Brexit deal hopes rise after ‘last-minute compromises are made’

brexit countdown_bgCreated with Sketch.

The EU has sent Boris Johnson a blunt ultimatum that he must make more concessions to get a Brexit deal tonight – or face a delay.

The bloc’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier – seen as the biggest roadblock to a deal – laid out the choices in a private briefing for ministers. 

As frantic efforts continued to get an agreement over the line, he made clear there were only three outcomes – a deal tonight, a Brexit delay, or the total breakdown of talks. 

Meanwhile, French president Emmanuel Macron raised the prospect of an extension to the UK’s departure date in a phone call with Mr Johnson.

The wrangling comes as the EU heaps pressure on Mr Johnson to give ground in order to get a deal for the EU summit on Thursday. 

A Remainer law that obliges the PM to beg for a delay if there is No Deal by Saturday has given the bloc more leverage.

However, there is some evidence of a cracks emerging between the EU commission and member states, Last week Ireland breached the protocol that only Mr Barnier negotiates with the UK, after Leo Varadkar and Mr Johnson came up with a new new blueprint.

And Dublin has been striking a notably more positive tone than Mr Barnier about the prospects for a settlement, with deputy PM Simon Coveney today insisting it was ‘doable’ this week. 

Mr Barnier is seen as having taken a stubbornly legalistic approach throughout the talks, and is said to have briefed ministers that the latest plans put forward by the UK are ‘not enough’. The sticking point is understood to be the workability of customs proposals.  

Downing Street played down the idea of a hard deadline, saying they are working towards an agreement ‘as soon as possible’.  

French president Emmanuel Macron (pictured with Donald Tusk yesterday) raised the prospect of an extension to the UK's departure date in a phone call with Mr Johnson

French president Emmanuel Macron (pictured with Donald Tusk yesterday) raised the prospect of an extension to the UK's departure date in a phone call with Mr Johnson

French president Emmanuel Macron (pictured with Donald Tusk yesterday) raised the prospect of an extension to the UK’s departure date in a phone call with Mr Johnson

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson

Michel Barnier

Michel Barnier

Boris Johnson (left in Downing Street today) has postponed today’s Cabinet meeting as Brexit talks intensify. Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay is meeting Michel Barnier (right in Luxembourg this morning) later  

Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay appealed for ‘space’ as he arrived in Luxembourg today, adding: ‘A deal is still very possible.’

Maverick No10 strategist Dominic Cummings was in Downing Street today as the drama built

Maverick No10 strategist Dominic Cummings was in Downing Street today as the drama built

Maverick No10 strategist Dominic Cummings was in Downing Street today as the drama built 

The bitter wrangling comes after both sides fueled hopes of a breakthrough.

Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay made a surprise dash to Luxembourg for the meeting of ministers this morning, saying a deal was ‘very possible’.

Mr Johnson postponed a Cabinet meeting amid a final push – after DUP leader Arlene Foster came to Downing Street for 90 minutes of talks last night. 

The PM had a ‘constructive’ 20-minute call with Mr Macron. 

An aide to the French president told reporters there was ‘positive momentum’ behind the talks. He is said to have told Mr Johnson he was not keen on a delay, but raised the prospect of a ‘technical’ extension, potentially a few more weeks to finalise a deal.

That would be ferociously resisted by Mr Johnson as a breach of his ‘do or die’ vow, but could be unavoidable as MPs will force him to accept it.  

The Pound spiked on signs that the two sides are homing in on an agreement, with the UK putting put forward a new legal text designed to bridge the gap on customs checks. 

Earlier, Mr Barnier insisted completing the ‘difficult’ process was ‘possible’ this week.

What happens next in the Brexit crisis? 

Here is how the coming weeks could pan out: 

Today:  Michel Barnier and Steve Barclay meet other EU ministers in Luxembourg. Technical talks continue in Brussels. 

Tomorrow: The final deadline for having an agreement place for sign-off by EU leaders. 

Thursday-Friday: A crunch EU summit in Brussels. Any deal could be signed off by leaders here. If the talks have broken down, expect Boris Johnson to either boycott the event, or stage a dramatic walkout.

Saturday: Parliament will sit on Saturday for the first time since the Falklands War. 

If there is no Brexit deal by this date Remainer legislation obliges the PM to beg the EU for an extension to avoid No Deal. Mr Johnson is likely to force a vote to make MPs ‘own’ any delay, having said he would rather ‘die in a ditch’ than accept one.

If there is a deal in place, there will be a make-or-break vote on whether to back it. If passed by the Commons, the government will start rushing legislation through Parliament immediately.  

Monday: Jeremy Corbyn has said that he will let Mr Johnson trigger an election after an extension has been secured. 

This would probably be the first day when a motion can be brought to a vote under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, or a confidence vote can be held.

October 31: The current deadline for the UK to leave the EU, which Mr Johnson has previously described as ‘do or die’.  

Arriving to brief EU ministers in Luxembourg, he said: ‘Reaching an agreement is still possible. Obviously, any agreement must work for all, the whole of the UK and the whole of the EU. 

‘Let me add also that it is high time to turn good intentions in a legal text.’

Brexit Secretary Mr Barclay appealed for ‘space’, adding: ‘Detailed conversations are under way and a deal is still very possible.’   

However, Mr Barnier reportedly told ministers at a private meeting that time is short and the blueprint is not yet ready 

No10 was buoyed yesterday when Irish deputy PM Simon Coveney said an agreement was still ‘possible’ this week.

But Finnish PM Antti Rinne, who holds the rotating presidency of the EU, last night played down hopes of a breakthrough on the Irish border.

‘I think there is no time in a practical or legal way to find an agreement before the EU Council meeting,’ he said. ‘We need more time and we need to have negotiations after the meeting.’

Mr Johnson is anxious to get a deal agreed before Saturday, when legislation requiring him to seek another Brexit delay kicks in.

The PM has said he will lead Britain out of the EU on October 31 come what may. 

But any attempt to get around the law would lead to a clash with the courts and could spark a Cabinet walkout led by Attorney General Geoffrey Cox.

After the meeting in Luxembourg today, Mr Covenet said: ‘I don’t want to raise expectations about later on today or this evening but if there is going to be a positive report to EU leaders tomorrow in advance of an EU Summit, then clearly a big step forward needs to happen today to build on what has been slow but steady progress. 

‘We are not putting any deadlines on these discussions. It’s possible to move beyond the summit and continue talks next week.’ 

He added: ‘If the deal can’t be done today or tomorrow then the leaders will have to decide what kind of mandate they want to give Michel Barnier and the UK side will have to respond as well as to how to proceed.’ 

No10 poured cold water on the apparent deadline set by Mr Barnier for a legal text.

Asked if he recognises the deadline, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘We are working hard. The Prime Minister is aware of the time constraints that we are under. 

‘We want to make progress towards securing a deal as soon as possible and we want to make progress ahead of the EU council on Thursday.’

Mr Johnson told Mr Macron that UK officials would ‘continue to work hard’ on securing a Brexit deal, the spokesman said. 

‘The Prime Minister said that in advance of the EU council UK officials would continue to work hard on securing a deal,’ according to the spokesman. 

‘The PM and the president also expressed their deep concerns at the Turkish incursion and agreed to continue to stay in close contact.’ 

Belgian deputy prime minister Didier Reynders said: ‘We are in the last hours of real negotiation. 

Pound spikes on hopes Brexit deal is close 

Amid a frantic last push for an agreement, the Pound was near its peak since the summer against the US dollar, at over 1.28

Amid a frantic last push for an agreement, the Pound was near its peak since the summer against the US dollar, at over 1.28

Amid a frantic last push for an agreement, the Pound was near its peak since the summer against the US dollar, at over 1.28

The Pound was hovering at its highest levels for months this afternoon amid rising optimism over a Brexit deal.

Amid a frantic last push for an agreement, sterling was near its peak since the summer against the US dollar, at over 1.28 at 3pm.

Meanwhile, it was above 1.16 versus the euro – rates not seen since May.

Michel Barnier and Steve Barclay fuelled hopes that a Brexit deal is close this morning as they insisted it is ‘very possible’ to seal a package for a crunch EU summit this week.

‘I am hoping it is possible to have a deal, but we have a high level of solidarity with Ireland from the beginning and we are trying to protect the integrity of the internal market, the single market…

‘If we have an agreement tonight it will be possible to go to the Council and then again to the British parliament.

‘It’s not easy, we have some red lines. They are well known by all the partners, and I am hoping it will be possible today to make some progress.’ 

Angela Merkel said today that the EU would work ‘until the last minute’ to seal an agreement. 

In a speech to German industry, she added that the UK was going to be ‘another competitor on Europe’s doorstep and that will require the EU even more strongly to be competitive and to take geopolitical responsibility.’ 

In a fresh headache for the premier, Remainer MPs are demanding he agrees an extension even if a Brexit deal is sealed at the EU summit.

Former Cabinet minister David Gauke insisted today that a ‘technical’ extension will be needed as there is no time to ratify any agreement before October 31.

There are fears among some MPs that Eurosceptics will try a ‘double-cross’, by voting in favour of a deal – but then blocking the legislation to implement it.

That would satisfy the terms of the Benn Act, releasing the PM from the obligation to beg for a delay, and pave the way for No Deal at Halloween. 

But environment minister Zac Goldsmith flatly rejected the idea of a delay.

‘I don’t think an extension is necessary. If both sides wish to secure a deal, a deal can be secured,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today. 

‘It’s a matter of political will. Where there’s a will there is a way, and that has never been more true than in the case of Brexit. 

‘And I think it is really important that we don’t continue to extend and extend and extend which is what we’ve been doing for the last few years, because there are issues of trust there.’ 

Mr Johnson was meeting Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg in Downing Street today

Mr Johnson was meeting Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg in Downing Street today

Mr Johnson was meeting Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg in Downing Street today

Downing Street has been tight-lipped about the latest compromise plans, which emerged from head-to-head talks between Mr Johnson and Irish premier Leo Varadkar last week.

What are the sticking points in the Brexit talks? 

Last week Boris Johnson and Leo Varadkar came up with the principles of a new blueprint that brought Brexit talks back from the dead.

However, while both sides are now entertaining the idea that a deal could be possible, significant sticking points remain. 

Customs checks: Mr Johnson’s proposed way forward is thought to involve Northern Ireland leaving the EU’s customs union along with the rest of the UK. 

However, the bloc’s tariffs would be collected on goods heading to the province from mainland Britain in a so-called ‘customs partnership’ so that they are all EU compliant when they arrive on the island of Ireland.

If those goods then stayed in Northern Ireland – and within the UK – then the business receiving them would be eligible for a rebate on the EU tariff charged.

The EU is concerned about the complexity of the plan, the potential for smuggling, and whether technology exists to implement it. 

Northern Irish Consent: The two sides are also thought to have come up with a democratic consent mechanism for Northern Ireland to give the assembly a say on what should happen with border arrangements in the future. 

However, they have hit problems on the technical feasibility of the proposals amid concerns that the offer made by the UK would effectively give the DUP a veto. 

A compromise is believed to be in the works but it is currently unclear exactly what it is. 

Fears PM’s plan is basically the same as one considered by Theresa May: The customs partnership model which Mr Johnson is believed to have offered the EU is broadly based on proposals previously explored by Mrs May. Those proposals were dismissed at the time as being too difficult to implement. 

There are also concerns that they will effectively mean Northern Ireland being treated differently to the rest of the UK – a red line for the DUP and hardline Brexiteers. 

But the decision to delay Cabinet increased speculation that a deal is close. 

A government source said: ‘There is a feeling there is no point holding a Cabinet meeting if the PM can’t brief ministers on the deal and that maybe things will look different in a day or two.’

Sources said the PM was considering a call to European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker today to help speed up the process.

As EU ministers met in Luxembourg, Mr Johnson’s Brexit ‘sherpa’ David Frost was starting another round of negotiations with the commission officials in Brussels.

Mr Coveney said yesterday it was still ‘possible’ to strike a Brexit deal by the end of the week. 

He also appeared to suggest that those briefing against Mr Johnson’s new proposal should stop. 

EU sources say the Republic of Ireland is very keen on Mr Johnson’s latest plan for breaking the border backstop deadlock.

But Mr Barnier previously trashed the plan, insisting it would be ‘very difficult’ to do a deal in time for Britain to leave on October 31.

Brussels sources last night denied divisions between EU capitals and Mr Barnier over his hardline stance, insisting he was not the ‘roadblock’ to a deal. 

Despite major concessions made by Mr Johnson, Mr Barnier told EU ambassadors on Sunday night that the UK’s proposals would cause ‘the unravelling of the EU’s customs code’, that they are ‘untested’ and could open up the single market to fraud.

Mr Johnson’s alternative for replacing the backstop is thought to be a dual customs arrangement which would see Northern Ireland subject to EU tariffs on goods, but de facto remain within the UK’s customs jurisdiction.

At the weekend, Jacob Rees-Mogg said he was ready to ‘eat my own words’ and back the ‘dual customs’ plan, which he previously opposed.

However, the Democratic Unionist Party continue to express doubts over the plan.

Arriving for a meeting of foreign ministers in Luxembourg yesterday, Mr Coveney said: ‘I think, as Leo Varadkar has said, a deal is possible and it’s possible this month, it may even be possible this week.

‘But we’re not there yet, and as Michel Barnier said yesterday there is still a lot of work to do, so I hope that we can make more progress today.’

The Pound was hovering at its highest levels for months today amid rising optimism.

Amid a frantic last push for an agreement, sterling was near its peak since the summer against the US dollar, at over 1.26.

Meanwhile, it was above 1.146 versus the euro – rates not seen since May. 

Ex-Tory Remainer rebels ‘will force Boris Johnson to seek a Brexit delay even if a Deal is PASSED by MPs at the weekend 

Remainer ex-Tories are planning to force Boris Johnson into seeking a delay to Brexit even if MPs pass a deal agreed with Brussels this weekend.

They are said to be concerned that hardline members of the European Research Group could double-cross the Government by backing a Withdrawal Agreement in a meaningful vote before later voting down the law to implement it.

They also don’t believe there is enough time left before the October 31 deadline to pass the laws required.

With the Benn Act rendered null and void if Mr Johnson gets a deal through Parliament by this Saturday they fear an accidental No Deal Brexit could happen.

They are planning to force an amendment to the deal that means it only comes into effect when the laws required are passed, the Times reported.

One of the MPs kicked out by Boris Johnson after they voted for the Benn Act, told the paper: ‘We’re wise to that (the risk of No Deal) and won’t let it happen. 

‘We will find a way of adjusting the [meaningful vote] motion, just in case, to make sure that Benn Act is still operational.’

Ex-justice secretary David Gauke warned against focusing too narrowly on sorting out the Northern Ireland part of the deal to the detriment of the rest of the UK

Ex-justice secretary David Gauke warned against focusing too narrowly on sorting out the Northern Ireland part of the deal to the detriment of the rest of the UK

Ex-justice secretary David Gauke warned against focusing too narrowly on sorting out the Northern Ireland part of the deal to the detriment of the rest of the UK

Ex-Tories are said to be concerned that the European Research Group  (Steve Baker and John Redwood pictured centre and right) could double-cross the Government

Ex-Tories are said to be concerned that the European Research Group  (Steve Baker and John Redwood pictured centre and right) could double-cross the Government

Ex-Tories are said to be concerned that the European Research Group  (Steve Baker and John Redwood pictured centre and right) could double-cross the Government

A ‘technical extension’ to Brexit has already been mooted in some quarters because of the complexity of getting any deal approved by the parliaments of the other 27 EU members states. 

Meanwhile one of the ex-Tory group, ex-justice secretary David Gauke, warned against focusing too narrowly on sorting out the Northern Ireland part of the deal to the detriment of the rest of the UK.

He told Sky: ‘Parliament will need to be reassured that we are not essentially left with something that is a deal in name only,’ he told Sky news. 

Michel Barnier fuelled hopes that a Brexit deal is close today as he insisted it is still ‘possible’ to seal a package for a crunch EU summit this week.

In his most optimistic comments for days, the bloc’s negotiator admitted the process was ‘more and more difficult’ but could be completed.

Arriving to brief EU ministers in Luxembourg, he said: ‘Reaching an agreement is still possible. Obviously, any agreement must work for all, the whole of the UK and the whole of the EU.

‘Let me add also that it is high time to turn good intentions in a legal text.’

Will the UK meet Michel Barnier’s midnight Brexit deal deadline? And what will happen if no agreement has been hammered out before a crunch EU summit starts on Thursday? 

Michel Barnier dramatically upped the stakes in the Brexit end game today as he set a midnight deadline for the EU and UK to have agreed a divorce deal.

EU leaders and Boris Johnson are due to meet in Luxembourg on Thursday for a crucial summit that will decide the future of Brexit. If they cannot agree a deal at the summit, the Prime Minister faces being forced by MPs to delay Brexit again.

Mr Barnier believes a blueprint must be agreed by close of play this evening if there is to be any chance of a deal being signed off by European leaders this week.

Downing Street has refused to sign up to the proposed cut-off point for a legal text to have been finalised before Luxembourg, as it said Britain would continue to work to get a deal done ‘as soon as possible’.

If no accord can be struck within the next 48 hours then the focus of that summit in Brussels – the final one scheduled before the October 31 divorce date – will shift to whether to offer the UK a delay.   

Below are all of the answers to all of the key questions as Brexit enters its most volatile phase yet.  

When does Michel Barnier believe a deal needs to be done?

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator has reportedly told the bloc’s 27 member states that the UK’s latest proposals are not up to scratch.

Three diplomatic sources said Mr Barnier believed a legal text on a proposed way forward would need to be agreed by the end of talks today for him to recommend that the summit of European leaders on Thursday and Friday consider rubberstamping a deal.

Should the midnight deadline not be met then Mr Barnier is likely to recommend that more talks with the UK are needed, taking the two sides beyond the crunch summit. 

That would likely mean the Brussels showdown focusing on whether to offer the UK a Brexit extension with more talks to follow in the run up to October 31. 

Michel Barnier, pictured shaking hands with Irish deputy PM Simon Coveney in Luxembourg today, has floated a new Brexit deadline

Michel Barnier, pictured shaking hands with Irish deputy PM Simon Coveney in Luxembourg today, has floated a new Brexit deadline

Michel Barnier, pictured shaking hands with Irish deputy PM Simon Coveney in Luxembourg today, has floated a new Brexit deadline

Mr Coveney told reporters today that 'it's difficult but possible to have a deal between the two negotiating teams this side of the leaders' summit'

Mr Coveney told reporters today that 'it's difficult but possible to have a deal between the two negotiating teams this side of the leaders' summit'

Mr Coveney told reporters today that ‘it’s difficult but possible to have a deal between the two negotiating teams this side of the leaders’ summit’

How has the UK responded to this new deadline? 

Downing Street has refused to commit to meeting it. The Prime Minister’s official spokesman would only say that the UK wants a deal to be done ‘as soon as possible’. 

Asked if he recognised Mr Barnier’s new cut-off point, the spokesman said: ‘We are working hard. The Prime Minister is aware of the time constraints that we are under.

‘We want to make progress towards securing a deal as soon as possible and we want to make progress ahead of the EU council on Thursday.’

Downing Street sources have previously hit out at ‘artificial deadlines’ set b by Brussels on the grounds that there is only one deadline that truly matters and that is the UK’s Halloween departure date. 

What is the mood surrounding the talks and how likely is a deal right now?

Both sides are still making plenty of positive noises about the prospects of a deal being done, if not this week then potentially by October 31. 

However, both sides are also cautious about being overly optimistic because there are still massive gaps that need to be bridged. 

Stephen Barclay, the Brexit Secretary, today made a last-minute trip to Luxembourg where EU ministers are meeting with Mr Barnier. 

Speaking when he arrived, Mr Barclay said that talks needed ‘space to proceed’. 

He said ‘detailed conversations are underway and a deal is still very possible’.

Ireland’s deputy PM Simon Coveney echoed a similar sentiment as he said today that he remains hopeful a Brexit deal can be reached before the crucial EU summit. 

Mr Coveney said: ‘I don’t think it’s inevitable that they can’t get a deal before the summit.

‘I think what Michel Barnier said today was very clear, that it’s difficult but possible to have a deal between the two negotiating teams this side of the leaders’ summit.’

However, Mr Coveney sounded a cautious note as he said ‘a lot of progress needs to be made today’. 

‘This isn’t a time for optimism or pessimism quite frankly, we need to deal with the facts as we see them,’ he added. 

What is Boris Johnson doing to get a deal? 

In terms of talks in Brussels, the PM is leaving things to his team of negotiators who have been trying to hammer out a way forward with their EU counterparts. 

But Mr Johnson has been pressing his fellow European leaders to help him get a divorce deal and deliver on his ‘do or die’ Brexit pledge. 

This morning he spoke to French President Emmanuel Macron for 20 minutes on the phone with Downing Street characterising the conversation as ‘constructive’ and a ‘good discussion’. 

More phone calls are expected. The PM has also tried to maximise the amount of time available for a deal to be done by postponing a meeting of the Cabinet. 

Mr Johnson had been due to meet with his top team of ministers this morning but that meeting has been moved to tomorrow so that the government can respond to any last minute progress – or lack thereof – before the summit on Thursday and Friday. 

Boris Johnson, pictured in Downing Street today, is adamant he will stick to his 'do or die' Brexit pledge

Boris Johnson, pictured in Downing Street today, is adamant he will stick to his 'do or die' Brexit pledge

Boris Johnson, pictured in Downing Street today, is adamant he will stick to his ‘do or die’ Brexit pledge

Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay appealed for ‘space’ as he arrived in Luxembourg today, adding: ‘A deal is still very possible.’

What exactly are the two sides talking about and what are the sticking points? 

Mr Johnson put forward a ‘final offer’ on how to replace the Irish border backstop earlier this month but the EU gave the proposals short shrift.

The PM is then believed to have compromised during a meeting with Leo Varadkar last week which resurrected the hopes of a deal being done. 

Neither side has said in public exactly what has been put on the table by the PM, or where the EU has said it could budge, but it is thought the PM has put forward a so-called ‘customs partnership’ proposal. 

There are two main sticking points: Customs checks and Northern Irish consent. 

Mr Johnson’s proposed way forward is thought to involve Northern Ireland leaving the EU’s customs union along with the rest of the UK. 

However, the bloc’s tariffs would be collected on goods heading to the province from mainland Britain so that they are all EU compliant when they arrive on the island of Ireland.

If those goods then stayed in Northern Ireland – and within the UK – then the business receiving them would be eligible for a rebate on the EU tariff charged.

With checks having been carried out in the Irish Sea at ports there would be no need for border checks at the land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic and goods could head south with no impediment.  

The EU is concerned about the complexity of the plan, the potential for smuggling, and whether technology exists to implement it. 

The other sticking point relates to how the Northern Ireland Assembly can be given a say on what should happen to the border arrangements in the future. 

The PM’s original plan to hold a vote every four years hit problems on the technical feasibility of the proposals amid concerns that it would effectively give the DUP a veto. 

A compromise is believed to be in the works but it is currently unclear exactly what it is.

Today it was claimed that Mr Johnson had compromised still further but both sides are keeping quiet and the details of any plan are only likely to be made public if and when a deal is finalised. 

If Mr Johnson waters down his plan will it still get through the House of Commons?

The PM’s original plans appeared to have the support of a majority of MPs. 

But the premier is believed to have moved closer to the EU during the talks that have followed which means there are now major question marks over whether that level of support remains. 

With no overall majority in parliament, Mr Johnson will be entirely reliant on the support from other parties, particularly his coalition partner the DUP, if his deal is to stand a chance.

The PM held talks with the DUP leadership on Monday in a bid to win them round.

The Northern Ireland unionist party is believed to have major concerns about the idea of a ‘customs partnership’ on the grounds it would see Ulster treated differently to the rest of the UK.

If Mr Johnson is unable to get the DUP on board with his deal then he will be in big trouble.

What will happen on Thursday and Friday? 

EU leaders will meet in Brussels for the final European Council summit scheduled before the Brexit deadline.

The summit has long been targeted as the moment when a divorce deal would be finalised but that remains hanging in the balance. 

If a deal is finalised in the next 48 hours then a deal could still be signed off by European leaders. 

But if talks fail to reach a resolution then the summit is expected to focus instead on whether to offer the UK a Brexit delay. 

If there is no agreement signed on Thursday or Friday could there still be a deal done before October 31?

Yes. It is possible and probably even likely that if progress is being made but no deal has been finalised by the summit that talks will continue in the days ahead in the hopes of a breakthrough before Halloween. 

However, time will get tight incredibly quickly. 

Drafting an agreement, translating it into the EU’s different languages, checking it for legal problems, holding votes in the Commons and the European Parliament will all have to take place before a deal is done.

Downing Street believes it is doable. But the closer to October 31 we get after the summit, the harder it will be to get a deal done. 

If an accord is in sight that could force the PM to accept a short technical extension beyond Halloween to get the deal over the line.  

If no agreement has been struck by the end of this week’s summit, both sides are believed to be open to holding a last minute emergency summit before October 31 to try one last time to agree a deal. 

What does all of this mean for ‘Super Saturday’? 

The government has left open the possibility of MPs sitting on Saturday to discuss the fallout from the EU summit. 

It would be the first Saturday sitting of Parliament since the Falklands War and while it is not guaranteed that it will go ahead, government sources said today that it is ‘much more likely than not’. 

If Mr Johnson has secured a deal with the EU at the summit then MPs will be asked to vote for it. 

If he doesn’t things could get a bit more complicated with a variety of potential outcomes in the mix. 

The PM could ask MPs to back a No Deal Brexit – a vote he would almost certainly lose.  

Regardless of if there is a deal to vote on MPs are expected to try to hijack proceedings to force a vote on holding a second referendum. 

How likely is it that the push for a second referendum will succeed? 

This is a tricky question to answer. It remains unclear whether there is a majority in the Commons in favour of a second public vote but it is thought many MPs are now moving towards that option. 

If there is a majority then it should be relatively straight forward for MPs to force a vote and win it.  

However, there is a potential stumbling block which could then arise. 

If MPs vote for a second referendum and then try to pass a law to make it happen they will also need to somehow pass a money resolution to allocate the cash needed to organise another national ballot. 

The difficulty for the rebels will be that it is only the government that can bring forward money resolutions. 

That means Remain-backing MPs will probably have to change the rules in the Commons if they are to get their way.

Will Jeremy Corbyn support a second referendum? 

Many people believe this will be the key to whether a push for a so-called ‘People’s Vote’ succeeds. 

Mr Corbyn is in favour of a second referendum taking place but only after a general election.

He is under pressure from his allies to change his stance and whip Labour MPs to vote for a second referendum. If he does then there could be a majority for the move. 

Jeremy Corbyn, pictured in parliament yesterday, wants a second referendum to be held after a general election but his allies want him to change his mind

Jeremy Corbyn, pictured in parliament yesterday, wants a second referendum to be held after a general election but his allies want him to change his mind

Jeremy Corbyn, pictured in parliament yesterday, wants a second referendum to be held after a general election but his allies want him to change his mind

What about the Benn Act? 

The anti-No Deal law passed by rebel MPs will loom large on ‘Super Saturday’ if Mr Johnson does not secure a deal at this week’s EU summit. 

The law states that if no deal is in place by October 19 then the PM must ask Brussels to delay the UK’s departure date to the end of January next year. 

Mr Johnson has said he will comply with the law but he has also repeatedly made clear to the EU that he does not want a Brexit delay. 

If MPs believe the PM has tried to frustrate the purpose of the law then the row is likely to end up in the courts. 

Will the UK leave the EU on October 31? 

Mr Johnson is adamant that he will stick to his ‘do or die’ promise to deliver Brexit by October 31 with or without a deal. 

But there are so many moving parts and unknowns that it is currently impossible to give a definitive answer. 

If the PM gets a deal with the EU this week then Brexit could and probably will happen on October 31. 

If he doesn’t and the EU offers an extension that the PM will be legally required under the Benn Act to accept then Brexit will almost certainly be delayed. 

If there is no deal and no extension offered then the deadline will be met.  

 

link

(Visited 4 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply