International

Third Brexit delay comes with conditions

French President Emmanuel Macron had been the main hurdle to giving Britain a Brexit extension, arguing there had to be a good reason for a delay and that the British needed to break their own political deadlock. But a source close to Mr. Macron said the prospect of an election in Britain had strengthened significantly.

 

The source stressed that the third Brexit delay would come with conditions, including a refusal to renegotiate the divorce agreement and giving a green light to other EU countries to meet without Britain to discuss the bloc’s future.

Britain’s departure has already been delayed twice — from March 29 and April 12 — after Mr. Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, failed three times to get her deal ratified by Parliament.

With British politics still paralysed over carrying out Brexit three-and-a-half years after a 52%-48% referendum vote in favour of leaving the EU, Mr. Johnson is demanding that Parliament approve an election on December 12 in return for more time to adopt his deal. But he needs the support of two-thirds, or 434, of the 650 lawmakers for a new election. A House of Commons vote was due later on Monday.

The EU is fatigued by Britain’s Brexit crisis but keen not to be held responsible for an economically tumultuous “no-deal” rupture.

French President Emmanuel Macron had been the main hurdle to an extension, arguing there had to be a good reason for a delay and that the British needed to break their own political deadlock. But a source close to Macron said the prospect of an election in Britain had strengthened significantly.

 

The source stressed that the third Brexit delay would come with conditions, including a refusal to renegotiate the divorce agreement and giving a green light to other EU countries to meet without Britain to discuss the bloc’s future.

An EU diplomat said the hope was that the British would use the postponement wisely. Even though the United Kingdom is set to leave, it will have a legal obligation to nominate a new commissioner for the EU’s powerful executive body.

The latest delay plan envisages that Britain could be out on Dec. 1 or Jan. 1 should parliament ratify the agreement in November or December respectively, according to diplomats who deal with Brexit in Brussels.

But in London, there was no consensus on an election which Johnson says is needed to break the deadlock.

Pressure on the opposition Labour Party to agree to a poll was increased by two other parties, the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party, which called for a Dec. 9 election on the condition that Johnson give up his attempt to push his deal through parliament.

Downing Street sources indicated that if their attempt on Monday to force an election failed, then the government could introduce a bill similar to the one proposed by the Liberal Democrats and Scottish National Party — a vote that would require only a simple majority in the 650-seat parliament.

Source: thehindu.com

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