No-deal Brexit 'simply insane — European Union commissioner

Apr 10, 2019, 00:53
No-deal Brexit 'simply insane — European Union commissioner

On the eve of an emergency EU summit in Brussels, chief EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said the bloc was ready to grand a delay, but that the duration "has got to be in line with the objective of any such extension".

While the European Union is not ultimately expected to trigger such a potentially disorderly no-deal exit, diplomats said all options were on the table - from refusing a delay to granting May's request or pushing for a longer postponement.

European Union states will vote on the extension proposals at a summit on Wednesday.

This, he said, would avoid a rolling series of short extensions, which "would nearly certainly overshadow the business of the EU27 in the months ahead". The PM expressed her deep concern about the recent escalation and said it was important for the worldwide community to work together to bring an end to the violence.

Mr Tusk said granting the 30 June extension that Mrs May is seeking "would increase the risk of a rolling series of short extensions and emergency summits, creating new cliff-edge dates".

The EU Council President - who published his letter with a tweet stating "there are times when you need to give time time" - wrote: "We should treat the United Kingdom with the highest respect, as we want to remain friends and close partners, and as we will still need to agree on our future relations". "We are of course considering an extension, also a longer extension, but it must be linked to very strict criteria", he added, insisting that Britain can't speculate about not participating in the May 23-26 elections for the European Parliament.

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Theresa May will dash to Berlin tomorrow to persuade European Union leaders to grant a short extension to Article 50 while the government still wrangles with how to progress with Brexit.

Several EU diplomats said the 12-month extension proposed by European Council president Donald Tusk, who will chair the summit on Wednesday, was unlikely to fly and several member states had agreed with France it would be too long.

"We have the question what role Britain wants to play" if such an extension is granted, she said.

And they suspect Theresa May wants them to do her dirty work for her. May sent a letter to Tusk last week requesting a further extension of the Brexit period, until 30 June 2019.

So far, MPs have rejected the withdrawal agreement Theresa May reached with other European leaders a year ago.

One of most contentious parts of the plan is the Irish backstop - an insurance policy that aims to prevent the reinstatement of a hard border on the island of Ireland. Legislation offered by Members of Parliament (MPs) Yvette Cooper and Oliver Letwin (EU Withdrawal No. 5 Act) has now been passed into law; it requires the Prime Minister to pass a motion to extend Article 50 to a date specified in the bill.

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Labour business spokeswoman Rebecca Long-Bailey said there had not been "any fundamental shift. but we're hopeful that progress will be made".

He said May had not moved on any of her red lines "so far but we are trying to be as constructive as we can ..."

Further talks will be held on Thursday.

If Labour and the government can not agree on a way forward, Mrs May has promised to put a series of Brexit options to the Commons to vote on - with the government to be bound by the result.

In the first, Brexit will be delayed until May 22 if Mrs May manages to get a deal through the Commons by Friday, which is looking unlikely.

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