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Brexit: talks continue, results are lacking

Whilst the House of Commons is in recess until 23 April, Government officials have indicated that talks with the Labour Party will continue. The goal of the talks is to either find a compromise proposal on the post-Brexit relationship and put it to a vote in the House of Commons or, failing to do so, to agree on a short list of potential future relationship options. Jeremy Corbyn, leader of Labour, said this week: “There has to be access to European markets and above all there has to be a dynamic relationship to protect the conditions and rights that we’ve got for environment and consumer workplace rights.”  

In the meantime, the UK will prepare the upcoming EU elections, although Prime Minister Theresa May will try to avoid participation and will search for a deal that can be approved by the UK parliament in time. As the UK is likely to participate in the EU elections, Nigel Farage, ex-leader of the United Kingdom Independent Party (UKIP) and staunch Brexiteer, launched his new Brexit Party. He established a new party as the far-right movement took over his former party – UKIP. Farage believes he can win the European elections with his new party. Most recent polls put his party first with 27%. The Conservatives would only become third with 15%, behind Labour with 22% of the votes. The new European Parliament will sit for the first time on 2 July, with or without UK MEPs. 

During the European Parliament’s last plenary session before the elections, and in the presence of President of the European Council Donald Tusk and President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, the Members of Parliament discussed the new extension period granted to the UK. Tusk stated that this extra time was necessary to find an agreement and to really think through all options available. But he also said that during this period, the UK will be a full member of the Parliament, with all their rights and obligations. The European Parliament Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt told that a six-month extension to Article 50 is “too near for a substantial rethink of Brexit and at the same time too far away to prompt any action”. 

Next steps? 

The aim is for May and Corbyn to make an announcement on a compromise deal as soon as possible. However, the deadline of the EU elections is difficult to avoid as UK candidates must indicate before 25 April if they are going to run. In the meantime, there will also be local elections in England and Northern Ireland that possibly will increase the chaos even before the European elections on 23-26 May. Keep in mind that there is still the possibility for the UK to not participate in the EU elections, meaning the UK could still leave the EU on 1 June without a deal. In addition, The Telegraph reports that a number of Conservative Party chairmen are seeking to hold a vote of confidence in Prime Minister Theresa May, yet another attempt at bringing down the PM. So lets sit back and see what happens again between now and 31 October…