson says:

    Look, I’ve written countless term papers the night before, and managed to graduate with flying colors.

    I’m sure Brexit will be just like that. Let’s take a look in a week’s time, when there’s finally some pressure to do something.

  8. Kathy says:

    @Gustopher:

    Monorail lost that last one

    Damn. I’m sure Lyle Lanley could have used the money.

    Seriously, is there a single, successful monorail public transit system anywhere in the world?

    On my first visit to Vegas, I used the monorail to move around. The stations were very far away from the actual casinos they served (except the Hilton’s, which now goes by a different name). This is not the best example, as it’s geared towards tourists. But there are plenty of very successful subway systems all over the world, or at least they’re packed solid most days.

  9. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Gustopher: @Kathy:
    Surely in Seattle you’d want a system of water slides. It would be 100% green. Just set an open tank in some high location and run tubing.

  10. Michael Reynolds says:

    Trump and Brexit, the Vegas and Sheffield respectively of governmental collapse. We do tacky, flashy, loud and vulgar, they do depressed, squalid, helpless and wet. I suspect in the end we’ll survive a bit better than they will. We can undo the rotting tangerine’s work, I’m not sure how the Brits will get past this self-inflicted wound.

  11. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Every year from late May to early October, I consider investing money on a submarine, or an amphibious landing craft…

    BTW, my worst case scenario for Brexit goes like this:

    1) Britain takes a long extension, as suggested, til perhaps March 2020.
    2) The inability of May, or her successor, to pass a deal continues unabated.
    3) As the second deadline looms large, say around October 2019, a second referendum is called.
    4) The Brits again vote “Leave.”

  12. JohnSF says:

    James, you say:

    It’s simply baffling … that May, unable to months to cobble together enough votes from the coalition of MPs she leads, thinks that she is going to be bailed out by a minority party who wants to see her destroyed.

    This has always been May’s objective: to manoeuvre toward a cliff-edge of No Deal, and play chicken to split the Labour votes.

    On the last vote 5 Labour MP’s backed her.
    Almost certainly more would break in the “national interest” if May could force an inescapable her deal/no deal choice.

    Her task would probably have been easier if she had taken the alternative route to victory: rule out No Deal and coerce the ERG.

    But that was probably ruled out by a calculation that offending the Brexiters too much would trigger full on revolt of the pro-Brexit Party activists.

  13. Stormy Dragon says:

    I think a no deal Brexit will be disastrous for the UK, but I kind of want to see it happen, so that they can serve as an example to future generations of what voting for unicorns gets you.

  14. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: When I was a small child of 10, going to the Seattle World’s Fair, the plan IIRC was that the Monorail would subsequently be expanded to the King Street Station (now the Amtrak Station) for reasons that were somewhat of a mystery to me as rail travel was already on its way out even then. The obstacle then was that the footprint for the tracks was already impractical in a Seattle where land downtown was a fraction of what it is now and there wasn’t a block, let alone a whole string of them, that could be demolished to provide both the monorail footings and a road that would carry the infinitesimally small, by comparison, traffic load that was Seattle rush hour in the 60s. Twas ever thus, doomed by the need to do something smart (which still took over 50 years by my accounting).

    I always wanted the Monorail to be something other than a tourist thing, too. I share your disappointment. On the other hand, in West Seattle (where I grew up) the Sound Transit elevated railway has hit the same snag at the West Seattle Junction. Who knew that “junction” was going to mean “terminus?”

  15. MarkedMan says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Unfortunately we have no shortage of horrible examples. Just look at the Republican Party since Reagan for a US example or, for a much darker one, Duterte I. The Philippines. It doesn’t seem to keep a significant segment from going down the same path.

  16. Gustopher says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: well, compared to laying tracks for the streetcar, and light rail, which just removes lanes for cars, an elevated monorail is still a good idea.

    Expensive, sure, but a good idea. As a man who enjoys my single occupancy vehicle, I want as many people as possible off my roads.

    Also, unlike the bus tunnel and the new viaduct-replacement tunnel, when the big earthquake hits, people won’t be trapped underground. They will be right there, in their monorail cars, lying on top of the traffic, having fallen thirty feet or so. Less worse!

  17. JohnSF says:

    Hmm.

    Made another comment which seems to have been eaten by the spam filter sharks.

    Anyway, to follow up my previous comment: of course May’s hope was to split Labour not to co-operate with it.

    And Corbyn will be looking for a way to drive home the knife.

    But he and his circle do have some incentives to do a deal with May:
    1) they are Brexiteers themselves
    2) they are fixated by the promise of winning/threat of losing Leaver votes
    3) for some reason they either overlook the polling that indicates that in most Labour contestable seats the majority of Labour and floating voters are Remain-inclined; or else assume those voters have nowhere else to go.
    4) Some of the more barking hard left are inclining to “revolutionary defeatism” aka “the worse, the better”: let the Conservatives crash out, come to power in the aftermath, use the economic chaos as a rationale for full bore socialist policies.

    Corbynites might be unwise to test their luck too far, though.
    The Conservatives are at present the obvious victims of internecine war, but a lot of MP’s viscerally distrust Corbyn and his allies, both re. principles and political ability; Labour could easily follow the Conservatives into disintegration. Seven Remainer MP’s have already walked.

    Also, unlike other policy areas, where Corbyn was able to appeal to the inclinations of the activists, on Europe the Corbynites are decidedly in the minority in the party at large.

    A Corbynite attempt to support May in return for a “softer” Brexit and kudos from Leavers risks a Labour Remainer revolt unless they attach a referendum.

    And given a likely Conservative revolt at the same time for opposite reasons, even a Corbyn/May pact could fail in the teeth of these splits.

    It seems increasingly likely that they only route out of Parliamentary deadlock might be a second referendum; which would then require a prolonged extension, which the EU might be unlikely to grant without certainty on what the question would be.

    This would also certainly trigger a frenzy of manoeuvring for (and against) a general election, and its timing (before or after referendum).

    ERG/Brexiters would be desperate to seize full control of the Conservative Party and force an exit of some kind if a referendum threatened to snatch away their triumph.

  18. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher:

    Also, unlike the bus tunnel and the new viaduct-replacement tunnel, when the big earthquake hits, people won’t be trapped underground.

    Good point. Have you heard anything about how the viaduct tunnel is going to address the problem of having to cross Spring Street–so named for the underground river that flows into Puget Sound under it?

  19. Barry says:

    @Neil J Hudelson: You forgot the sarcasm tags 🙂

  20. grumpy realist says:

    Comment from John Crace on today’s leak in the HoC:

    Fed up with the incompetence of its occupants, the building itself turned on the Commons chamber, pouring water in through the ceiling.

    Honestly. You. Could. Not. Make. It. Up.

  21. Kathy says:

    I’m beginning to seriously entertain the possibility that some powerful sorcerer or enchantress placed a really bad curse on the British.

    I mean, it makes more sense, on first glance, than the ongoing self-destructive behavior.

  22. An Interested Party says:

    I’m beginning to seriously entertain the possibility that some powerful sorcerer or enchantress placed a really bad curse on the British.

    Morgan le Fay’s revenge, perhaps? Sadly, there is no modern day Arthur or Merlin to save them…