Vulcan Insight

Brexit – so close yet so far

25 October 2019

Saturday’s special meeting of the UK Parliament resulted in Prime Minister Johnson having to reluctantly write to EU Council President Donald Tusk to seek an extension until January 31st 2020.  President Tusk has recommended that EU27 leaders grant the extension request. This is likely to be done by ordinary written procedure, without any additional European Council summit. After a meeting of EU diplomats in Brussels on Wednesday afternoon, officials have stated that there was general agreement to extend the date. Therefore, it is likely that the new deadline for Brexit will be January 31st 2020. However, resistance from President Macron – as was seen earlier this year – could throw a spanner in the works.

On Thursday, Johnson wrote to Jeremy Corbyn asking him to agree to an election on 12 December. If Labour agrees to this, Johnson has offered more parliamentary time – up to 6 November – for MPs to scrutinise his Brexit Bill. Johnson needs two thirds of MPs to vote for an election under the Fixed Term Parliament Act. Corbyn is making it clear he will not support an election until no-deal is taken off the table. Likewise, Brussels has been holding back on deciding on the extension to see how events in Westminster pan out.

Adding to the awkwardness of the prolonged Brexit process, European Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen has said that she will ask the UK to nominate a Commissioner if the deadline is extended beyond November 1st. Johnson has previously stated that he will not nominate a Commissioner.

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