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Author: Tan KW   |   Latest post: Tue, 12 Nov 2019, 6:40 PM

 

France could veto a delay, Johnson tells Corbyn

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LONDON/BRUSSELS (Oct 23): Boris Johnson said French President Emmanuel Macron could veto another extension to the Brexit deadline, potentially forcing the U.K. out of the bloc with no deal in eight days’ time.
 
According to a spokesman for the U.K. opposition, Johnson made the remark during a private meeting with Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn, who raised doubts about the scenario.
 
Johnson is stuck and Brexit is in limbo. The prime minister held fruitless talks with Corbyn after failing to persuade Parliament to rush his Brexit deal into law. Now he must wait for the European Union to decide whether to agree to his reluctant request for a three-month delay. Donald Tusk is keen on pushing the deadline back to Jan 31, and EU ambassadors will meet later.
 
Key Developments:
 
    German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas hints a Brexit extension could come with conditions
    EU27 ambassadors meet to discuss U.K.’s request for a delay; a special leaders’ summit could be held on Oct 25 or Oct 28
    Opposition Labour Party willing to back election if risk of no-deal Brexit is removed
    Johnson insists he wants U.K. to leave on Oct. 31, but fails to reach deal with Corbyn on a new timetable ratify Brexit deal
 
Johnson Tells Merkel U.K. Should Leave Oct 31 (4:25 p.m.)
Boris Johnson spoke to German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday to reiterate his view that Brexit should not be delayed, according to the prime minister’s spokesman. The two leaders spoke for 10 minutes by phone, James Slack said, declining to say what Merkel told Johnson.
 
The prime minister’s view is that Brexit on Oct. 31 is still possible, Slack told reporters in London. He said Parliament has handed control of the next stage of the process to the European Union by voting down Johnson’s timetable to debate his Brexit bill.
 
In addition to calls with Merkel and EU Council President Donald Tusk (see 1:15 p.m.), Johnson spoke to his Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar on Tuesday night, Slack said.
 
EU Won’t Make Delay Decision Today: Officials (4 p.m.)
The European Union’s 27 remaining countries won’t decide on a Brexit delay when their ambassadors meet in Brussels later on Wednesday, two EU officials said.
 
European Council President Donald Tusk will probably make a decision on Friday — either on the length of the delay or, if there’s no consensus within the EU, to call a summit of leaders, the officials said.
 
Tusk is consulting heads of government in the bloc and the most likely option remains to extend until Jan 31 with the ability to leave earlier, according to the officials, who were speaking on condition of anonymity because the talks are private.
 
How Brexit Could Be Done by End-November: MPs (3:15 p.m.)
Boris Johnson could get Brexit done by the end of November if he were willing to negotiate a new legislative timetable, according to two pro-European Members of Parliament who were expelled from the Conservative Party by the premier for opposing his strategy.
 
Both MPs, who asked not to be named, said that six days of debate in the House of Commons would suffice, with a similar period in the House of Lords. Both also said they’d back an amendment to keep the U.K. in a customs union with the European Union — something Johnson opposes because it curtails Britain’s ability to strike its own trade deals.
 
These MPs are among the staunchest opponents of Johnson’s attempt to ram through the bill. Their proposal suggests Johnson may not have to wait too long to get his deal done, if he were willing to give MPs six days to debate it, instead of the three he originally offered.
 
Johnson Sees Possible France Veto: Labour (1:45 p.m.)
Boris Johnson told Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in their meeting Wednesday that French President Emmanuel Macron could veto a Brexit extension, and asked Corbyn how he would respond. Corbyn expressed his doubt about that scenario, according to a Labour Party spokesman.
 
Corbyn also reiterated to the prime minister that Labour would back a general election once the threat of a no-deal Brexit has been removed, the spokesman said.
 
Earlier, a spokesman for the prime minister said he didn’t expect further talks with Labour on a new timetable for the government’s Brexit bill, after Parliament rejected Johnson’s accelerated schedule on Tuesday (see 12 p.m.).
 
EU Leaders May Meet on Extension: Varadkar (1:35 p.m.)
EU heads of state may meet as soon as Friday to decide on the U.K.’s request for a Brexit extension until January, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said in Parliament in Dublin. The meeting may take place on Monday, if the leaders don’t all immediately agree to extend, he said.
 
The new withdrawal agreement negotiated by Boris Johnson will not be changed, Varadkar said, adding that even if the deal is approved, the transition period may need to be extended beyond the end of 2020.
 
Varadkar, who spoke to Johnson by phone on Tuesday night, said the U.K. leader was “very pleased” to have a won a vote on his deal in the London Parliament but “concerned” his timetable to get his plan approved had been defeated.
 
Tusk tells Johnson He’s Recommending Delay (1:15 p.m.)
European Council President Donald Tusk told Boris Johnson in a phone call that he will be recommending to the other 27 member states that they should grant the prime minister’s request for an extension.
 
“I gave reasons why I’m recommending the EU27 accept the U.K. request for an extension,” Tusk wrote on Twitter.
 
Johnson, who wrote to the EU to ask for a delay on Saturday evening after losing a vote in Parliament, told Tusk he “continues to believe that there should be no extension,” his spokesman James Slack told reporters in London. A further delay would not be in the interests of either side, Slack said.
 
EU Ambassadors to Discuss Extension (12:45 p.m.)
Ambassadors from the EU’s other 27 governments will meet in Brussels at 5:30 p.m. local time to discuss the U.K.’s request for a Brexit delay.
 
They can’t make the final decision — that will have to come from EU Council President Donald Tusk on behalf of all the leaders — but they will give a sense of what the EU’s response will be.
 
It could be that the decision is a formality, or Tusk will have to convene a summit. Oct 28 has been penciled in for that meeting, but most EU officials hope it won’t be necessary.
 
Johnson Still Wants Brexit on Oct 31 (12:40 p.m.)
Boris Johnson told Parliament he still wants to deliver Brexit by Oct 31, though he offered no path to achieving this goal.
 
Asked by former Tory Chancellor of the Exchequer Kenneth Clarke to set out a new compromise timetable to get his Brexit bill through Parliament, Johnson said it would depend on how the EU responds to the request for a Brexit delay that he sent to the bloc on Saturday night.
 
“I think it would be still very much in the best interests of this country and democracy to get Brexit done by Oct 31,” Johnson said.
 
Deal ‘a Great Advance,’ Johnson Says (12:15 p.m.)
Johnson defended his deal with the EU and urged the opposition to enable him to push it through Parliament.
 
“I believe the union is preserved and we are able to go forward together as one United Kingdom and do free trade deals that have been impossible under previous deals,” Johnson told MPs in the House of Commons. “This is a great advance for the whole of the U.K. and we intend to develop that with our friends in Northern Ireland.”
 
“I do think it’s a great shame the House willed the end but not the means” in Tuesday night’s votes, Johnson said. He urged Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn to “get Brexit done” and accused him of having “no other purpose in seeking to disrupt Brexit than seeking a second referendum.”
 
Johnson Meets Corbyn for Talks on Exit Law (12 p.m.)
The premier hosted his arch rival, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, for a discussion in Parliament aimed at seeing whether there is any hope of agreeing a new timetable for MPs to debate and scrutinize the Brexit deal.
 
Johnson was thwarted on Tuesday night when the House of Commons refused to allow him to rush his deal through Parliament and into law on a fast-track program. According to an official from Johnson’s Conservative party, Corbyn did not propose anything other than more delays and a referendum.
 
A Labour Party spokesman said: “Jeremy Corbyn reiterated Labour’s offer to the prime minister to agree a reasonable timetable to debate, scrutinize and amend the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, and restated that Labour will support a general election when the threat of a no-deal crash out is off the table.”
 
France Waits To See How Long U.K. Needs (11.55 a.m.)
France thinks the U.K. Parliament should be able to scrutinize the Brexit legislation in a matter of days and wants to wait for Johnson’s view on that before deciding how long to delay the exit date, according to a French official. The French believe a maximum of 15 days should be given, the official said, rather than the full three months to Jan 31 that Johnson reluctantly requested.
 
This contradicts the thinking in many European capitals, as suggested in a tweet last night by EU Council President Donald Tusk, that the EU should grant the U.K. a three-month delay, with the ability to end the extension early.
 
Government Wants New Timetable for Bill: Smith (11:45 a.m.)
Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith, also a former chief whip, suggested the government’s priority is to propose a new legislative timetable for the government’s Brexit bill after the House of Commons rejected an accelerated schedule on Tuesday.
 
Speaking to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, Smith said he hopes to get a so-called program motion “that is to the satisfaction of a majority of people in this House and resolve this situation.” He also said he thought last night’s votes were the “beginning of the end of this chapter.”
 
Nothing Agreed at Johnson-Corbyn Meeting: BBC (11:40 a.m.)
The BBC said “nothing was agreed” at the reported meeting between Boris Johnson and Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn (see 11:30 a.m.) on a new timetable for the prime minister’s Brexit bill.
 
Johnson, Corbyn Discuss New Timetable: Times (11:30 a.m.)
Boris Johnson and opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn are meeting to discuss a new timetable for the prime minister’s Brexit bill to be debated in the House of Commons, the Times newspaper reported on Twitter, without saying where it obtained the information.
 
Varadkar Backs Brexit Extension (11 a.m.)
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar appeared to back a flexible extension to the Brexit process, after speaking to European Council President Donald Tusk. Varadkar confirmed his support for a delay, while both men noted that it would still be possible for the U.K. to leave before Jan 31 if the withdrawal agreement is ratified before then, according to an Irish government statement.
 
Fundamental Changes Needed: DUP’s Wilson (10:50 a.m.)
Sammy Wilson, Brexit spokesman for the Democratic Unionist Party, reiterated that his party would not support the withdrawal agreement in it’s current form, calling parts of it “unpalatable and unacceptable.”
 
Wilson told RTE radio he would use a Brexit extension to persuade the U.K. government “to change its position” on the deal which he said would change Northern Ireland’s constitutional position within the U.K.
 
“It’s very difficult to take at face value” assurances Johnson made in Parliament about light touch rules around movement between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, he said, adding his party would support a move by the prime minister to hold a general election.
 
Maas Indicates Delay May Come With Conditions (10 a.m.)
A Brexit extension to Jan 31 shouldn’t simply be given by the European Union, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Wednesday, raising the prospect it may come with conditions. “We have to know: What is the basis for it? What will happen by then? Will there be an election?” Maas said to broadcaster N-TV.
 
“Above all we have to know what the British are planning and what Johnson is planning. At the moment that’s once again completely unclear,” Maas said. A short extension of two or three weeks to get approval in Parliament, on the other hand, is “less of a problem.”
 
Labour Wants Election Once EU Sets Delay (9:45 a.m.)
Richard Burgon, Labour’s justice spokesman, said the main opposition party would back a general election as soon as the European Union agrees an extension, and as long as that extension is for more than just a few weeks.
 
Burgon also said Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s offer to work with the government to come up with a “reasonable” alternative timetable for scrutinizing the Brexit bill still stands.
 
“Until a general election is called we’ll carry on making that offer, to try and improve that bill to make it closer and closer to what we would call a credible Leave option,” he said.
 
Extension Needed to Break Impasse: Duncan-Smith (Earlier)
Iain Duncan Smith, a hard-line Brexiteer and former leader of the Conservative Party, said he’d rather have an election than extend the timetable for passing the Brexit bill.
 
If the EU grants a three month extension, then Parliament would take up all of that time and would hang amendments on it “like a Christmas tree,” he told Bloomberg TV.
 
 
 - Bloomberg
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