May Flys to Berlin and Paris Seeking a "Johnson-Proof" Article 50 Extension
On Friday, Labour accused Theresa May of failure to compromise in Brexit talks. Nonetheless, May is on her way today Flying to Berlin and Paris in Bid to Persuade the EU to Agree to Article 50 Extension.
Barnier says EU Happy to Offer UK a Customs Union
In Dublin, Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, says he hopes the government/Labour talks will produce a positive outcome. He says the political declaration can accommodate a range of outcomes, including a customs union. It could be changed to make this explicit very quickly, he says.
If the UK were to leave the EU with no deal, the EU would not discuss any future trade relationship without taking into account the Irish border issue and citizen’s rights.
Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, says he has spoken to Theresa May today. He says he wants to avoid a no-deal Brexit, but he also says the EU wants more assurances from the UK about an article 50 extension, including a promise relating to “sincere cooperation”. (That means the EU wants to know that May won’t follow Jacob Rees-Mogg’s advice and do her best to wreck the union from within if the UK is allowed to stay beyond Friday.)
The best way to understand what is happening right now is to look at the Brexit crisis from the perspective of Theresa May. Her party has failed to support her withdrawal agreement three times, and put her on notice that it wants a new leader and prime minister at some point this year. The success or failure of Brexit is the one and only policy for which May will be known after she leaves office. She hasn’t done much else in her time. So it should really not come as a surprise that she is now abandoning her party in pursuit of a deal with Jeremy Corbyn. And she is now framing the choice openly as a run-off between deal versus no-Brexit. In that framework, she may actually have an incentive to accept Donald Tusk’s offer of a long flexible extension.
Wolfgang Munchau writes in his FT column that the start of cross-party talks would constitute what EU leaders have described as a political way forward. He says that there is a good chance that the European Council will extend at its meeting on Wednesday, though Emmanuel Macron will push for hard conditionality. We think there are legal limits in respect of constraining a British prime minister’s voting right, but there is nothing to stop the European Council and May to reach a mutual understanding that the UK would not interfere in debates on the future of the EU. But such a deal would also tie the European Council much closer to May personally, as her successor could not be expected to abide by such an agreement. This is why Munchau argues that December should be the outer limit for an extension, as May will probably not be prime minister after that.
One of the issues in the discussions between May and Corbyn and their respective teams is how to make the deal Boris-proof as Labour calls it: to prevent it from being unravelled by Boris Johnson if he were to become May's successor. We are not sure that it is possible for one government to insure against the action of a successor, just as one parliament cannot bind the next. Politics won’t suddenly stop.
In his Monday column in the Daily Telegraph, Johnson raises one potential issue that might come to haunt May: what if Corbyn uses these talks only to split the Conservative, and then walks away? We think this is indeed possible, which is why we are treating this development as genuinely open-ended. And we don’t think that the hard Brexit is off-the-table either. There is no way that the House of Commons will revoke Brexit or organise a referendum while May is still prime minister. If nothing can be agreed now, the decision might well fall to her successor.
May Abandons Tories
As I wrote last week, Theresa May has abandoned her party.
She is unfit to be prime minister.
Last week I commented In Bed With Corbyn and Unfit to Lead: File a No Confidence Vote Now
The Tories definitely need to get rid of May before she does more damage.
It would be a hoot if she survived only because of overwhelming Labour support.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock