Morning Briefing: We have an extension, let's not waste time - Brexit options must be viable - get ready for EU elections
It’s official: the new Brexit deadline is Halloween. That avoids a no-deal crash out on Friday. But more importantly it gives MPs plenty of time to scrutinise the different forms of Brexit which have emerged over the last weeks and months, potentially adapt them to make sure they're viable, and then agree a way to put the final decision on Brexit to the people.
After five hours of talks at the EU summit in Brussels, the other 27 EU leaders settled on a flexible extension to October 31, which the UK can cut short if a withdrawal agreement is ratified. This was despite Theresa May offering no new reason for a longer extension at the start of the evening. While an extension to prevent the immediate risk of crashing out with no deal tomorrow should be welcomed, without a plan to break the Brexit deadlock this could just open the door to more time wasting.
Remember, crashing out with no deal has simply been kicked down the road again. To prevent months more gridlock in Parliament MPs must listen to the words of Donald Tusk not to “waste this time". The extension must be used as an opportunity to scrutinise the alternative Brexit options, and ultimately to allow the people to have a final say.
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The solution to a crisis that has developed over three years cannot be rushed. During this extension MPs must find a solution that can command the confidence of both Parliament and the people. Once all the options have been explored, MPs will realise the only solution in the national interest is to put the decision to the people.
The prime minister hinted in her statement early this morning that she still wants to try and approve a deal and leave the EU earlier than the October deadline, saying she regrets that she has “not yet been able to persuade Parliament to approve a deal”. But there is no deal that honours the promises made in the 2016 referendum. MPs shouldn’t allow May to use the offer of leaving earlier to force through her broken deal.
MPs also have no idea who will be prime minister come October, with Tory MPs still pushing for May to go before the next conference season. Any deal that is voted through during this time would be a blindfold Brexit, as it is clear any new Brexiter prime minister could rip up the deal and push through a harder Brexit.
May also said in her statement that there still “isn’t a simple way to break the deadlock in Parliament” but that MPs have a duty to “move our country forward”. She is right that the country needs to move forward and tackle the other issues we face. But there is a way to break the deadlock in Parliament, by taking it out of the hands of politicians, and giving the final say to the people.
Quote of the Day
“Let me finish with a message to our British friends: This extension is as flexible as I expected, and a little bit shorter than I expected, but it's still enough to find the best possible solution.
“Please do not waste this time.”
Donald Tusk reveals the terms of the UK’s second Brexit extension at a press conference in the early hours of this morning.
Video of the Day
Simon Hart MP tells BBC Politics why a People’s Vote could become “the last game in town,” if there is a long extension to Brexit.
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Options MPs vote on must be viable
Talks between the government and Labour are also due to continue today. But there still doesn’t seem to be much hope of finding a consensus between the two parties. Brexit secretary Steve Barclay has said that if the talks fail they will try and find consensus in the Commons. The plan would be to again put a number of options to Parliament to try and determine a way out of the deadlock.
There is no point in having votes on ‘unicorn’ options and little reason to hold another round of votes when no consensus has emerged. It would be better for the Government and Opposition to put their efforts into agreeing a workable negotiated compromise. For instance an unspecific proposal of a customs union does not pass this test: this option in its current form is vague and would leave us still debating what it means for the future of our country. And those who were promised Brexit meant “taking back control” would object to a deal that means less control than we have now.
Nor is a People’s Vote is not another Brexit option: it is the solution to the Brexit crisis.
Tweet of the Day
We sent the EU leaders a message as they discussed the UK's future.
Video of the Day 2
WATCH: Brexiters are now claiming the vote in 2016 was for a 'no deal' crash-out. But that's not what they used to say...
Top Brexit comment
Rosie McKenna: On the 21st anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, the Brexit elite are putting my family's peace at risk (Independent)
Tom Kibasi: The EU’s new October extension finishes off May and her deal (Guardian)
Luke Lythgoe: Nick Ferrari makes killer case for slamming brakes on Brexit (InFacts)
Today, Thursday 11th April
|-||Theresa May to answer questions on Brexit extension in Commons|
|-||Cross-party talks between government and Labour resume|
|09.30||ONS: Foreign direct investment involving UK companies|
|09.30||ONS: Personal and economic well-being in UK|
|10.10||Attorney-general Geoffrey Cox takes questions in Commons|
Tomorrow, Friday 12th April
|-||House of Commons not sitting|