The European Union anticipates British Prime Minister Theresa May to demand a Brexit delay further 29th March after the split UK parliament rejected her divorce reached with the bloc for the second time on Tuesday.
Parliament is supposed to vote down a no-deal Brexit, even though this will have no legal force. On Thursday, it would be voting on whether to ask the EU for a delay to Brexit.
Any such postponement further March 29 – a date which May herself had set for leaving – would need to be acknowledged unanimously by the other 27 national EU leaders. They will debate the matter for the first time together at a summit in Brussels on 21st March.
To prepare, European Council President Donald Tusk would meet Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Friday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday, and Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar on Tuesday.
The bloc stated that Britain needs to make up its mind on how long an extension it wants and what the extension is for exactly.
Might be the least possible scenario at this stage as it might lead to an abrupt no-deal divorce on 29th March and the EU won’t want to take any blame for the following economic disruptions.
However, proponents of this path have seized control of the EU’s agenda and disturbed the bloc from tackling key challenges for long.
A delay of up to eight weeks has so far emerged as the most possible scenario, with a hard deadline around the EU-wide parliamentary elections scheduled on May 24-26.
European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker on Monday stated Britain needs to be left on May 23 at the latest, or else it would be under lawful obligation to arrange European Parliament elections on its soil.
Britain won’t want that and the bloc does not trust it would, possibly opening another legal battle between the two.
A complex option because it might open the way to legitimate challenges of the lawfulness of the European Parliament, or even the executive European Commission that the new chamber is scheduled to pick by the end of the year, after May’s European elections. However, it’s not ruled out totally either.
EU discussion of a long delay – through the rest of this year or even until the end of 2020 – was in part targeted at putting pressure on the rigid eurosceptics in May’s Conservative Party to support her deal, or danger Brexit potentially never getting materialized.
Advocates within the EU state that along extension could open the path to a second poll or a national election that could invert Brexit. Or it might give Britain time to change its mind on May’s discussion red lines and decide to look forward to a closer relationship with the EU after Brexit.