, 11 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
EU watching Westminster closely this week but not rushing to any
conclusions. Here is some of the key thinking in European capitals on
the main #Brexit issues of the day: /1
On Labour/second referendum: Corbyn seen in Europe as convinced
eurosceptic so EU is sceptical of his backing a second referendum. EU
has watched #Brexit turmoil long enough to see huge complications in
holding the vote and realise many leave voters have changed their
mind. /2
Of course EU would still rather UK stayed but Europe's leaders don't
see this as realistically on the cards right now. Most realistic,
considering turmoil in Westminster, says EU council President Tusk:
would be to extend article 50 leaving process. /3
On article 50 extension: if the extension went on long enough that it
lead UK to change its mind about leaving, the EU would be delighted
however much they dread the #Brexit process dragging on /4
But EU believes most likely scenario is that the UK will leave - so
leaders want Brexit to happen as soon as possible so they can focus on other pressing issues - incl thrashing out the post-Brexit-EU-UK trade deal. Something they can only do under EU law once UK has left club /5
EU and PM are on same side in preferring #Brexit on 29 March rather than extend but EU leaders would rather extend than face a no-deal Brexit. they're divided over how long to extend but want to avoid
rolling short extensions with ever-present threat of cliff-edge
Brexit. /6
On backstop changes: EU and PM still very divided. EU offering legally
binding assurances that stop short of changes. PM insisting on
concrete changes eg unilateral get-out clause for UK to persuade MPs
the backstop customs union wouldn't be permanent. /7
UK Attorney General is in Brussels again today. EU expected him to
present them with draft document on the backstop this week - a legally
binding "interpretative statement" - but diplomats tell me timings
seem to be shifting in UK again. /8
There's also scepticism in EU that what Brussels finds acceptable
in a backstop assurances text- eg an apparent end date that isn't
really one because it would end in a reviewal process rather than a
termination of backstop - wouldn't be acceptable to ‘enough’ harder-line MPs /9
Theory remains in EU that the PM is running down the clock while
attempting a high stakes game of 3-way #Brexit blackmail: pressuring
ERG with threat of no Brexit and using threat of no deal
to pressure both Labour for support and the EU for bigger backstop
concessions. /10
The PM would only need one of those three groups to blink to get her deal passed - so the theory goes. But I wouldn't bet on the EU
blinking first and Brussels is now wondering if - to a certain extent
at least - the process may be taken out of the PM's hands by
parliament /11
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