Update on February 8, 2019
A few facts:
- In exactly 49 days the UK will leave the European Union, if nothing else
is agreed. It happens on Friday, March 29, 2019
- The UK may abondon the Brexit operation by withdrawing the socalled art. 50 letter. The EU does not have to agree to it. If
it is the British government or it also needs the agreement of the British parliament is another matter.
- If the UK on the other hand wants to extend the deadline to leave the EU it requires
the agreement from each of the 27 EU governments and from the European Parliament. Such an agreement is probably not given without conditions.
- The negotiated Withdrawal Agreement
agreed between the EU and the British government in a legally binding 585 page withdrawal agreement was made on November 14, 2018. It is accompanied by a 26 page not legally binding statement on future relations.
- The EU has at a European Council on November 25, 2018 unanimously agreed to the Agreement and underlined that this is the best and only possible agreement. The British Parliament rejected the Agreement by a huge margin of 230 votes
on January 15, 2019.
- The UK Parliament on January 29 agreed with 317 votes against 301 to the Agreement ON THE CONDITION that its part on the backstop for the common border in Ireland was
removed and replaced by « alternative arrangements ».. This has been refused by unanimity in the EU.
Possible developments :
May held meetings with the EU leadership in Brussels on February 7 to try to have some legally binding changes. EU said once again that there is no way that the legally binding Withdrawal Agreement can be re-opened and re-negotiated. It is
finalised and closed when the EU is concerned. The UK might obtain some further clarifications in the non-binding paper on future relations. Talks start on that Monday, 11 February. But this is probably not enough to change the
majority in the UK Parliament.
- On Monday, February 4, a number of British Parliamentarians met Guy Verhofstadt from the European Parliament and Martin Selmayr, secretary-general of the Commission.
They were informed that no changes were possible.
- PM Theresa May has also started talks with the leader of the British opposition, leader of the Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn. Unlike May
it is a badly hidden fact that Corbyn has always been very critical and de facto is anti-EU. Therefore, he is not expected to accept either to abandon Brexit or to agree to a future close relationship to the EU ( such as Norway ). The question
is, if his overwhelmingly EU-positive Labour MPs will accept his line at the end of the process. He has in his first meeting with May suggested that the UK remains in EU’s Customs Union and also in part of the single market.
In addition he wants workers’ rights to be safeguarded in the new situation.
- Jeremy Corbyn has in addition on behalf of Labour by February 7 made a concrete proposal :
they will vote for a Brexit deal on the conditions that :
- A permanent and comprehensive UK-wide customs union will be in place
A close alignment with the EU single market and dynamic alignment of rights and protection for workers, so that UK standards do not fall behind those of the EU, will be ensured
in EU agencies and funding programmes must be included
- An agreement on security should also be made
- UK access to the European Arrest
Warrant has to be ensured
If PM May agrees to these proposals it will, of course, be a very new situation.
Mr. Tusk welcomed the proposals in his meeting with Mrs. May on Feb. 7. But
they will not be « the cup of tea » for the
- A new meeting between Mrs. May and Mr. Juncker will take place at the end of February. This means that no new vote in the House of Commons will take
place before that
- PM May’s plan might be to get the House of Commons vote delayed until as close to the March 29 deadline as possible. And that she in that last-minute vote will say
to Parliament that she has done all she could to get the EU to accept changes in the present Agreement. Therefore, the vote will be between :
to the Withdrawal Agreement of Nov. 14
- Or Yes to a British crash-out of the EU on March 29 without any agreement
With this strategy PM May will not have the risk to be voted down once again in
parliament, before it is too late.
- Neither PM May and her supporters nor Mr. Corbyn want a second referendum, if they by any means can avoid it.
- Many in the UK have warned strongly against leaving the EU without
any deal, not least the business community, but also Mr. Corbyn and many Conservative MPs too. At the same time concrete, practical preparations for a no-deal situation are on-going in all EU member states and in the UK.
- The Scottish government and the Welsh government have asked for a prolongation of the March 29 deadline to ensure more time to reach a deal. But the Mrs. May continues to insist that she « will deliver Brexit on time ».
- Important dates in the coming weeks and months :
March 21-22 : European Council in Brussels
March 25-28 :
European Parliament session
March 29 : The UK leaves the EU after 46 years of membership
April 3-4 : European Parliament
session ( first session without the UK )
April 15-18 : European Parliament session ( last session of this Parliament )
May 9 :
Informal European Council in Sibiu, Romania ( EU-27 )
May 23-26 : European elections in all 27 member states
July 2 : Inaugural
session of the new European Parliament
- Opinion polls in the UK : The average of the latest six polls about Brexit :
- The composition of the House of Commons after the June 2017 elections :
- Conservatives :
- Labour : 261 mandates
- SNP : 35 mandates ( Scotland )
- DUP : 10 mandates ( Northern Ireland )
Sinn Fein : 7 mandates ( Northern Ireland ). No MPs there
- Plaid Cymru :
4 mandates ( Wales )
- Greens : 1 mandate
NJT – 08 02 2019
Niels Jørgen Thøgersen - firstname.lastname@example.org
PS : The president of the European Council, Mr. Donald
Tusk, met the Irish prime minister in Brussels on February 6. After the meeting Mr. Tusk issued this statement about the situation:
Remarks by President Donald Tusk after his meeting
with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar:
There are 50 days left until the UK's exit from the European Union, following the decision and the will of the UK authorities. I know that still
a very great number of people in the UK, and on the continent, as well as in Ireland, wish for a reversal of this decision. I have always been with you, with all my heart. But the facts are unmistakable.
At the moment, the pro-Brexit stance of the UK Prime Minister, and the Leader of the Opposition, rules out this question. Today, there is no political force and no effective leadership for remain. I say this without satisfaction, but you can't argue with the
Today our most important task is to prevent a no deal scenario. I would, once again, like to stress that the position of the EU27 is clear, as expressed in the documents agreed with the UK government – that is
the Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration – and the EU27 is not making any new offer. Let me recall that the December European Council decided that the Withdrawal Agreement is not open for re-negotiation. I hope that tomorrow we will hear
from Prime Minister May a realistic suggestion on how to end the impasse, in which the process of the orderly withdrawal of the UK from the EU has found itself, following the latest votes in the House of Commons.
The top priority
for us, remains the issue of the border on the island of Ireland, and the guarantee to maintain the peace process in accordance with the Good Friday Agreement. There is no room for speculation here. The EU itself is first and foremost
a peace project. We will not gamble with peace; or put a sell-by date on reconciliation. And this is why we insist on the backstop. Give us a believable guarantee for peace in Northern Ireland, and the UK will leave the EU as a trusted
friend. I hope that the UK government will present ideas that will both respect this point of view and, at the same time, command a stable and clear majority in the House of Commons. I strongly believe that a common solution is possible, and I will do everything
in my power to find it.
A sense of responsibility also tells us to prepare for a possible fiasco. The Taoiseach and I have spoken about the necessary actions in case of no deal; I know that you will also be discussing this
shortly with the European Commission.
By the way, I've been wondering what that special place in hell looks like, for those who promoted Brexit, without even a sketch of a plan how to carry it out safely. Thank