BREXIT – How EU is preparing for different outcomes in Commons. If the withdrawal agreement is not approved, the extension will expire on 12 April

Cristiana Petrariu Bota
By Cristiana Petrariu Bota martie 27, 2019 17:15

BREXIT – How EU is preparing for different outcomes in Commons. If the withdrawal agreement is not approved, the extension will expire on 12 April

BREXIT – The government could make another attempt to win a majority for Theresa May’s Brexit deal on Friday. The choice of Friday 29 March is not an accident. Although no longer Brexit day, it remains an important day in the calendar, because of the two-step extension process imposed by the EU last week.

EU leaders agreed to grant the UK an extension until 22 May if the withdrawal agreement is approved by the House of Commons “by 29 March 2019 at the latest”. But if the withdrawal agreement is not approved, the extension will expire on 12 April, a UK domestic deadline for confirming British participation in the European elections.

The text of the EU’s legal decision states:

In the event that the withdrawal agreement is not approved by the House of Commons by 29 March 2019 at the latest, the period provided for in article 50(3) TEU is extended until 12 April 2019. In that event, the United Kingdom will indicate a way forward before 12 April 2019, for consideration by the European council.

Some EU sources suggest there could be some leniency on 29 March deadline. If, for example, MPs vote for the deal on 1 April. “The text of the legal decision says that we need to vote by Friday,” a senior EU source said. “Quite honestly I think that we will be lenient on that. The real question is whether we have clarity in the coming days, if this going to work or not.”

That remains unclear given the “volatile” nature of British politics that is changing day-by-day, the source said.

The EU has already penciled in a summit for a few days before the 12 April deadline, although it is impossible to say whether that summit will be for EU leaders to decide on a long extension or help them prepare for no-deal.

Last week’s meeting with Theresa May left EU leaders unconvinced that the deal would pass, but a positive meaningful vote three has not been completely ruled out.

Neither, however, has a major government crisis leading to new elections. Officials see two outcomes from a soft Brexit result of the indicative votes process. “It could mobilise forces for a slim majority for May’s deal, or we will have a serious government crisis which will probably lead to elections,” the EU source said.

In that case it would not be clear if the prime minister would be in a position to request an extension. Whatever happens in parliament, for the EU it is the government that counts. “Our interlocutor is not the Commons, our interlocutor is the UK government,” the EU source said.

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