What can the UK do to prolong the deadline for Brexit. From my understanding the deadline is fixed by the EU and will not be extended.
But now they passed a vote to try to get more time, how do they think to manage this?
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The date on which the United Kingdom ceases to be a member state of the European Union can be extended, by a procedure described in section 3 of Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union:
- The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.
The negotiating period has already been extended twice, and lawfully can be extended again provided all EU member states agree.
We can speculate as to whether there will be a unanimous verdict to extend the period from the European Council. The current prevailing wisdom in the UK is that major political changes in the UK will be required for such an extension to be granted, as it is unlikely that all EU Member states will agree to an extension without there being a clear purpose for said extension, and a path forward to break the political deadlock in the UK (likely a referendum of general election). The more prevalent belief within the EU seems to be that an extension would be granted fairly easily without condition, to avoid the economic toll of an exit without any deal.
Jean-Claude Juncker has already said, months ago that the UK is heading for another extension, see https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/may/23/jean-claude-juncker-criticises-mps-prioritising-theresa-mays-removal-over-brexit
If the UK government asks for another extension, the EU isn't happy about it but they will grant it.
The UK Parliament is thinking of Jan 31st as the new end date, but the EU may have other ideas. In this case, Parliment could reject it see https://fullfact.org/europe/EU-cannot-unilaterally-extend-brexit-date/
The Benn-Burt Bill, works as follows (quoting from the Commons Library):
Hilary Benn, Alistair Burt and other MPs have published the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill. It is part of a legislative strategy to avoid (or at least to delay) the UK’s departure from the European Union in the absence of a ratified withdrawal agreement.
Regarding extension, the following is said:
The Bill is not the same as April’s Cooper-Letwin Bill. It goes further than that Bill in several key respects.
At first instance, clause 1 of the Bill gives the Government until Saturday 19 October to do either of two things. It could seek and secure the approval of MPs for either:
(a) a withdrawal agreement, or
(b) leaving the European Union without a withdrawal agreement
If by the end of 19 October the House of Commons has done neither of these things, the Prime Minister must then have sought from the European Council an extension of Article 50 for a further four months – until 31 January 2020.
If at any time after 19 October a withdrawal agreement is approved by the Commons, or the Commons decides the UK should leave without a deal, the Prime Minister can withdraw or modify his Article 50 extension request.
To summarise, it is merely an instruction from the UK Parliament to the UK PM to seek an extension (in case no withdrawal agreement is approved by MPs in the UK Parliament) from the European Council in accordance with Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union.
So this bill is an attempt to make sure the UK doesn't leave without a deal, either by having a deal approved or by seeking an extension. That is all the UK can do, but there had been hints that the UK PM would try to leave "come what may" by the current deadline, even without a deal.
The Guardian's Politics Live Blog often streams Brexit related debates and divisions that occur in the UK parliament. If you tune in to watch the exchanges in the late afternoon or early evening, you will quickly note that almost no one is ever bringing up the fact that the EU won't offer yet another extension. It is utterly disheartening to watch. It's as if they were living in some kind of fantasy bubble, blissfully unaware that an extension is not a given.
Not by a mile, in fact. On the contrary, the EU at this point has every reason to refuse extending UK membership beyond Oct 31. In no particular order:
There have been extensions already, and the current one was very hard to broker.
Rees-Mogg has openly suggested that Brexiters would try to sabotage the EU from within.
Farage and other Brexit Party MEPs demean the European Parliament.
In contrast with May who could be somewhat trusted to negotiate in good faith (she campaigned for Remain, in case it needs reminding), Johnson is a well known liar who led the Leave campaign and inspires no trust at all.
Although he stated that the EC was resigned to entertain yet another extension, Juncker also added that he was "fed up" with the whole thing.
The mood has shifted since, and the EC is now looking into unlocking funds meant to deal with emergencies (e.g. fires) so they're available on Oct 31.
Last but not least, further extension would mean the UK would get a new Commissioner at the new EC (which starts on Nov 1) and a say on the next (multiyear) EU budget. Methinks that is a big no no given the above.
In light of all of these points, I'm struggling to see the EU accepting a further Article 50 extension. It's just too risky. But who knows... There are only so many scenarios that can emerge from Westminster at the moment:
Johnson traps the opposition (unlikely IMO) into accepting a General Election (GE) before the next EU summit, possibly allies with Farage, and wins (likely IMO, because it'll be sold as Brexit or Corbyn). In this scenario it'll be May's deal or no deal IMO because the EU won't tolerate another round of this madness.
Johnson traps the opposition but then loses the GE (very unlikely IMO, see above). Some kind of Remain or People's Vote coalition forms, and a new PM goes to the summit. What happens next is anyone's guess, but I'd spitball that this is the only scenario where the EU might extend with some kind of enthusiasm, because it'll almost certainly end up meaning a soft Brexit or no Brexit.
Johnson goes to the EU summit with a GE date set before Oct 31 (unlikely IMO). What happens here also is anyone's guess. Personally I'd expect the EU to reject an extension and then organize an emergency summit after the GE provided it yields a new PM (see 2). Else see 1.
Johnson goes to the EU summit with a GE date already set shortly after Oct 31 (likely IMO). In this case I'd expect the EU to offer a very short extension to see who wins, with the scenario ending like 1 or 2 depending on who wins.
Johnson goes to the EU summit with no GE date set (very likely IMO). This will likely end up like 4 IMO, but there is also a possibility that it ends up like 1. The thing to note here is that, because Johnson lost his majority yesterday, so his days in office are numbered -- a simple vote of no confidence will force a new GE in no more than 14 days. I think this is what MPs are expecting will happen.
In case someone wants to bring it up in the comments, I can't imagine for a moment that Parliament would preemptively cancel article 50 before Oct 31 to avert a no deal outcome. It's simply not an option. Doing so would trigger serious public unrest, and the EU would only accept it if it's done in good faith -- it's not. (It would be after a People's vote or a GE that wipes out the Brexiters.)
On a lighter note, Pro Remain Brits will have a consolation prize: the Tory party will likely collapse in the aftermath of Brexit, and leave the door open for Labour, Greens, and Lib Dems to stay at the helm for a generation.
From my understanding the deadline is fixed by the EU and will not be extended.
They've already negotiated two extensions with the EU.
The first from 29 March 2019 to 12 April 2019. The second from 12 April 2019 to 31 October 2019.
It's not strange that they think they can negotiate another one.