Peter Foster @pmdfoster Europe Editor of the Daily Telegraph. Formerly based in Washington DC, Beijing and New Delhi. Opinions my own. Mar. 20, 2019 2 min read

Right #Brexit peeps, what is going on? What happens next?

Short answer is its all pretty fluid, but here's what I think I know after usual chats with both etc (1/thread)

May will ask for extension to June 30, per reports.

Less clear if she will also say UK prepared to 'no deal' on June 30. That might be a key omission to watch, on which more later.

So will the EU agree? /2

Not necessarily. As @adamfleming warned this AM - and later confirmed by @JunckerEU interview - EU may say a short extension is "conditional" on May passive her deal next week (presumed new vote Mon or Tues)

That would be a reason for a short extension/3

Otherwise leaders would have to extension on her say-so. And let's face it, she hasn't inpsired confidence of late.

So the EU could play it tough: if she gets the deal through, she gets the extension. If not, then not. /4

But that is a high-risk strategy on EU side that isn't prepared for a 'no deal' (who is?) and would leave tiny window in the event May fails to win MV3.

Even if she wins the timetable for a statutory instrument inserting new leave date is tight. /5

And if she loses in those circumstances, it gets even tighter.

May would need to go back to leaders and ask for the longer extension that sources told me an @JamedsCrisp6 that David Lidington was discussiong with ministers and officials before Cabinet shut him down. /6

Could she do this without splitting the party? Collapsing her government?

A General Election would be a reason for a longer extension; or to explore an new (Norway) option that had demonstrated support in the House via indicative votes. /7

But that really is what one Tory peer just describd to me as "squeaky bum time", and notwithstanding clear majority in House against a 'no deal' it will require some brave interventions to stop it happening. The 'accidental' no deal cannot be ruled out. /8

So isn't that a pretty risk move by EU27?

Yes, and it is still possible EU leaders will take a different route when they meet on Thursday and agree to Mrs May’s request for an extension to June 30.

French are pushing very hard line I hear, but Germans less so /9

They may attach a rider noting that the UK must have held European Parliamentary elections on May 23-26 if they want to have a longer extension in the future. /10

This would set an effective deadline of April 12 for the UK to decide if it wanted a long extension, or wanted to ‘crash out’ without a deal on June 30 /11

They could also, as @jamescrisp6 and I report, insert a ‘mea culpa’ clause making plain that failure to hold those elections would entirely be the decision of the UK, and if it led to a ‘no deal’ that would be the UK’s fault, not Europe’s. /12

Alternatively, the EU could not take that risk and simply offer Mrs May a much shorter extension to April 12 to either pass her deal, or choose to go for a longer extension (with above-noted conditions) if she fails. /13

You can follow @pmdfoster.


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