• Alexander Poran

Cross-Party Talks Begin on Breaking Brexit Impasse As New A50 Extension is Requested

This Week in Brexit:

Another week, another extension. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say the government was flailing around like Rocket Raccoon and War Machine were in the new Avengers: Endgame TV spot. Welcome to your Weekly Brexit Briefing, Britain, let me walk you through the drama behind the newly requested extension on Article 50 with both your favourite and my favourite thing: Avengers references. Let’s begin.

What Happened?

The week began on Monday with the scheduling of an emergency EU summit set for 10 April, just two days before the UK is set to crash out of the bloc with no deal. This was scheduled as May’s government reels from its third loss on the Withdrawal Agreement the previous Friday. The loss of this vote means that the UK has missed its deadline to leave on 22 May with a deal, and will leave with no-deal on 12 April, unless May asks for another extension. I swear, the EU grants extensions on this thing like there’s no tomorrow. I lost some of  my teeth in a hockey match back in December and requested an extension on coursework while I recovered, and my uni took WEEKS to grant that extension. I’m not bitter or anything, clearly. At the same time, Eight indicative votes are set to be voted on to find a possible alternative to May’s Withdrawal Agreement. This alternatives include anything and everything, such as a people’s vote, customs union, a second referendum no-deal Brexit, or giving control of the process to Captain America. What? It’s not like he could make any less progress than May.

Tuesday morning the birds were chirping Parliament’s favourite tune: utter failure. None of the eight options in the series of indicative votes the previous night reached a Parliamentary majority. The second failure of indicative votes ended with Downing Street regaining control of the process as it tries to find a new way to break the current Brexit impasse. If I were May, I would just hop into the Quantum Realm and find a time warp back a few years to give her some more time to find an alternative, but that’s just me. The PM reportedly could be planning to threaten other Tory MPs with a general election in order to get more support for her deal. That’s pretty gutsy to threaten them with an election, Madam Prime Minister, but if history has anything to say about leaders who threaten their governments to get what they want, I wouldn’t count on remaining in the job too long.

Wednesday saw a renewed hope for re-negotiations on the Withdrawal Agreement to continue, after May asked Corbyn to meet with her and work together to find a Brexit deal that both parties are happy with. Many have been calling for cross-party work on the Withdrawal Agreement from the start, because it affects the ENTIRE COUNTRY, but hey, better late than never right? May also announced her plan to officially ask the European Union for a longer extension on Article 50, ahead of the original leave date of 12 April. Both moves angered Tory Brexiteers (but when does May do something that doesn’t make them mad?) who believe that by inviting Corbyn to talks, May is putting the final agreements on Brexit in Labour’s hands. At the end of the day though, cross-party talks on the Withdrawal Agreement should be positive as both sides work together to find a positive solution. I mean, look what happened when the Avengers worked together with the Guardians of the Galaxy? Sure they lost and half the universe got decimated but that’s not the point.

Labour MP Yvette Cooper

Another bit a fresh air for Labour came on Thursday, as a proposed bill by Labour MP Yvette Cooper passed in the House of Commons by one vote, 312-311. Cooper’s bill was designed to prevent a no-deal Brexit (which has happened before) as well as force May to ask for an extension on Article 50 (which has also happened before and she said on Wednesday she was planning to request one anyway). In short, this bill was not anything new, but alas still a victory for Labour. The only new aspect enforced by this bill is that MPs now have control over the length of the extension requested by May. If May requests an extension for as far as 26 April, for example, MPs have the power to either shorten it or lengthen it. The Cooper Bill was the first bill since 1993 to tie and be broken by the House Speaker. This news came as talks between May’s team and Corbyn’s team finished for the day, with Corbyn himself citing that hardly any progress had been made. Don’t worry Jeremy, take your time. We’re only supposed to leave the block in a week with no deal.

The week ended with May getting herself into position to send a letter to EU Council President Donald Tusk, requesting a new extension to Article 50 which rumoured to be as far as 30 June. This would mean that the UK must take part in the European Parliamentary 2019 Elections at the end of May. The Prime Minister is also expected to request a ‘termination clause’ in the letter. In the event May and Corbyn agree on a deal, the termination clause would allow the UK to leave on 22 May with a deal instead of waiting until 30 June, thus taking part in the elections. I get you, Mrs. May, I don’t want to wait any longer for Avengers: Endgame either. Sorry Brexit, I meant Brexit.

That’s it for this week’s Brexit Briefing, Britain. The latest the UK is now scheduled to leave the European Union is 30 June. The earliest we will leave is 22 May with a deal, if May and Corbyn can come to an agreement by that point. And I am scheduled to freak the heck out when I watch Endgame, I’ve already bought my tickets. But yeah Brexit is important too I guess.

Brexit Glossary

Withdrawal Agreement: the more official term used to describe the deal Prime Minister Theresa May made and agreed with the European Union upon in November 2018.

‘No-Deal’ Brexit: a scenario in which the United Kingdom leaves the European Union without any trade agreement, is only subject to World Trade Organization (WTO) regulations.

22 May: the date in which the United Kingdom will leave the European Union if Theresa May’s Brexit deal is passed in the House of Commons.

12 April: the date in which the United Kingdom was supposed to leave the European Union if Theresa May’s Brexit deal failed to pass in the House of Commons.

People’s Vote: a British campaign group calling for a public vote on the final Brexit deal between the United Kingdom and the European Union

Customs Union: a group of states that have agreed to charge the same import duties as each other and usually to allow free trade between themselves.

Second referendum: Another referendum on whether the United Kingdom should leave or remain in the European Union.

Indicative Vote: an opportunity for MPs to vote on a series of options in a particular situation to establish whether any of them can command a majority in the House of Commons. As an expression of the House's will, it is not necessarily binding on the government.

Article 50: the article that the United Kingdom imposed when it made its sovereign decision to leave the European Union. This article gave the leave date a maximum of two years time from its imposition.

26 April: The worldwide release date of Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Endgame.

30 June: The new date in which the United Kingdom will leave the European Union should Theresa May’s request for an extension to Article 50 be accepted.

European Parliament 2019 Elections: the election in which new MEPs (members of European Parliament) are elected to represent each EU member state. This year’s election takes place 23-26 May.

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