France Says Brexit "Pressure Must Be Maintained"

-edited

Boris Johnson has found an EU ally at last. France appears to be holding firm.

The EU was supposed to have announced today its decision on a Brexit extension. However, that decision has been delayed, possibly until Tuesday, as France has decided there must be a way forward.

For weeks I have suggested this outcome, but mainstream media rejected it, as did many of my own readers.

However, the theory can no longer be rejected.

There is one country standing in the way – France,” a diplomat said.

Pressure Must Be Maintained

Please consider EU Delays Brexit Extension Decision as France Piles Pressure on MPs.

During a meeting of EU diplomats, the French ambassador stood alone in arguing that it was not the right time to agree a three-month delay, in a move that will be welcomed in Downing Street.

Only after the vote on Monday should the EU decide to “go short, to push for ratification, or long to accommodate a general election”, the ambassador told the other member states, according to a diplomatic note.

Sources close to the French president, Emmanuel Macron, later claimed an extension was “not a given” and needed to be justified. “But we have nothing of the sort so far”, the source said. “Pressure must be maintained.”

The prevarication in Brussels, and Macron’s swing behind Johnson’s strategy for getting a deal passed, will leave the issue of an extension in doubt with as little as 48 hours to go before the UK is due to leave.

Johnson has said he will give MPs until 6 November for further scrutiny of the withdrawal agreement bill if Labour accedes to his request for a general election on 12 December.

The 26 other member states are understood to have argued that France was playing a dangerous game by “playing ping-pong with the UK and reacting to every twist and turn”. “Let’s take a step back,” one diplomat said.

The delay is politically difficult for Jeremy Corbyn, who had said Labour would only vote in favour of a general election if the EU confirmed it would grant an extension to 31 January, taking a no-deal Brexit off the table.

Key Details

"If the three-month extension to 31 January is offered, Johnson will have to agree to it. A different formulation would require parliament to pass a motion endorsing the extension request. Johnson would then need to formally agree to it with the EU by 30 October or within 48 hours, depending on which is earlier. "

It seems we have found another flaw, perhaps even the first one in the Benn Act.

Does a tiered extension quality as "different formulation"? I believe so.

Thus, the UK may have to do something within 48 hours, two days, not one, assuming the above statement is indeed accurate.

If Johnson can manage to delay until October 30, agreeing to the extension, it could be too late. And it will not be UK courts deciding. Rather it would be the EU.

Eurointelligence Take

What's behind Johnson's election gamble?

There is virtually no point in trying to make Brexit predictions. The single biggest factor to determine the outcome may well be a political miscalculation - by Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn, the EU, or some combination thereof. What is clear to us is that we will not get out of this mess until and unless the EU starts to attach conditions to an extension.

Developments in Westminster and Brussels are interacting with each other. There is an element of a chicken-and-egg going on. The Labour Party does not want to declare its position on an early election until it knows the EU's decision. Likewise, the EU wants to know whether Johnson's idea of a December 12 election could fly. The Council may not make its decision until after Monday's Commons vote.

The Times commentator Iain Martin, who normally supports the Tories, says that Number 10 may have completely missed the change in mood after it managed to secure a majority in the second reading of the withdrawal bill. Johnson should go through with it. We agree: this is now the best opportunity to deliver Brexit.

Strongly Disagree

Labour demand ruling out No Deal. Labour will also demand a no-WTO agreement following acceptance of the Withdrawal Agreement.

And who the hell knows what Labour will demand once they get going?

They may demand a referendum, although that would fail.

We would thus expect the House of Commons to reject Johnson's December 12 election request, but to push for another date in the New Year instead. Johnson said in that case he would pull the withdrawal legislation, and would keep on reminding the electorate day-in and day-out that the Labour Party is running away from elections. The Commons, meanwhile, could in theory take control of the order papers once more and continue the legislative process regardless. They might dig up Theresa May's deal, which the opposition parties like better. The problem remains the second referendum. None of the opposition can accept a Brexit withdrawal agreement without a second referendum, but there is no majority for a referendum unless a number of Tory MPs formally change their position. That is perhaps the biggest danger of Johnson's high-stakes gamble. If he messes this up, and another 20 Tory MPs leave the party in order to support May's old bill, a second referendum would then become possible. We think the odds of that happening are very low, especially since everybody expects elections to happen soon.

The main purpose of Johnson's manoeuvre yesterday is to put pressure on the EU not to grant an unconditional three-month extension. We would not rule out that Johnson is coordinating with one of the EU leaders, perhaps Emmanuel Macron. The French president was never going to veto an extension, as some people either hoped or feared. But Macron and Johnson have a joint interest in an extension having political conditions attached. Labour's biggest problem might in the end turn out to be the EU.

Cannot Rule Out What Is Happening

We now have confirmation that Johnson is indeed coordinating with Macron, something many refused to believe could possibly happen.

Now France is saying "an extension is not a given” . That's something even I rejected, perhaps incorrectly.

Why Might France Buck the EU?

I have made the case many times. Let's recap.

  1. France is sick of this mess more than any other nation.
  2. France does not want the UK wrecking its policy in the European Parliament (EP). Perhaps Johnson even said that to Macron.
  3. France and Germany are at odds over many issues in the EP.
  4. France picks up EP seats once the UK leaves. Germany does not.

Bluff?

We do not know if France is buffing on No Deal. Nor does anyone else, except perhaps Johnson.

But if France withholds support until Tuesday, Labour is going to be damn well pressed to do something.

The Liberal Democrats and SNP will be even more pressed. After all, an election serves both SNP and Jo Swinson of the Liberal Democrats even more so.

How So?

Let's answer that with a question I have asked many time previously: If this is resolved before an election, what happens to the Liberal Democrat's Remain proposal?

Clearly it is dead in the water.

And what happens to the Brexit Party?

Same answer.

Finally, please note that Swinson cannot stand Corbyn. She has a second agenda of getting rid of him.

Election?

So, after seemingly everyone but me rejected the notion of an election announcement on Monday, it is now clearly in play.

It depends on whether Labour is will to call Macro's bluff, assuming of course, Macron is bluffing.

The date might not be Dec 12.

An election on January 9 with an extension until January 31 is more likely.

Conclusion

If France delays until the 29th, and the offer is not precisely an extension until January 31, Johnson might be able to force No Deal, and blame it on Labour.

This puts elections in play.

Meanwhile, Thank You France!

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (68)
No. 1-20
Harry-Ireland
Harry-Ireland

Wow. Who would've thought. I actually find the French explanation quite refreshing. Rather than forcing themselves into British politics, they're forcing the U.K. to stop the 'fictional politics' and finally take responsibility. Meanwhile, Corbyn is weakened by this move and unless I've got it all wrong, it's either an election or the WDA gets passed. I'd be very surprised if the No Deal next Thursday would be allowed to happen.

avidremainer
avidremainer

Why do you say Labour will demand a WTO agreement? I can't see a Jan 9th GE. The Tory MPs will have to leave the ski slopes early and they won't like that.

Mish
Mish

Editor

Avid Remainer - I left off a a "no" corrected.

Mish
Mish

Editor

A No-WTO deal can easily be circumvented if Johnson wins, but a referendum would be more messier.

If France hold firm, there are only two dates that make any sense.

Dec 12, Jan 9

Jan 9 allows enough time for UK and EU parliaments to finish the job. It would be one of those dates. I would prefer Dec 12, but Labour would probably prefer Jan 9.

Mish
Mish

Editor

AvidRemainer, what is your take on 48 hours? Is that actually worded correctly or did the Guardian mess up?

krage
krage

Let me summarize it like this:

  • All key players want Brexit to happen as soon as possible, Oct 31 ideally, to move on
  • This inlcudes Labor where Corbyn is brexiter and Labor needs to move on past Brexit to get votes back. Corbyn also does not accept the deal.
  • This includes Johson, he still wants to keep promise about Brexit and really move forward with legislative agenda. His deal is a shame which will stay with him forever in history if enacted.
  • This includes EU key players, who want to move on to other key issues. The deal they won could backfire with time.

While all of them wants it, all wants to avoid blame for hard brexit. So, the ideal solution would be orchestrated accidental Brexit where circumstances would be arranged in such a way that no one party could be obviously blamed!

Specifically:

  • Labor will bllock elections
  • Macron will delay extention
  • Johson will delay extention processing

Too late.. we have got the brexit...

Mish
Mish

Editor

Johnson is required to immediately accept a straight-up Jan 31 offer, but allegedly nothing else. So the Benn bill is clearly flawed now isn't it?

In case of anything but a straight-up offer, it turns out that Johnson would not accept but present it to parliament.

But another flaw turns up. Benn does not require Johnson to submit the the offer the same day. Say the EU comes back on the 29th.

On the 30th, Johnson does not submit it but rather gives Parliament one more shot at elections.

Possible Scenario AvidRemainer?

Mish
Mish

Editor

If elections are agreed upon, I believe Johnson can (and if so, would) prorogue Parliament until they happen.

AvidRemainer, is that correct?

Bagger
Bagger

The Benn Act is clear on procedure if extension is not to 31st Jan. The default is that Prime Minister must accept revised date within 2 days but not later than 30th October. This requirement does not apply if Parliament has passed a motion to not accept it. Macron delaying doesn't get round Benn Act - unless he delays until 31st! The delay still suits Boris since it distracts Parliament from introducing further wrecking tactics and puts pressure on Corbyn

Country Bob
Country Bob

"France" is not keeping pressure on the UK. Most of France cannot tolerate the corruption and arrogance that is Paris.

Paris, and more specifically a cabal of French politicians are trying to convince themselves that they are still important, even though the world has realized Paris no longer matters.

Ensign_Nemo
Ensign_Nemo

There will be new rules for majority voting instead of unanimous voting, and other changes to EU procedures under the Lisbon Treaty.

Exactly when are these rules going to be implemented? Some Brexiteers have claimed that they could go into effect as early as January 1, 2020. Other sources dispute these claims.

I have not seen any trustworthy, nonpartisan summary of what is going to change and how this might affect Brexit if things drag on into a fourth year of bickering.

Is it possible that the EU wants to extend this circus into next year and thereby change the rules for voting and other procedures, to the detriment of the UK?

Is the Lisbon Treaty yet another obscure legalism that can be used to delay Brexit?

This is an angle that nobody has yet mentioned here.

Mish
Mish

Editor

Quatloo
Quatloo

Anda
Anda

Mish, I think this passage from the Ben bill (it's a bill because it costs )

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.”

In other words 2) PM must agree in the timeframe given (and without pre-condition) to whatever is offered unless 3) the commons has DECIDED not to pass a motion IF placed by a minister agreeing to that offer.

It is assumed that ministerial choice is one and the same as the PMs will, that is to say that the PM or a minister would introduce the motion if they wished to share or redirect responsibility for the decision to accept a different date, instead of simply agreeing.

However it is quite clear that agreeing trumps the ability of the legislature to be able to pass or reject the motion.

As such it is clear that the PM might be forced to accept the offer based only on the Ben bill. This is known by EU negotiators.

It is also possible that the PM agrees, but that by some means a minister introduces a motion in opposition.

It also would appear to give the PM a free hand to accept any date, as long as he accepts a date offered.

This in turn allows the EU to offer any date it chooses, as long as it thinks the commons would pass it if offered as motion by a minister.

Two days, two years, the choice is yours and the answer is yes by PM or yes by commons, or even no by PM but yes by commons. Commons will only vote no if the offer is as good as no already.

Fulgurite
Fulgurite

“ For weeks I have suggested this outcome, but mainstream media rejected it, as did many of my own readers.”

That’s because you don’t understand the Frenchies.

The French are only in it for ONE thing: themselves. They used to play the same trick ~20 years ago when it came to EUSSR subsidies for French farmers: block all progress until THEY get what they want. Then the EUSSR game can continue, and the Politburo in Brussels definitely wants the U.K. inside the EU. This is the final target and once the French have blackmailed Zee Germans into getting what THEY want (fuck know what, more moneee, Lagarde as head of ECB, more subsidies, more French people at key EUSSR politburo positions) THEN they will screw the British just as hard as Merkel and Verhofstadt.

Fulgurite
Fulgurite

“ We do not know if France is buffing on No Deal. Nor does anyone else, except perhaps Johnson.”

You honestly believe that Macron will be on the level with Johnson?! 😳🤣

JustASimpleMan
JustASimpleMan

Johnson knows how the Frenchies think, what they want and will have arranged things well in advance to progress the end game to his need and their wants.

After we're out, they can bugger up the EU as fast as they like, the quicker the better. The not so long game is that we'll be watching ready to pick up the pieces when it all implodes.

I'd recommend reading "1000 Years of Annoying the French" by Steven Clark. it nicely sums up our relationship with them and our completely different world view. He's also written "How the French Won Waterloo - Or Think They Did", a view recently promulgated by a French PM, no less. They're not just across the channel, they're on a different planet.

I've been a voice in the wilderness all week saying 31st October is still on, with or without. It won't be an error though, it will be deliberate, facilitated by Corbyn who will cop the blame. At this point, Johnson is having a battle of wits with an unarmed man.

HenryV
HenryV

I think one thing was perhaps very telling once the withdrawal act passed its second reading and the timetable was then kicked into the long stuff by parliament ... did anyone notice Barnier’s immediate reaction? They guy was incandescent with rage and stormed past reporters refusing to speak. Maybe he knows the consequences of this better than any of us at this point in time and from his perspective they are not too favourable. Maybe I’m reading too much into this.

BaronAsh
BaronAsh

The French can perhaps be described as 'grandes gastronomiques.' Barnier had worked very hard with Johnson and the Taoiseach to serve up a sophisticated, delicious feast which all parties could tuck into heartily.

And then those damned enmerdant British Parliamentarian Cochons turned the whole thing into yet another Do-Nothing Blame-The-Other-Side effing food fight!

Naturally, he was not pleased. (Sacré Bleu! Mon potage magnifique est encore une fois jeté sans aucun pudeur dans la Grande Poubelle Britannique!)

But I think you might be right: he also might realise that the chance of imprisoning the UK in a labyrinth of Red Tape for years to come was made far less likely. Let us hope so!

Mish
Mish

Editor

"The last thing Macron wants is the UK remaining and blocking his eurofederalist agenda. France would survive a no-deal far better than Germany, and Germany is effectively leaderless at present - an ideal time for Macron to galvanize the EU with his vision of a true political, economic and military union, a United States of Europe."

Bingo! Not a matter of trusting Macron. It is a matter of trusting Macron's agenda!