EU's Verhofstadt: EU must increase pressure on Britain over Brexit

Posted March 17, 2019

Thursday 14 March, was due to be the vote on extending Article 50 beyond 29 March, but suddenly unexpected caveats divided this extension into short term and long term.

Philip Hammond's meeting with senior DUP figures raised speculation that more investment could be targeted at Northern Ireland, in addition to the £1 billion agreed when a confidence and supply agreement was signed in 2017.

A draft document discussed by ambassadors Friday opens the door to a long extension of membership beyond the March 29 exit day.

North Wiltshire MP James Gray appealed to fellow members of the hardline Brexit European Research Group (ERG) to get the "obnoxious" deal over the line.

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Mrs May has put forward two deals to Parliament, both of which have been rejected in an overwhelming majority. "What it does is precisely what the word delay says, it just delays the point in which we come to that decision", remarked May at a news conference. European Union leaders will be meeting in Brussels on March 21, which would be the moment to ask for an extension.

What happens now? May will seek another parliamentary vote next week.

But European Parliament Brexit co-ordinator Guy Verhofstadt questioned why the leaders of the 27 should grant an extension if Mrs May was "not ready for a cross-party approach to break the current deadlock" in the Commons.

But 17 Labour MPs defied party orders and voted to oppose another referendum - while 24 Labour MPs rebelled to vote in favor of one.

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Many Brexiteers fear the backstop, aimed at avoiding controls on the border between the British province of Northern Ireland and EU-member Ireland, will trap the United Kingdom in the EU's orbit indefinitely.

There has been skepticism and criticism of Corbyn's quick change as Conservative Party Chairman Brandon Lewis stated, "Once again, it's clear: Jeremy Corbyn is using Brexit to play his own political games". Not only do some high-profile Conservatives, including former cabinet minister Esther McVey, now support the deal but the DUP is said to be in "ongoing, significant" discussions with Downing Street.

Only a longer delay request that puts "something new on the table: a referendum, an election, some other deal" would be likely to gain European Union approval, Macron's office said. The official People's Vote campaign echoed Labour's reticence, saying in a statement: "We recognise there is a range of opinions on when to press the case for the public being given the final say, which means some of these MPs will vote for the Wollaston amendment, some may vote against, and some will abstain".

In a week of drama, MPs rejected her deal and voted to delay Brexit.

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May is expected to hold another Parliament vote on her Brexit deal before Wednesday.