, 13 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
Sooo...happy new year all. And back we are with more of the same. So here's a quick thread on this week's Brexit manoevrings:

1) The European Council on Dec 13 was pretty clear: clarification on the backstop, yes - but no legal instrument (Dublin was particularly against that)
2) Theresa May probably received some face to face nod from other EU leaders that there could be further assurances on the backstop, but nothing in writing. So when 2018 ended no meetings were envisaged, and nothing political or legal formally promised
3) There were phone calls in early New Year (May taling to Tusk, Juncker, Rutte etc) and official level contacts, but nothing of real substance appears to have emerged (there may also have been phone calls between @simoncoveney and David Lidington)
4) On the question of a letter from the European Council further clarifying the backstop and what temporary means, that appears to be in the mix, and it does in fact go beyond what was spelled out in the European Council A50 conclusions
5) But it has not been discussed among member states. I understand any preparation of a letter is being carried out by the European Commission (although there is plausible deniability at this stage).
6) Any letter - should it emerge later this week, or more likely right before next Tuesday's vote (so that it doesn't get trashed and rendered useless ahead of time) - will only clarify what has already been agreed. And it's still possible there will be no letter.
7) On the question of an extension of Article 50, my understanding is there has been no formal or informal approach by the UK to the EU. Officials from member states are discussing it, but they have obviously been "thinking" about it from a "what if" viewpoint for some time.
8) Indeed, a number of EU 27 leaders mused, both when Theresa May made her pitch on Dec 13 and in their private session afterwards, as to whether or not they should talk about what options, including an A50 extension, shd be on the table if the WA were voted down.
9) However, the consensus among EU 27 leaders was that it would not be appropriate at that time to be talking about an A50 extension.
10) In fact, on the EU side, there is more of an emphasis on pressing ahead with the ratification of the WA for three reasons - to signal to the European Parliament to begin its prep work, to show that it is sincere in getting the WA over the line, and to lock it down
11) Germany in particular is keen that the thing is locked down so it can't be reopened.
12) There is also no doubt that when they're thinking about a potential request by London to extend A50, member states will act in self interest. What will they get out of it? Will Spain push for something more on Gibraltar?
13) As per @simoncoveney in Dublin this morning, Ireland would support an extension of A50, but not if it's to chisel away at the backstop or to attempt to reopen the WA.
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