Brexit-Ticker

22.03.2019

EU heads of state and government agree on two scenarios for a postponement of the brexit

Yesterday evening, the leaders of the remaining 27 EU countries agreed to postpone Britain's withdrawal from the European Union. As EU Council President Donald Tusk announced after the end of the consultations, the heads of state and government agreed on "two scenarios". If the British House of Commons approves the resignation treaty between Great Britain and the European Union next week, Great Britain will be granted a postponement of the resignation until 22 May. If the House of Commons once again votes against the withdrawal agreement, a postponement will only be granted until 12 April.
In the opinion of the remaining 27 EU states, if the withdrawal agreement is rejected again by 12 April, the British government must also show how it envisages relations between Great Britain and the European Union in the future. This includes the question of whether Britain intends to participate in the elections to the European Parliament in May. According to the British Government, 12 April is the last possible day to prepare for the elections to the European Parliament. According to Tusk, Britain could be granted a longer transitional period if it took part in the European elections. Tusk once again mentioned the possibility for Great Britain to unilaterally withdraw its application for resignation under Article 50 of the EU Treaty.

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21.3.2019

Merkel: Possible postponement of Brexit if Lower House vote in favour of withdrawal agreement with EU

Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel announced in her government statement before the EU summit in Brussels that the EU states could "in principle comply" with the wish of British Prime Minister Theresa May to postpone Britain's withdrawal from the EU until 30 June 2019. Regarding the postponement date, she stressed that the European elections in May should not be disregarded. In this respect, "the future and legitimacy of the European elections" had to be taken into account. But a short extension could certainly be "positively talked about". A condition for such a postponement would be that the British House of Commons vote in favour of the withdrawal agreement with the EU. If there will be no positive vote, Merkel believes that another EU summit might be necessary.

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20.3.2019

Prime Minister May calls for Brexit postponement until the end of June - EU Commission considers postponement beyond 23 May to be legally uncertain

The UK has requested a deferral of the brexit, originally scheduled for 29 March, until 30 June 2019. Prime Minister May stated this in the House of Commons at noon today. She was not prepared to delay the Brexit beyond the end of June, May said. Otherwise, Britain would be obliged to participate in the European elections. This was neither in Britain's nor the EU's interest. It also continues to seek a third vote on the Brexit agreement. This had not been approved by John Bercow, the spokesman for the House of Commons, (ticker report of 19 March 2019) on the grounds that, for legal reasons, the same draft resolution could not be voted on twice within one session. May now wants to ask the European Council to approve the amendments she negotiated with Commission President Juncker last week. The draft resolution to be submitted to the Lower House could then be amended and submitted to the Lower House for a vote again, May said.

Shortly after receipt of the written request for postponement of the Brexit, Commission President Juncker informed the British Prime Minister in a telephone call that the EU Commission did not consider it possible to postpone the decision beyond 23 May. In view of the European elections to be held in May, such a postponement would be accompanied by "serious legal and political uncertainties" for the EU. The EU Commission fears, for example, that British citizens could sue if they were denied the right to vote in the European Parliament elections from 23 to 26 May 2019, even though Britain is still officially an EU member. However, the EU Commission considers a postponement until the end of the year or beyond to be legally possible.

Whether the postponement requested by May will take place is in any case to be decided not by the EU Commission, but by the heads of government of the remaining 27 EU states. These will meet tomorrow for a meeting of the European Council and will then decide on the UK's proposal.

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19.03.2018

Theresa May's defeat: John Bercow stops third Brexit vote

The speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, ruled out a third vote on Monday on an unchanged Brexit agreement. According to a 17th-century parliamentary agreement, a motion that has already been rejected should not be put to the vote again within one session.

At the moment there is uncertainty as to how the British Government will proceed. Brexit Minister Steve Barclay said that the government was closely examining Bercov's justification and seeking a solution. John Bercow himself has shown a possible way out: The government could ask Parliament to reconsider the rule that a motion of the same wording should not be voted on more than once during a session.

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18.03.2018

EU Commission submits proposals for date of withdrawal

According to a Room Document drawn up by the General Secretariat of the Council and distributed at a meeting of EU ambassadors in Brussels on Friday, the General Secretary of the Council has decided that the UK should either leave the EU by 1 July 2019 or participate in the European elections. The five-page document is a guide for the member states and makes proposals for the modalities of a possible postponement of the Brexit. If the UK were to request an extension of the withdrawal period, the EU states would have to decide (unanimously) at the forthcoming EU summit on Thursday and Friday in Brussels whether such a postponement should be granted at all and how long the deadline should be extended.

The paper makes it clear that the EU must ensure that "the institutions and processes of the EU are not blocked by the extension" in view of the European elections from 23 to 26 May. The newly elected Parliament is to meet again for the first time on 2 July. The Document Room therefore states that the extension should not be granted "beyond 1 July". If, on the other hand, the British were to apply for an extension beyond 1 July, they would also have to take part in the European elections. The paper rejected the idea, which was sometimes discussed, of an amendment to the EU Treaty with the content that exit countries would no longer have to take part in the European elections, pointing out that such an amendment to the Treaty would take too long.

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15.03.2019

British House of Commons in favour of Brexit postponement and third vote on Brexit agreement on 20.03.2019

The House of Commons has clearly voted in favour of a third vote on the Brexit agreement next Wednesday, 20 March 2019, with 412 votes in favour and 202 against. At the same time, it supports a postponement of the Brexit agreement planned for 29 March 2019, with the exact modalities of the postponement depending on next week's vote. In Prime Minister May's finally adopted motion, the House of Commons calls on the government to request a Brexit postponement to the EU until 30 June 2019, should the Brexit agreement find a majority next week. In this case, the postponement serves mainly the technical implementation of the agreement. If, on the other hand, the agreement is rejected, the government is to be instructed to request a postponement beyond 30 June 2019.

The EU Commission has already announced that it will inquire more precisely in London about the reasons for and duration of the extension. A request for postponement of the deadline by Great Britain must be approved by all other member states on the EU side.

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13.03.2019

British House of Commons rules out No-Deal-Brexit for the future

The British House of Commons voted 321 yes to 287 no in a non-binding vote against a No-Deal-Brexit for the future.

Previously, the government had suffered another defeat. Their request was simply to exclude a no-deal brexit by 29 March. Before the vote on this request, however, one amendment was successful, according to which the no-deal brexit would be excluded beyond 29 March. After this amendment had been successful - surprisingly for some - May reintroduced the group's pressure that had been lifted before Parliament's part-session. Nevertheless, many Tories - unlike May - voted in favour of the amended proposal.

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13.03.2019

Reactions to yesterday's vote in the House of Commons – preparing for “no-deal scenario”

The House of Commons’ rejection yesterday evening of the supplemented withdrawal agreement (see our last ticker message of 12 March 2019) has been received with great skepticism by representatives of European countries and the EU. Germany’s foreign minister Heiko Maas called the decision “negligent”, while economics minister Peter Altmaier and German EU commissioner Günther Oettinger are now expecting a postponement of Brexit and see this as a last chance for the British. EU Commission President Juncker and EU Council President Tusk regretted the decision, as did the French president’s office. Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, called on all concerned to prepare for a no-deal Brexit. UK’s former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, on the other hand, said he was expecting a deal “five minutes to midnight” so that the United Kingdom could still leave on 29 March.

The House is also being harshly criticised by the press. The Daily Mail referred to it as the “House of Fools”, while the Scotsman called the MPs “idiots in the House of Commons”, and the Daily Telegraph noted a “second humiliating defeat” for Mrs May. International reactions went into the same direction: Zurich-based daily Tages-Anzeiger referred to the “Brexit chaos” and a “foreseeable disaster”, while the Belgian De Standaard regards the behaviour of the “indecisive British” as a burden on future relations between the UK and the EU. The Austrian daily Standard concluded that the only chance left was to avoid chaos.

Although a clear majority is expected to vote against a no-deal withdrawal this evening, the British government presented measures this morning on how to deal with the customs issue in a no-deal scenario. Import duties for numerous goods will be abolished and a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland will be avoided until the UK and the EU have found a permanent solution to avoid a “hard border”. According to these plans, 82 per cent of all imports from the EU will continue to be imported into the UK without customs duties, while more goods supplied from EU countries will be exempted from customs duties. The proportion of duty-free imports is to rise from 80 to 87 per cent. The remaining 13 per cent of goods protected by duties will include meat and dairy products, motor vehicles (but not individual car parts), fuels and fertilisers. The government is considering a temporary system for a period of about 12 months to prevent price increases to the detriment of consumers and to secure the supply situation.

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12.03.2019

House of Commons votes against revised Brexit agreement

The House of Commons has just voted against the revised Brexit agreement. 391 MEPs voted against the treaty, 242 in favour. Only 41 MPs have changed their minds about the treaty compared to the vote in January - far from enough. Prime Minister May has to accept another heavy defeat, although yesterday evening she was able to obtain further concessions from the EU (see first ticker announcements of 12.03.2019). Following the vote, she announced that, as originally planned, she would vote tomorrow on a withdrawal without an agreement before a postponement of the Brexit is to be debated and voted on Thursday.

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12.03.2019

Parliamentary debate begins – great skepticism among Brexit hardliners and in the DUP

The debate on the withdrawal agreement, which was amended by supplementary declarations yesterday, has been in progress in the House of Commons since 2.00 p.m. Attorney General Geoffrey Cox has just made a statement. While he reiterated his concerns about the supplementary declarations he had made in his legal opinion this morning, he called on MPs to vote for the agreement. He said the EU's concessions reduced the risk of Britain permanently remaining tied to the “backstop” and that it was now time to vote for the deal.

Shortly before that, BBC reporter Laura Kuenssberg announced that the European Research Group, a Brexiteers faction within the Conservative Party, would vote against the agreement. Tory MP William Cash has now confirmed this, commenting that after a review carried out by the European Research Group the agreement could not be approved, as the concessions did not meet the requirements set by the government. The Financial Times reports that the Northern Ireland DUP is also likely to vote against the agreement.

Prime Minister May, on the other hand, said the meeting with Conservative MPs was “sufficient”. Cabinet minister Amber Rudd also expects May to win the vote in the Commons, even if not all MPs could be convinced by last night's additions.

Brexit minister Stephen Barclay said he believed Britain would have to postpone the withdrawal even if Parliament approved the agreement. This was for technical reasons, he said.

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12.03.2019

Statement by Attorney General Geoffrey Cox

A legal opinion prepared by Attorney General Geoffrey Cox has just been published, in which he expresses skepticism about the additions concerning the "backstop": While the commitments made would reduce the risk that Britain could be held indefinitely and against its will in the Customs Union, some risks remain. Previously Cox had described rumours spread on Twitter that the additional declaration had been made against his will as "nonsense".

Around 2 p.m. the debate in the British House of Commons about the withdrawal agreement begins. The decisive vote is scheduled for 20:00. Meanwhile, DUP MP Sammy Wilson and Jacob Rees-Mogg have called for a postponement of today's vote to give MEPs more time to reflect. However, government representatives reiterated that the vote would take place today.

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12.03.2019

May asks the EU to make further concessions - Vote open tonight in British House of Commons

During her "last-minute" meeting with EU Commission President Juncker yesterday evening in Strasbourg, Prime Minister May was able to persuade the EU to make further commitments to the "backstop" rule. May and Juncker agreed on two new documents in addition to the resignation treaty itself and the accompanying political declaration. In a document, the EU assures that it will not negotiate between Britain and the EU on a permanent basis with the aim of keeping the catch-all solution on Northern Ireland permanently in force. Otherwise, Britain would be entitled to take countermeasures. By the end of 2020, both sides want to agree on a permanent agreement on the Northern Ireland border. In a second document, both sides should commit themselves to improving and accelerating the forthcoming negotiation process. May's head of cabinet Lidington spoke of "legally binding" changes. Juncker spoke of "clarifications", "legal guarantees" and a "legally binding instrument" to the Brexit agreement. According to Junckers, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has already agreed to the concessions to Britain. The additional agreements are intended to make the "backstop" superfluous, according to which Britain would remain in a customs union with the EU if no other agreement on the Northern Ireland border is reached after a transitional period.

It remains to be seen whether yesterday's compromise will convince British MEPs. Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn has already called on MEPs to vote against the Brexit agreement. The Northern Irish Protestant party DUP, which supports May's government, was cautious in its initial reaction: "The documents need to be thoroughly examined. Rees-Mogg, parliamentary leader of the Brexit hardliners of the European Research Group, was also cautious. In particular, they would wait for Attorney General Geoffrey Cox's assessment and then decide.

Should the Brexit agreement meet with (renewed) rejection today despite the amendments, a vote on a withdrawal without an agreement will be taken on Wednesday as things stand at present. If this motion does not find a majority either, a postponement of the Brexit will be discussed on Thursday.

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11.03.2019

Rejection of Brexit agreement in House of Commons has become more likely

Despite further negotiations in Brussels last weekend, Prime Minister May was unable to achieve any results with regard to improving the already agreed agreement. May has also cancelled the signing of a paper which would have set out the compromise. Nevertheless, she has just arrived in Strasbourg for a "last-minute" meeting with Commission President Juncker.

In view of the fact that there have been no changes to the agreement so far, it is expected that the Brexit agreement will again meet with rejection on Wednesday (cf. our brief analysis in the ticker article of 26.02.2019). For example, two Brexit supporters had recently stated that they would refuse to approve an unchanged deal. According to the Times, May is being urged by the Brexit hardliners in her party to postpone the vote on Tuesday and present a new solution. According to reports, supporters of Brexit would instead like to vote on a desired version of the Brexit agreement to show the EU which version of Brexit the British Parliament would approve. However, the government has rejected this report as "speculation".

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7.03.2019

Still no breakthrough in Brexit negotiations

Following renewed negotiations between the chief European negotiator Michel Barnier, the British Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay and the attorney general Geoffrey Cox, there is still no agreement in sight on the controversial backstop solution for Northern Ireland. According to a spokesperson for the European Commission, “very difficult discussions” and “technical talks” were planned in the course of this week. Prior to this, Barnier’s statements in newspaper interviews that he was prepared to make further concessions to the United Kingdom had led to speculation that the withdrawal agreement negotiated by Prime Minister May would be able to clear the hurdle in the House of Commons as early as next week. However, Barnier also made it clear that neither the withdrawal agreement nor a legally binding time limit for the backstop solution would be up for discussion.

Referring to Barnier’s most recent discussions with Barclay and Cox, a spokesperson for the European Commission had promised “appropriate legal assurances”, according to which the backstop would not apply permanently. The specific issue here is an additional statement that should have “legal character”. There was also recent speculation as to whether an arbitral panel could be set up in the event of disputes regarding the backstop solition. This has not, however, been confirmed yet.

Even if the dispute on the backstop solution is settled, it is assumed in Brussels that the United Kingdom will apply for a deferral of Brexit.

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1.03.2019

House of Commons approves "3-step plan" by May

The House of Commons approved Prime Minister May's "3-step plan" in a session on Wednesday. Accordingly, the following three motions will be put to the vote the week after next in the order proposed by Prime Minister May: 1. a vote on the Brexit Agreement, 2. a vote on whether Great Britain should withdraw without a deal, 3. a vote on a postponement of the Brexit (see our ticker announcement of 26.02.2019 for details of the "3-step plan"). The amendment by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, in which he demands a customs union with the EU among other things, was rejected. He had previously announced that he would probably submit a proposal for a second EU referendum on 12 March if his proposal failed.

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27.02.2019

Merkel and Macron signal willingness to delay Brexit

Federal Chancellor Merkel and President Macron have announced at a meeting in Paris on Wednesday that they would give Britain more time for parliamentary decision-making if they received a request to do so. The aim continues to be an orderly withdrawal of Great Britain. At the same time they confirmed that the agreement negotiated with the EU should not be unraveled. Macron also pointed out that there must be a clear perspective for an extension and that it must be well-founded. He referred to a statement by EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier that it was time for the British to take a decision and expressed concern that postponement would not solve the problems. 

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26.02.2019

Prime Minister May intends to vote on Brexit postponement 

Prime Minister May presented her proposal for further action in a speech to the House of Commons. According to her plans, the Brexit Treaty is to be (re)voted on 12 March. Should the treaty be rejected, a further vote would be taken (again) on whether Britain should leave the EU without a deal. Subsequently, the government would like to have a vote on whether the Brexit should be postponed "for a short and limited period", whereby the duration of the postponement should be specified until 12 March. However, May has already indicated that a postponement is conceivable only until the end of June. A participation of Great Britain in the European elections is to be avoided.

Thus on 12 March variously scenarios are conceivable. In a first step, the House of Commons will again have the opportunity to position itself on the Brexit agreement. However, the legally binding part of the already negotiated treaty should remain unchanged, and May should at best be able to present an adaptation of the political declaration to the House of Commons. As things stand at present, it is extremely unlikely that the House of Commons will now accept the treaty, which has remained unchanged in essence and which it has already rejected. The following vote on leaving the House of Commons without a "deal" seems to have been proposed by May in order to reconfirm that the House of Commons rejects a "hard" Brexit. At the same time, the Brexit hardliners would be made aware - so probably May's calculation - that their desire for a "hard" Brexit in the event that a Brexit agreement is not reached is not capable of winning a majority. The House of Commons has already rejected a "hard" Brexit once with a broad majority, on 12 March the vote is unlikely to be any different. The vote would remain on a postponement, which would in all likelihood get a majority, since otherwise a "hard" Brexit threatens, which many MPs (both in the Conservative Party and in Labour) strictly oppose.

After May has tried for a long time to keep the Brexit hardliners of the so-called "European Research Group" happy in her party, she now seems to favour those who want to avoid a "hard" Brexit in any case. This grouping of the Tories has positioned itself more offensively in recent days. Initially, voices were heard from the party criticising the strong orientation towards the "European Research Group", which acts as a "party within the party". In a guest article for the "Daily Mail" on Saturday, Minister of Employment Amber Rudd, Minister of Economics Greg Clark and Minister of Justice David Gauke warned that a "no deal" could weaken national security, seriously damage the economy and lead to the collapse of the United Kingdom. Today the press reported that up to 15 Parliamentary State Secretaries would resign if there was no postponement of the resignation. The Prime Minister now appears to have bowed to this pressure.

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26.02.2019

Theresa May pushes back on extension of 2-year deadline

EU Council President Donald Tusk indicated at the EU-Arab League summit in Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt that both he and the other 27 Member States were open to Brexit being postponed, saying that it was a “rational solution”. This statement came after confidential talks between Tusk and Prime Minister May. Calls are also increasing from the ranks of the British government for an extension of the 2-year deadline in accordance with Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union to prevent a hard Brexit. The British business association CBI has also spoken out in favour of a deadline extension.

Prime Minister May, however, was quoted as saying that postponing the UK’s withdrawal from the EU would only defer the required decision on Brexit by the House of Commons, but would not otherwise change anything. The “Telegraph”, on the other hand, reported that Theresa May was indeed considering postponing the UK’s withdrawal from the EU by two months. Without citing any sources, the newspaper reported that the government had drafted proposals, based on which the British government could formally request a postponement.

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25.02.2019

Still no progress in negotiations

After their meeting of Wednesday evening in Brussels, UK Prime Minister and Commission President Juncker released a joint statement where they confirmed the common intentions to continue exploring alternative arrangements to the most contentious part of the Withdrawal Agreement: the Irish backstop, and in particular, legal assurance about its temporary nature. It seems that the Withdrawal Agreement agreed last November would not be reopened; in fact the statement focused on potential changes to the Political Declaration which accompanies the Agreement.

If that will be enough for the members of the House of Commons is not sure yet. The amendment approved few weeks ago said it clearly that changes needed to be done to the legally binding document itself in order for several MPs to vote in favour of the May Agreement, but the Political Declaration on the future relationship is not legally binding.

In fact, next appointment before the House of Commons is scheduled for 12 March. Originally, a vote was scheduled for this Wednesday (27 February), but this date cannot be kept due to the tough negotiations. If Prime Minister May failed to get a Withdrawal Agreement through the House of Commons, there could be a request for an extension of Article 50 in order to delay Brexit or even new general election.

May and Juncker will meet again before the end of the month. In the meanwhile, the European institutions are working on the Commission’s contingency proposals in case of a no-deal Brexit. Of the 19 legislative proposals tabled by the European Commission, 7 have already been adopted while discussions are still on-going on the remaining 12. It is important to mention that these proposals are limited in scope and temporary in nature.

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15.02.2019

Prime Minister once again loses vote

UK Prime Minister failed to win parliamentary support for her strategy: yesterday (Thursday) the House of Commons voted again against her Brexit deal. This vote is not legally binding but shows the divisions still inside the Conservative Party. While, the Labour Party called on the Prime Minister to rule out the prospect of a “no deal” Brexit.

Ms May is expected to meet the European Commission President Juncker next week. Also the leader of the Labour Party is due to travel to Brussels for a meeting with the EU negotiator, Michel Barnier.
It is not clear what kind of arguments the Prime Minister will use to break the impasse in the talks with the EU.

Next debate and vote on the Brexit strategy is foreseen for February 27th. For the moment, the only motion that the UK lawmakers backed last 29 January consists in reopening the negotiations with the EU on the Irish backstop.

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13.02.2019

May asks lawmakers for more time for negotiations

In her speech to the British parliament yesterday, PM Teresa May asked for more time to renegotiate the Brexit agreement with the EU. She said that changes to the backstop regime, strengthening workers' rights and environmental protection could facilitate an agreement that Parliament could support. Mrs May stressed that further rejection of a deal would increase the risk of a no-deal exit, making it a national interest to vote in favour of a proposed agreement. She said that in Northern Ireland in particular the rejection of the withdrawal agreement had made people very insecure. May told MPs that on Thursday she would inform them of the next steps and make progress by the end of February, which she would put to the House of Commons for a vote.

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11.02.2019

No progress in negotiations between EU and United Kingdom

Last Thursday, EU Commission President Juncker and British Prime Minister May met for further negotiations in Brussels but failed to make any substantial progress. Commission President Juncker underlined the EU’s position that the negotiated withdrawal agreement should not be reopened. He said they could at best work on the political declaration supplementing the agreement. However, both sides agreed to continue working jointly to find solutions, above all for the backstop provision which has met with disapproval in the British parliament, and to confer on the progress of the negotiations again before the end of February.

Before the talks between May and Juncker, the President of the European Council Tusk mused about a “special place in hell” for those promoting Brexit without even a sketch of a plan how to carry it out. The British leader of the opposition also gave Prime Minister May a special message for her trip to Brussels, saying that the Labour Party could consent to a deal if the UK stayed in a permanent customs union with the EU and remained tied to the EU internal market. May had already rejected this demand in a letter on Sunday.

This week, Prime Minister May will once again meet the Irish Prime Minister and representatives of the most important parties in Northern Ireland. But contrary to the original plans, there is apparently to be no vote on a “new” Brexit deal in the British House of Commons this Thursday. According to reports in the media, May intends to ask parliament for more time for further negotiations with the EU on Brexit. At the same time, she intends to make a statement in parliament on Tuesday about the current status of the negotiations. A government spokeswoman reported that a new vote is scheduled for 27 February.

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04.02.2019

Ireland rejects bilateral talks on border issues

As was announced today, the British Government has tried to start direct bilateral talks with the Irish Government on the border issue. However, according to Irish Finance Minister Pashal Donohoe, these advances have been rejected. At the same time, he was sceptical about the "technical" solutions which, according to the British Government, could avoid border controls in Ireland. On Wednesday, EU Council President Donald Tusk will coordinate further talks with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar.

Meanwhile, Chancellor Merkel stressed during her stay in Japan that an agreement was still possible. Both sides must listen to each other and be "creative". There are "certain possibilities" to preserve the unity of the internal market and at the same time to fulfil the "wish not to have any controls at the Irish border between Northern Ireland and Ireland", Merkel said, without explaining these possibilities more concretely.

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30.01.2019

Backstop renegotiation mandate, EU27 reject by return

Yesterday evening the British Parliament gave Prime Minister May a mandate to renegotiate the "Ireland question" with the EU. The British Parliament adopted an amendment to remove the controversial backstop guarantee for an open border between Ireland and Northern Ireland from the exit agreement with the EU. Previously, Prime Minister May had surprisingly backed this initiative in parliament. Moreover, only one other amendment found a majority which expresses the rejection of a withdrawal without an agreement. However, this declaration of intent is not binding. An amendment that would have made a chaotic Brexit more difficult by legally obliging the government to postpone the resignation was rejected. The same applies to a motion by opposition leader Corbyn that Parliament should consider alternatives such as a second referendum or remaining in the Customs Union in order to avoid a "hard" Brexit without agreement.

Theresa May now wants the EU to agree to an amendment to the agreement and to replace the backstop in a legally binding manner with alternatives that are not specified in more detail. In a first reaction directly after the debate in the House of Commons, however, representatives of the European Union reaffirmed that the withdrawal agreement should not be unraveled again. A spokesman for Council President Tusk referred to the clear decision of the EU summit in December. It is expected that the Commission will again comment on Brexit at a press conference this afternoon. The vote of the British Parliament increases the risk of a disorderly Brexit.

Should renegotiations fail, the British House of Commons will again debate the further course of action on 13 February.

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26.01.2019

UK Prime Minister and MPs seek for a way through the Brexit deadlock

UK Prime Minister and MPs will spend the weekend trying to seek a way through the Brexit deadlock. A plan B is needed by February 26 and for the moment there is no concrete alternatives to May’s deal. In fact, Prime Minister still hopes to secure a majority of MPs around a revised version of her deal.
In the meanwhile some companies confirmed that in case of a no-deal they will be forced to make some harmful decisions.

Next Tuesday evening MPs will debate and vote on a series of amendments put forward after the heavy defeat in the House of Commons of last week. Among them there is Cooper’s amendment which aims at avoiding a no-deal scenario and at creating time in the parliamentary calendar: in particular, the proposal would place a legal obligation on the Government to delay Article 50 in case a Brexit deal did not come out by February 26. The amendment has good chances of actually passing the Commons’s vote of Tuesday, also thanks to the support of the Labour party. 

From Brussels, both the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, and the European Parliament’s Brexit Steering Group stated that there can be no further negotiations on the current Withdrawal Agreement.
Theresa May will most likely return to Brussels after next Tuesday’s vote.

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23.01.2019

Prime Minister warns MEPs against further delaying the Brexit decision

After numerous amendments had been tabled yesterday, Prime Minister May today warned MEPs in a statement to the House of Commons against further delaying the Brexit decision. The decision on whether there should be a hard Brexit or not must be made urgently in the coming week. 

Meanwhile, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier has once again rejected a time limitation on the emergency regulation for Northern Ireland to save the Brexit deal. The question had already been sufficiently discussed. The negotiated Withdrawal Agreement was the only option.

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22.01.2019

Next Tuesdays vote on written summary of "Plan B"

Next Tuesday, members of the lower house of parliament will vote on the written summary of Prime Minister May's "Plan B", the so-called "neutral paper". It essentially summarises the position she has taken in the House of Commons (see our ticker message of 22.01.2019). The paper may not remain unchanged: Numerous amendments have already been tabled. These have the potential to give the House of Commons control over the Brexit process.

A joint motion by Labour MEPs and Conservatives to force May to request an extension of the deadline in Brussels is considered to be particularly promising - a no deal brexit would therefore be off the table for the time being. Observers assume that such a proposal could be supported by all political groups.

In addition, numerous other amendments have already been tabled, the chances of success of which are still open. A Labour Party motion seeks a vote on all the Brexit options, from remaining in the Customs Union to a new referendum. An amendment by the Conservative Party to vote on a second referendum has also been prepared but has not yet been tabled. The decision as to which amendments will be put to the vote is at the discretion of Lower House spokesman John Bercow.

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21.01.2019 

May's "Plan B" on how to proceed further

This afternoon, Prime Minister May presented her "Plan B" on how to proceed after the withdrawal agreement negotiated by her government with the EU was rejected by the House of Commons last week.

The Prime Minister's "Plan B" essentially provides that the government will continue to negotiate with all parties represented in the House of Commons with the aim of agreeing on a resignation plan capable of winning a majority. In particular, the highly controversial backstop regulation will continue to be discussed. The Prime Minister once again spoke out against a second referendum. May also again disapproved of an extension of the withdrawal period beyond 29 March. The Prime Minister also expressed the view that a no-deal brexit could not be ruled out in view of the situation.

The Prime Minister became more concrete with regard to the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, which is not to be touched. She also announced that the 65 pound fee for EU foreigners to reside in Britain after the Brexit would be abolished.

A spokesman for EU Council President Donald Tusk has already stated that the European Union rejects British Prime Minister Theresa May's new proposal for renegotiating the Brexit. The remaining 27 EU states had already declared in December that the withdrawal agreement negotiated with May could not be renegotiated.

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17.01.2019

May survives no-confidence vote

As expected, Theresa May survived yesterday’s no-confidence vote in the House of Commons and she immediately started cross-party talks in order to find a compromise agreement on a way forward.

The Prime Minister must return to the House of Commons next Monday (21.01.2019) with a new plan following the rejection of the Withdrawal Agreement by MPs.

A visit to Brussels is not expected before the end of next week, at the earliest. The hope is that she will be able to present to the Presidents of the European Commission and Council a new deal.

However great uncertainty remains to what will happen next: an extension of Article 50, a second referendum, a renegotiation of the Withdrawal Agreement, a no-deal …everything is still on the table.

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16.02.2019

Rejection of the Brexit deal

The House of Commons rejected the Brexit deal reached between the UK Prime Minister and the EU negotiator last November. Opposition parties, in primis the Labour and some members of the Conservative and the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Parties voted against the Withdrawal Agreement. Theresa May will face this evening a formal vote of no-confidence, and if she is defeated, there will be general election. However, the Conservative Party is expected to confirm the support to the Prime Minister in order to avoid snap election.

Since Theresa May must return to the House of Commons on Monday, in the coming days she will have talks in order to find a cross-party agreement on a way forward.  A softer Brexit, a Norway-style relationship or a second referendum have been mentioned by different political groups, but it is far from being clear what kind of compromise agreement she could reach in few days.

On the EU side, the Council President and Commission President urged the UK Government to state its intentions on next steps as soon as possible, while they confirmed that the EU’s process of ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement will continue. In fact, the option of further negotiations has been excluded by both, while a no-deal scenario is currently under consideration.

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15.01.2019

Decision on Withdrawal Agreement

Today the House of Commons will debate the draft Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration. The vote is expected at around 7 pm, London time. The Brexit deal is widely expected to be defeated.

In this case, the Prime Minister must return to the House of Commons within three sitting days with an alternative motion. However, what this alternative motion would look like is not clear yet.  

The Labour Party will most likely call for general election; while Theresa May will probably ask the EU an extension of Article 50 – which would require the unanimous consent of the remaining 27 EU Member States.

Yesterday there was an exchange of letters between Theresa May and the Presidents of the European Commission and Council. Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk offered reassurances about the Brexit deal, but they underlined that no changes to the text are possible.

The rumours that both parties are preparing for the UK withdrawal to be extended beyond the deadline, March 29, are becoming stronger.

On the contrary, if the House of Commons backs the deal, the file goes to the House of Lords, where there will be no vote but only a debate. Then the UK ratification process is complete.

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