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Guy Verhofstadt Weighs In

Guy Verhofstadt is the European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator.

That's an opinion you can at least partially toss aside.

Q: Which part?

A: "European Parliament needs time to scrutinize in detail, especially concerning citizens rights."

That's a joke. The Withdrawal Agreement won't be changed again. Nor will the European Parliament veto it as it would immediately lead to No Deal.

Verhofstadt is a pompous ass to put things lightly.

Q: Which part is believable?

A: There will not be a long extension. By that I mean after Jan 31 which is what Tusk wants.

The European Parliament can reject or accept. That is it.

Overall Rating: Mostly Noise

Donald Tusk Weighs In

Tusk has always extension after extension, until the UK gets it right, which in his eyes is to remain.

Overall Rating: Total Noise

Johnson Phones Merkel

Guardian Live Comments

The Irish taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, and the European parliament’s president have backed Donald Tusk’s call to grant the UK government a Brexit delay up to 31 January 2020. Following a phone call between Tusk, the president of the European council, and Varadkar on Wednesday morning, the two men agreed the EU27 should agree to the request reluctantly tabled by Boris Johnson on Saturday.

Once again, any extension must be unanimous. These are views of two people, one has no vote.

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn met with Boris Johnson today, on an election timetable. As you might have expected, nothing was agreed upon.

Macron Holds the Key

"Gov't side predicted Macron would veto EU extension."

That I do not believe. But I do believe Macron may not accept anything but a short extension.

My Comments Yesterday

The key concept is that a delay until January solves nothing. In fact, it increases the odds of No Deal.

I believe Macron is aware of this. Tusk and Verhofstadt are oblivious.

Eurointelligence Weighs In This Morning

Watch out for Macron in the Brexit extension debate.

Among the sources we monitor we noted two reports from France suggesting that Brexit extension may not be as clear-cut as the news reports from Brussels suggest. One French commentator said that Emmanuel Macron was not happy with the three-month extension proposed by Donald Tusk. An AfP report quoted an unnamed French minister as saying that France would be happy with an extension of a few days only.

We do not want to arrive at any hard conclusions from these snippets of information. The European Council’s instinct is to extend and pretend. Macron might bow to the majority. Then again, the consensus view in Brussels generally fails to understand the French position. We recall how everybody was shocked by the French veto on the accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania. If you had followed the French debate more closely, you would have been less surprised. The Brexit debate also has a different quality in France.

So let’s look at the scenarios after last night’s two votes - one in favour of the agreed deal and one opposed to the timetabling motion. If the European Council goes for a three month extension - as officially requested by the UK - we have no doubt that Boris Johnson will pull the bill and try to organise elections. But this is not clear-cut either. Labour may stall. There is a lot of opposition within the Labour party. Then again, Jeremy Corbyn would look very weak if he tried to bottle out again, having promised that he would come out in favour of elections immediately after an extension. The Labour leadership also knows that the SNP wants elections. That means there is not much point in resisting the process, since a Tory/SNP majority could easily pass a separate election law to override the fixed-term parliament act. Such a bill would need passage in the House of Lords. It would be a longer process, with elections probably not happening this year.

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In the other scenario the European Council agrees only to a short extension, say a month, to force the House of Commons to accelerate its decision. We think this would be a reasonable compromise. The withdrawal bill is sufficiently complex to warrant more scrutiny than a mere three days. But the danger is that a long extension would give the UK parliament another opportunity to procrastinate.

Yesterday’s success at the second reading of the bill was important, but we should not take the bill’s ultimate passage for granted. Some Labour MPs in leave-vote seats have supported it so they can maintain their Brexit credentials. Some of them want a customs union, and might drop their support once it becomes clear that there is no majority.

The official position of the European Council is that they want to stay neutral, i.e. not get involved in the UK’s internal decision making. So the idea is to take the official request and simply accept it. An early break clause might be a compromise. But Macron could say that this was tried before, and failed. Why should it be different this time?

Same Page

Eurointelligence and I are clearly on the same page.

We have snippets from Tusk and Verhofstadt but all we have is snippets from the other side.

However, just because Tusk and Verhofstadt are clueless does not mean their position will lose.

The key point now is that a short extension or conditional extension is very much in play despite comments from Tusk and the European Council.

Whatever decision comes out on Friday, it will likely be "unanimous" no matter how much infighting there was to arrive at the decision.

Means to an Election

Johnson can request one. I expect it would be voted down.

He could pass a one-line bill demanding one. That would only take 50% and it would pass.

Eurointelligence commented "A Tory/SNP majority could easily pass a separate election law to override the fixed-term parliament act.

Yes, but.....

Why not age 12 with voting at school?

That's how far these jackasses will go to stop Brexit.

Clarification Delay Until Friday

The delay until Friday aids Johnson.

He may not accept or reject until Monday whether the extension is short or long. Then again, why then?


  1. Very Short: 10 days or less
  2. Short: 11 days to 3 weeks
  3. Intermediate: longer than 3 weeks but no longer than Jan 31.
  4. Long: Anything beyond Jan 31. That''s what Tusk wants.
  5. Flexible: Makes no sense UK will not do anything but delay. But I do not rule it out.
  6. Conditional: France demands a way forward such as elections.

Options 1-4 are mutually exclusive.

Options 5-6 are mutually exclusive.

Options 5 applies to options 1-4.

Option 6 applies to options 1-3. A way forward rules out a long extension and perhaps even an intermediate extension.

Running Out the Clock

The Benn Bill never stipulated a timeline in which Johnson had to accept. What if Johnson just runs out the clock?

What if Johnson files a legal challenge to Benn next week? On October 31.

I am not suggesting these things are likely.

Rather, I caution against foregone conclusions given all the twists and turns we have seen.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock