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From the UK House of Commons media feed (regarding a bill that would force the Prime Minister to request a further extension to the Brexit date from the EU):

MPs will now consider amendments to the bill.

It proposes requiring the prime minister to table a motion seeking MPs' approval for an extension to the Article 50 process beyond April 12 to a date of her choosing.

I.e. April 13th?

In other words, is there any provision in the bill that stipulates how long the requested extension would need to be?

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The bill as currently written can probably be circumvented in such ways as you propose; however, the bill is still powerful for several reasons. First off, if it passes, it would politically demonstrate the unity of a majority of the House of Commons for an extension.

In the past, when the House of Commons has clearly demonstrated a majority opinion, the Prime Minister (PM) has tended to honor such opinion. This is illustrated most clearly by the 13 March 2019 vote of the Commons to reject No Deal, the 14 March vote to support some kind of extension, and the PM's subsequent honoring of those votes by requesting an extension at the EU Council on 21 March.

Moreover, if the House of Commons demonstrated such a majority opinion, it would influence the subsequent willingness of the EU Council to accept a requested extension at their meeting on 10 April.

Furthermore, the bill allows two opportunities for the extension date proposed by the government to be changed: Subsection 1.5 allows the opportunity for the House of Commons to change the date by amending the motion at that time. Subsection 1.6 and 1.7 allow that if the EU Council rejects the proposed date and counteroffers a different date, then parliament would have the opportunity to accept the EU Council's counteroffered date.

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Can Theresa May easily circumvent the Yvette Cooper bill?

She can circumvent it, if the Withdrawal Agreement passes by then or some variation thereof with Labor's support at the last minute. Whether that will be easy is another story entirely...

The more likely scenario is she simply submits the request, but Juncker has already ruled out a short extension, as did some EU leaders (e.g. France). A long extension probably is out of the question at this point too, unless May pulls off a miracle and convinces the EU that she's onto something with material new developments (e.g. a People's Vote).

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The method you describe of extending to April 13th may not be possible as the EU controls the length of the extension now. She is obliged to agree an extension with the EU, and the EU can demand one for as long (or short) as it likes.

Since it is unlikely that the EU would allow a one day extension, and probably will insist on at least until 2020 now, this scheme is unlikely to work.

  • FYI Verhofstadt was dead clear he's against a long-term extension yesterday, and I honestly don't think he's the only one at this point (Macro in particular comes to mind) who is arguing that allowing a long extension would be too big a risk for EU institutions. – Denis de Bernardy Apr 4 at 8:53
  • @DenisdeBernardy strange choice of words, but what he seems to be saying in multiple speeches and tweets over time is that if there is an extension it's a serious thing and will require the UK to take some serious action to resolve brexit. No extensions just to dither a bit more. – user Apr 4 at 10:06
  • So, the EU could demand an extension to 2100, and the UK would have to accept? – Time4Tea Apr 4 at 10:38
  • @Time4Tea accept or crash out, yes. – user Apr 4 at 10:39
  • @Time4Tea Basically that was the risk the famous 'backstop' had built in. – Sjoerd Apr 4 at 17:54

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