Tomorrow is the “official” date of the vote in the House of Commons on Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal with the European Union for an orderly Brexit. (That’s if the PM doesn’t postpone it again.) Few observers see any chance of the deal being approved as it has virtually zero support in the liberal Labour Party and as many as 100 members from the DUP and May’s own Conservative Party (the Tories) have promised to vote against it. But now a new twist has entered this already tortured tale. Many of the MPs are suggesting that a vote might be held to push back the final Brexit date from March 29th to some as-yet-undetermined point in the future. And that has the EU Parliament very nervous for some reason. (Express.co.uk)
Brussels bosses are unprepared for the Brexit date to be put back if MPs vote against the Prime Minister’s withdrawal deal in the House of Commons on Tuesday. Behind the scenes EU institutions are scrambling around to prepare for the worst if the Article 50 negotiating period is extended to allow time for a UK general election or second referendum. A Brexit extension could cause a major headache for EU chiefs ahead of the European Parliament election in May and the next Parliament, which will be seated in July.
An EU spokesman admitted a Brexit extension could see British MEPs voting for the next European Commission president, to replace Jean-Claude Juncker, before “leaving some weeks later”.
A European Parliament spokesman described the situation as a “conundrum”.
We can take a peek behind the scenes to see what’s really going on here. The EU leaders are saying that it will cause “confusion” and require schedule changes if the Brits push back the Article 50 deadline. But would it really be that much of an issue? In reality, such a move would just maintain the status quo for a bit longer and perhaps require some meetings and the implementation of new legislation (which is already completed) to be delayed for a while. Not that big of a deal, really.
So what’s the actual concern? The next European Parliament elections are coming up in May, with the new Parliament being seated in July. If Brexit isn’t already a done deal by then, the Brits would be voting in those elections. Also, we’ve already seen polling indicating that Marine Le Pen’s decidedly anti-Euro party is solidly leading Emmanuel Macron’s supporters in France for the EU parliamentary elections. On top of that, Italy and most of the Eastern Block nations of the EU have gone in markedly divisive directions compared to the current makeup of the EU Parliament.
So what does that have to do with the Brits? If Brexit is delayed until after the new Parliament is seated, a significantly more Brexit-friendly environment could be taking hold of the EU’s governing body and Great Britain could wind up with a far more generous and advantageous Brexit deal that would pass the House of Commons easily.
If this strange turn of events comes to pass, the next question is who will be negotiating the deal. If tomorrow’s vote fails, leaders of the Labour Party have already stated an intent to call a vote of no confidence for Theresa May in the full House of Commons. If that succeeds, it would mean the installation of a new Prime Minister and the Tories might even lose their majority. Stay tuned. By the end of the week, things could get very interesting in merry old England.