EU Postpones Brexit Extension Request, Be Careful of What Story You Believe

-edited

The EU will not respond to Johnson's alleged request for an extension until Friday. Several things are in play.

Guy Verhofstadt Weighs In

Guy Verhofstadt is the European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator.

That's an opinion you can at least partially toss aside.

Q: Which part?

A: "European Parliament needs time to scrutinize in detail, especially concerning citizens rights."

That's a joke. The Withdrawal Agreement won't be changed again. Nor will the European Parliament veto it as it would immediately lead to No Deal.

Verhofstadt is a pompous ass to put things lightly.

Q: Which part is believable?

A: There will not be a long extension. By that I mean after Jan 31 which is what Tusk wants.

The European Parliament can reject or accept. That is it.

Overall Rating: Mostly Noise

Donald Tusk Weighs In

Tusk has always extension after extension, until the UK gets it right, which in his eyes is to remain.

Overall Rating: Total Noise

Johnson Phones Merkel

Guardian Live Comments

The Irish taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, and the European parliament’s president have backed Donald Tusk’s call to grant the UK government a Brexit delay up to 31 January 2020. Following a phone call between Tusk, the president of the European council, and Varadkar on Wednesday morning, the two men agreed the EU27 should agree to the request reluctantly tabled by Boris Johnson on Saturday.

Once again, any extension must be unanimous. These are views of two people, one has no vote.

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn met with Boris Johnson today, on an election timetable. As you might have expected, nothing was agreed upon.

Macron Holds the Key

"Gov't side predicted Macron would veto EU extension."

That I do not believe. But I do believe Macron may not accept anything but a short extension.

My Comments Yesterday

The key concept is that a delay until January solves nothing. In fact, it increases the odds of No Deal.

I believe Macron is aware of this. Tusk and Verhofstadt are oblivious.

Eurointelligence Weighs In This Morning

Watch out for Macron in the Brexit extension debate.

Among the sources we monitor we noted two reports from France suggesting that Brexit extension may not be as clear-cut as the news reports from Brussels suggest. One French commentator said that Emmanuel Macron was not happy with the three-month extension proposed by Donald Tusk. An AfP report quoted an unnamed French minister as saying that France would be happy with an extension of a few days only.

We do not want to arrive at any hard conclusions from these snippets of information. The European Council’s instinct is to extend and pretend. Macron might bow to the majority. Then again, the consensus view in Brussels generally fails to understand the French position. We recall how everybody was shocked by the French veto on the accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania. If you had followed the French debate more closely, you would have been less surprised. The Brexit debate also has a different quality in France.

So let’s look at the scenarios after last night’s two votes - one in favour of the agreed deal and one opposed to the timetabling motion. If the European Council goes for a three month extension - as officially requested by the UK - we have no doubt that Boris Johnson will pull the bill and try to organise elections. But this is not clear-cut either. Labour may stall. There is a lot of opposition within the Labour party. Then again, Jeremy Corbyn would look very weak if he tried to bottle out again, having promised that he would come out in favour of elections immediately after an extension. The Labour leadership also knows that the SNP wants elections. That means there is not much point in resisting the process, since a Tory/SNP majority could easily pass a separate election law to override the fixed-term parliament act. Such a bill would need passage in the House of Lords. It would be a longer process, with elections probably not happening this year.

In the other scenario the European Council agrees only to a short extension, say a month, to force the House of Commons to accelerate its decision. We think this would be a reasonable compromise. The withdrawal bill is sufficiently complex to warrant more scrutiny than a mere three days. But the danger is that a long extension would give the UK parliament another opportunity to procrastinate.

Yesterday’s success at the second reading of the bill was important, but we should not take the bill’s ultimate passage for granted. Some Labour MPs in leave-vote seats have supported it so they can maintain their Brexit credentials. Some of them want a customs union, and might drop their support once it becomes clear that there is no majority.

The official position of the European Council is that they want to stay neutral, i.e. not get involved in the UK’s internal decision making. So the idea is to take the official request and simply accept it. An early break clause might be a compromise. But Macron could say that this was tried before, and failed. Why should it be different this time?

Same Page

Eurointelligence and I are clearly on the same page.

We have snippets from Tusk and Verhofstadt but all we have is snippets from the other side.

However, just because Tusk and Verhofstadt are clueless does not mean their position will lose.

The key point now is that a short extension or conditional extension is very much in play despite comments from Tusk and the European Council.

Whatever decision comes out on Friday, it will likely be "unanimous" no matter how much infighting there was to arrive at the decision.

Means to an Election

Johnson can request one. I expect it would be voted down.

He could pass a one-line bill demanding one. That would only take 50% and it would pass.

Eurointelligence commented "A Tory/SNP majority could easily pass a separate election law to override the fixed-term parliament act.

Yes, but.....

Why not age 12 with voting at school?

That's how far these jackasses will go to stop Brexit.

Clarification Delay Until Friday

The delay until Friday aids Johnson.

He may not accept or reject until Monday whether the extension is short or long. Then again, why then?

Definitions

  1. Very Short: 10 days or less
  2. Short: 11 days to 3 weeks
  3. Intermediate: longer than 3 weeks but no longer than Jan 31.
  4. Long: Anything beyond Jan 31. That''s what Tusk wants.
  5. Flexible: Makes no sense UK will not do anything but delay. But I do not rule it out.
  6. Conditional: France demands a way forward such as elections.

Options 1-4 are mutually exclusive.

Options 5-6 are mutually exclusive.

Options 5 applies to options 1-4.

Option 6 applies to options 1-3. A way forward rules out a long extension and perhaps even an intermediate extension.

Running Out the Clock

The Benn Bill never stipulated a timeline in which Johnson had to accept. What if Johnson just runs out the clock?

What if Johnson files a legal challenge to Benn next week? On October 31.

I am not suggesting these things are likely.

Rather, I caution against foregone conclusions given all the twists and turns we have seen.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (44)
No. 1-10
Harry-Ireland
Harry-Ireland

Verhofstadt is the personification of the horrorshow that is the EU. Clearly, the remainers and the EU seek to delay, have a second referendum and continue to twist, worm and weasel to overturn the leave-vote. That's as good a conclusion from the last three years and unless an election deals with these traitors swiftly, nothing will happen.

goldendase
goldendase

Looks like a server redirect for the main mishtalk site is messed up. If you just go to moneymaven.io/mishtalk it redirects to mavensports.

Deep Purple
Deep Purple

I agree that a short extension is in the cards. If the time is not enough for a general election, that choice can keep the gridlock in place, so it fits the years-old strategy of the EU.

I don't expect Johnson to run out the clock in this case. He can increase the pressure, yes, but there will be a point when it leads to a vote of no confidence and an interim government (because of "no deal worries"). Alternatively, he can try to push through his deal. On this path, the biggest hurdle is the customs union amendment of Labour which is essentially another gimmick to bring him down.

Yancey_Ward
Yancey_Ward

I think Johnson's plan is very clear at this point- he won't accept the extension unless it is paired with an election before the end of the year, or it is only for a week at most to get the WA enacted. The Article 50 language is very clear- an extension can't be given without the consent of Johnson and HMG- the UK Parliament has no standing as the UK representative, and so can't accept the extension legally. Of course, it is well possible that the law doesn't matter any more and the EU will ignore this problem, but such an action would only strengthen Johnson's political position because it would immunize him from the blowback from an extension in the first place- he could simply point out that the EU ignored its own laws to grant the extension.

Remain keeps digging their holes deeper here- the delays are causing them to lose the political support they had. They need to bite the bullet and do one of three things- (1) replace Johnson with a caretake Remain government, (2) let elections occur before the end of the year where the main item on any manifesto is going to be Remain/Exit, or (3) revoke Article 50. I am guessing they don't have the votes for 1 or 3, so that leaves only 2.

Mish
Mish

Editor

Definitions Added

1: Very Short: 10 days or less

2: Short: 11 days to 3 weeks

3: Intermediate: longer than 3 weeks but no longer than Jan 31.

4: Long: Anything beyond Jan 31. That''s what Tusk wants.

5: lexible: Makes no sense as UK will not do anything but delay. But I do not rule it out.

6: Conditional: France demands a way forward such as elections.

Options 1-4 are mutually exclusive.

Options 5-6 are mutually exclusive.

Options 5 applies to options 1-4.

Option 6 applies to options 1-3. A way forward rules out a long extension and perhaps even an intermediate extension.

Mish
Mish

Editor

Johnson might go with two weeks - Three is getting iffy but possible, depending on "conditions".

If France demand a way forward, as in elections Johnson would probably accept.

In that case if the Bill was amended, he would pull it, and possibly even accept a longer extension to say Jan 31.

Mish
Mish

Editor

Johnson does not want No Deal before an election.

After might very well be an entirely different matter. At worst, he would be more neutral, about it.

This is why a long extension is very risky for the EU.

More on this in a bit.

avidremainer
avidremainer

Mish, you and others continually refer to the Benn Bill. There is no such thing. Once it was given the la reine le veult it became an Act.

Six000mileyear
Six000mileyear

"6. Conditional: France demands a way forward such as elections"

Wouldn't an agreement to such an offer constitute "foreign influence", which would void the offer?

Anda
Anda

The UK has it very backwards now. Parliament not only has claimed a positive right over the prime minister's actions, but it is further reinforcing the negation of royal authority. For example

2)If the European Council decides to agree an extension of the period in Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union ending at 11.00pm on 31 October 2019, but to a date other than 11.00pm on 31 January 2020, the Prime Minister must, within a period of two days beginning with the end of the day on which the European Council's decision is made, or before the end of 30 October 2019, whichever is sooner, notify the President of the European Council that the United Kingdom agrees to the proposed extension. (3)But subsection (2) does not apply if the House of Commons has decided not to pass a motion moved by a Minister of the Crown within a period of two calendar days beginning with the end of the day on which the European Council's decision is made or before the end of 30 October 2019, whichever is sooner, in the following form— “That this House has approved the extension to the period in Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union which the European Council has decided.”

Which simply put obliges the PM to be messenger for parliament to EU asking for an extension on behalf of "government" , says that he must agree to whatever extension EU offers (obviously as a continuation of the power enclosed with the initial request), but must then retract that agreement if parliament votes it down. This is not just absurd but is simply sick. To add to that, in essence the prime minister is being put in a position where the EU might grant an extension of many years, and he have to accept that "by law". If it were last minute parliament would not be able to vote it down. Frankly, parliament has shown itself to be treasonous by purposefully placing the destiny of UK into the hands of a foreign power, reducing the authority of government with regards to that to zero.

Those (the) pontificator who comments here will surely have his excuses of how parliament can later decide and change at will, like some supreme entity. What a [redacted] . In the real world, for the future integrity of UK, and according to the manner of legal tradition that makes Britain exemplary, you don't mess around with the meaning of your word.