, 9 tweets, 2 min read Read on Twitter
After a public shout out of “no way!” to renegotiating the #Brexjt backstop/withdrawal agreement, the EU now waits for the PM to come to Brussels 1
Parliament appeared to lob the ball back in the EU’s court last night, uniting(ish) around a request for alternatives to the backstop BUT the EU is preparing to chuck to ball back pronto, with the question to the PM: what alternative do you have worked out? 2
Expect the EU to stand firm for now and for some uncomfortable ‘negotiations’. Brussels deadline is 29 March whereas the PM has self-imposed a deadline of mid-Feb. The EU won’t rush to help her with that one 3
Resentment amongst senior EU figures that ‘all this is about appeasing the Conservative Party’: the referendum itself, the PM’s red #Brexit lines to leave CU and SM and now pushing for more on the divorce deal which her civil servants negotiated and which she had signed off on 4
The PM has spoken again of a time limit on the backstop/ unilateral exit mechanism for the UK. EU diplomats tell me she has to be more realistic. They don’t want to budge on core principles. Brussels intends to stonewall her until “the message is driven home” I’m told 5
But while publicly the EU is taking a hard line, privately it’s been doing some hard thinking. Brady amendment is pretty ambiguous. Talks about alternatives to the backstop. One thought is (when the EU decides time right to engage) to attach a list of alternatives to the text 6
This could include new technologies ERG so keen on. EU doesn’t believe they alone are enough but it could be placed on a list of potentials to be judged at later stage? Another idea is: take the UK wide customs aspects out of backstop, adding it to a list of ‘alternatives’ 7
PM also knows if withdrawal agreement is re-opened then that also re-opens the potential for EU leaders to bring up difficult issues for the UK again like fisheries policy and Gibraltar 8
If EU does indeed budge eventually over the backstop (and it will do absolute best to avoid that) then it won’t make things easy for the PM. Fingers are tightly crossed in Brussels that EU unity will hold during what promises to be a tough few weeks ahead 9
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