Juncker Rejects Theresa May's Short Extension Request, Indicative Votes Over
In yet another unexpected Brexit twist, Juncker Rejects May Appeal for a Further Short Brexit 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 jeopardizing the European parliament elections, and so threaten the functioning of the European Union.”
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.”
No More Indicative Votes
By a 311-310 vote with Commons Speaker John Bercow breaking the tie, the Guardian Live reports Bercow Uses Casting Vote to Stop Backbench Indicative Votes on Monday.
Where Are We?
It is up to Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn to come up with a mechanism by April 11, that Parliament and the EU will Accept.
Brexit has now literally reached the moment of crisis in the classical Greek sense of the word: a turning point. This can now go two ways: either Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn reach a compromise or, failing that, the UK can still crash out of the EU without a deal. A new avenue has opened up, but the odds of no-deal Brexit are the same.
The new situation leaves EU leaders no choice but to go along with it for now.
Better strike that last sentence. The EU just announced it will not go along. They have had enough.
The statement came from Juncker, but perhaps it was France who rejected May's request.
We will know within a few days whether May and Corbyn can reach agreement, or whether this goes back to the House of Commons. The main constraints for both leaders is the enormous radicalisation in British politics. A majority of 14 out of 27 cabinet ministers are now in favour of a no-deal Brexit. And a YouGov poll has 44% of Brits in favour of a no-deal Brexit against 42% Remain - if this were to be the final trade-off.
On a technical level, the route forward is relatively straight-forward. As we have been arguing before, the solution lies in changing the political declaration. Andrew Duff has an interesting new proposal. The European Council could separate withdrawal agreement and political declaration, and agree to have the latter amended and finalised during the transition period. A customs union would be, in our view, a sensible framework for a discussion, but it is not an off-the-shelf solution that can be agreed between two party leaders at a meeting. Nor does it solve the Irish border backstop problem. So, if there is compromise, it will be more about procedure than concrete outcomes.
On a technical level that may be the case. But will the EU go along with it? They think they are prepared. Moreover, it's clear from Macron that France has had enough.
The danger for May is that by pivoting towards the customs union May could lose more Tory MPs who supported her deal than Labour MPs who switch. It is not clear that, even if May and Corbyn were to agree on a compromise, it would find favour in the Commons. We assume it would.
This leaves us this morning with a similar set of choices as before: some version of a future relationship, based on the existing withdrawal agreement, versus a no-deal Brexit if this process falters. Both scenarios would be consistent with elections. No matter what happens now, May's government is likely to lose its majority.
The important thing to remember is that May's priority is to secure Brexit, not for her successor to win an election. Herein lies a political opportunity for compromise. There is a clear but narrow path forward. And we don't think the Tory party is ready for an election at this point. Her hand is perhaps a little stronger than it would appear.
Before Tuesday, no one really knew what May's second priority was.
Yesterday we found out.
Any Deal Better Than No Deal
After insisting for years that no deal was better than a bad deal, May revealed her true colors: Any deal is better than no deal.
She appears willing to subject the EU to an absurd customs union if necessary.
It would be better to remain than do that.
I expected all along that the final vote would be May's Deal or No Deal. Most of the time that was the view of Eurointelligence.
The last two days changed that.
It is still possible of course, if May and Corbyn cannot come to agreement. It is even conceivable that May does not plan on coming to agreement, simply to force her desired binary choice.
I do not know the outcome, but we find out in a few days.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock