MEDIAWATCH: Britain’s Brexit turmoil

627Views 0Comments Posted 05/04/2019

 When will Britain leave the EU?  asks The Week as the  political shambles  continues to exasperate lawmakers, Brexitreers and Remainers  with no apparent end in sight,

Prime Minister Theresa May has written to the EU to ask for an extension to Article 50 in order to give the House of Commons time to pass her withdrawal agreement.

Currently, the UK is set to leave the bloc on April 12  without any arrangement with the EU, known as a no-deal Brexit. But even with days to go, an extension is still on the cards - but until when? Here are the main options for when Britain will leave the EU:

The prime minister has stated in a letter to President of the European Council Donald Tusk that the UK wants to push the leaving date back until  June in order to pass her bill, which has been voted down in Parliament three times.

Her letter proposes that if she manages to pass the bill soon enough, the UK “should be able to leave before European Parliamentary elections on May 23 ”, although the BBC says that the government will continue preparations for the UK to take part in the elections as a precaution.

It remains “up to the EU whether to grant an extension”, and May’s proposal is at odds with the one put forward by Tusk this morning, said  The Guardian on Friday.

Tusk proposed that the UK should be given a “flexible” extension to Article 50, ending on 29 March 2020 - a year to the day from the original leaving date - with an option to leave sooner if Parliament ratifies a deal in the meantime.

His plan, described as a “flextension”, would need to be agreed by EU leaders at a summit next week.

According to The Daily Telegraph, Tusk believes that a longer extension is the “only reasonable” solution to the current gridlock.

The paper suggests that the flextension has divided opinion in Brussels. For some, the plan is attractive because it “removes the prospect of a series of new cliff-edges and the annoyance of EU leaders having to reconvene at regular intervals to grant fresh extensions”.

But some - including French President Emmanuel Macron - will likely turn their nose up at the idea “since it drags out the Brexit process and continues to import uncertainty into the EU”.

Other options
If the current Brexit unrest in Westminster results in a general election UK, the EU could potentially offer an extension until  December 31 2019, as the bloc “believes that this would be the minimum amount of time that would be granted to ensure it was not being unduly disturbed again in the autumn as it is deciding top jobs and policy priorities”, says the Guardian.

The paper also lays out an unlikely extension scenario in which the EU adopts Macron’s offer of an unconditional extension until May 7 whether an agreement has been passed or not, allowing “a little breathing space” for the UK to crash out without a deal.

Alternatively, EU leaders “could be tempted to go very long indeed and impose an extension of just under two years”, says the Telegraph. A leave date of 31 December 2020 would coincide with the end of the Brexit transition period, when the current EU seven-year budget period will end, along with Britain's financial commitments to the bloc.

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