Brexit Delay leads to irritation in the EU

For the umpteenth time in the Brexit dossier, the United Kingdom and the EU revolve around each other. This Friday, EU member states postponed a decision on postponing the Brexit date, pending more clarity about possible new elections in the UK.

In London, Lower House members are simultaneously waiting for a decision from Brussels on postponement. An unadulterated impasse, with movement at the earliest on Monday, when the House of Commons debates about the new elections.

It is now certain that the British will have extra time after 31 October. But how many, the Member States do not yet agree on that. The vast majority of the EU-27 wants to agree to three months, the time that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, last week, forced to do so by the House of Commons, asked Brussels. But France finds that deadline too long and argues for a short delay, just enough to still guide the Brexit legislation through the Lower House. A new deadline could then be in the second half of November.

That French position is not surprising: Emmanuel Macron was firmly opposed to delay this spring. In the meantime, his annoyance about dragging on the issue has only increased. Macron, who can be heard in Brussels, wants to help Johnson by putting pressure on the House of Commons with a short delay. The other member states, however, believe that the EU is so strongly involved in British politics.

This decision requires unanimity among Member States. The Member States will continue to talk in the coming days. A decision is also expected on Monday or Tuesday, depending on developments in London.

Meanwhile, a fierce battle rages between Johnson and Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn in London. The prime minister wants to hold a vote on Monday to force new elections on December 12. For that he needs a two-thirds majority – so also the support of the Socialists as the largest opposition party. Corbyn does not want to, because he first wants to be sure that the postponement by the EU is really complete.

Johnson is way ahead of the polls, Labor is about ten percentage points behind. Finance Minister Sajid Javid called the Lower House “a zombie parliament” in British media on Friday and suggested that the government go on strike if it cannot arrange new elections. That would mean that hardly any legislative proposals can be dealt with.

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