, 20 tweets, 5 min read Read on Twitter
No10 says EU must decide if it will release a letter of assurances before the vote on Tuesday but EU sources tell me they are waiting for the go-ahead advice from Downing Street 1
The letter could have been released Saturday night ahead of No10 Sunday media blitz but wasn’t .. It could be released tonight or tomorrow ahead of vote .. OR EU/No10 may decide better not since 2
The EU letter will I’m told contain assurances/explanations of current deal and nothing new. The letter would come from Juncker/Tusk in Brussels and they can’t change the #Brexit deal without negotiation with and go ahead from 27 EU leaders 3
Letter could underline how no-one - neither the PM, not EU - wants to enter into backstop deal; that it is designed purely as a fall-back scenario and it is not designed to last; that both sides would be legally bound to make ‘best endevours’ to complete new trade deal asap BUT 4
No10 and EU aware these assurances prob/definitely not enough to swing vote on Tues. They hope it could help improve numbers but may ultimately decide that’s so unlikely at this stage, it’s better to hold fire for now 5
What will EU do if deal fails on Tues? Reason they’re being so tight-lipped is bc EU wants pressure on MPs to stop the chaos + to focus not on personal political ambitions /#Brexit theory: Noway/but rather on what the EU sees as reality ie the deal 6
It’s a sort of chicken/egg situation:Message from UK is perceived in EU as: “yes, we’re leaving and in a mess about it but you EU need to do something for us to help us move on” BUT EU thinks things have to change in UK before it makes a significant move 7
Sense in EU is that MPs need to either A) coalesce around something concrete so that PM can then say to Brussels: “If you re-negotiate X with us then I can guarantee that I’ll have enough MPs onboard to get this deal through OR 8
B) The PM’s red lines would change to -for example -say the UK would stay in a permanent customs union . The EU has always said their parameters would change if the UK’s did. This #Brexit deal (incl backstop) was negotiated on premise of UK leaving single mkt and customs union 9
Even if case is A) then EU would prob re-negotiate (even though says it won’t now) but ONLY when timing right for them ie when EU is persuaded that a particular (realistic in EU eyes) move wld definitely get the deal passed in UK. However 10
There’s no inkling of a sign that EU is prepared to give up the backstop. EU and UK both signed up to protecting Irish border but the current form of the backstop has evolved in negotiations. It could possibly eventually be tweaked if no deal staring all in face BUT 11
EU would only ever act with Dublin onboard and only -as I said- if Brussels believed a particular move would a) certainly get the deal passed in UK. We are far from having that kind of clarity in UK right now and 12
b) If the that particular move were deemed “worth it” from EU perspective ie if it got the deal passed so EU/UK could move on to trade talks (much more important phase in EU eyes) and end the Brexit uncertainty for EU citizens and business 13
EU also will take into account what moves it can “get away with” to the extent that it won’t appear that the UK did indeed have cake and eat it with Brexit and won’t serve to encourage other Eurosceptic nations 14
Remember EU does sometimes move even when it has insisted it won’t. Brussels insisted for a long time that UK-wide backstop was impossible .. until it became possible BUT that example has made EU jumpier than ever about timing and presentation because 15
UK-wide backstop came at UK behest - it was not an EU proposal -and a number of EU countries really don’t like it - and yet the UK wide backstop is now thrown back in EU face as if it were their trap to keep UK in customs union 16
But all this is hypothesising for further down the road. For now the EU will watch and wait for Tuesday vote and will then begin a conversation amongst its members as to what next 17
However there seems across board EU consensus that Article 50 won’t automatically be extended by EU. Only -as says one contact- if the extension serves to resolve this Brexit phase, not just to prolong it” 18
In conclusion: EU is pragmatic organisation and its members want to avoid no deal so there is more wiggle room than is being admitted right now BUT this does not mean EU will avoid a no deal #Brexit at any price. 19
Big problem is also that Theresa May doesn’t carry parliament with her. At beginning of #Brexit process a high level EU contact told me successful negotiations wld need EU unity on one side + on the other a UK PM strong enough to do a deal in Brussels and sell it back home.. 20
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