Monday, February 24, 2020

Time Running Out Before Brexit Delay Kicks In

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It’s time to take stick of Brexit with just about 10 days to go before Britain departs from the European Union.

Will the country slide out of the EU on March 29 without a deal?

Unlikely. The smart money is on the EU agreeing an extension on Article 50 to allow Westminster to agree a departure based on a modestly revised Withdrawal Agreement.

Brexit is now down to what Sir Alex Ferguson, the veteran football manager, calls squeaky bum time.

Far from playing a bad hand, UK Prime Minister Theresa May is manipulating both her rebel MPs and the EU.

Backbench fears

Even worse than her withdrawal agreement, her backbench Brexiteers fear two other concerns.

First, a vote of no-confidence in May springing the uncertainty of a general election where voters may whisk away their seats.

Secondly, a long Brexit delay that will add a year or even more to when Britain will leave the EU.

Add to that election fears in the EU.

The mandarins don’t want nationalism to sweep the EU parliamentary vote in May, plus what about Britain, which can’t take part in the elections as a non-member but cannot be excluded if still belonging to the bloc.

These facts will sharpen minds on both sides of The Channel as the deal becomes whatever the best outcome now will be compared to more uncertainty and squabbling over future months.

Meaningful votes

Every meaningful vote has seen a few more MPs side with May. She is still around 149 off winning through, but nevertheless, the number is whittling down.

Will Britain get a better deal from the EU? Probably not, as the leaders must show other countries with exit on their minds that the process is not easy.

The next step comes as May puts her broke deal back on the table for a third time.

Assuming another rejection by MPs, she will have to go cap in hand to Europe to ask for a delay in leaving to renegotiate the deal.

All 27 remaining EU members must agree to this and set a deadline.

Then she can start the whole process over, blaming EU intransigence and rebel MPs for the chaos.

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