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Monday 25 February 2019

Splashed across today’s papers is the revelation Theresa May is making plans to delay Brexit by up to two months after government documents outlining contingencies were leaked.

Having failed so far to draw any compromises out of Brussels the Prime Minister has also pushed the second meaningful vote as far back as possible. It is now scheduled for March 12, nine days prior to the last European Council summit before the current withdrawal date – May’s last opportunity to plead for an extension requiring unanimous consent from the EU27. If she fails to overturn her 230-vote loss from the first ballot in the Commons, she will ask the EU for an extension at the summit on 21 March.

No major surprise, but as recently as February 7 (see tweet above) May promised to deliver Brexit on time. She continues to insist the delay is not a tactic to eventually avoid Brexit, the clear motivation of Tory MPs like Nick Boles and Oliver Letwin who are supporting Labour MP Yvette Cooper’s delaying amendment coming up on Wednesday.

“Often people talk about the extension of Article 50 as if it will solve the issue – of course it won’t. It defers the point of decision,” said May, at the Egyptian resort of Sharm-El Sheikh, where she joined other EU leaders for this weekend’s EU-Arab summit.

In turn, European Council President, Donald Tusk has said he wants an extension of two years.

At the summit, Tusk also told Theresa May the EU will not shift until it knows the British Prime Minister can get a majority behind her deal, which doesn’t make any sense. Tusk knows May would be able to get her deal through the Commons if there was a time limit on the Irish backstop or a right to unilateral withdrawal, options he and other EU leaders have repeatedly stated are not available.

According to Politico, the EU may reconsider the Withdrawal Agreement if May can narrow her demands to a “single concrete proposal”, backed by Parliament. Again, ridiculous, the only thing the EU is willing to entertain at this present point in time is yet more waffley language about the backstop not being permanent, which couldn’t be less concrete.

Back in blighty, The European Delivery Group, which on Friday threatened to back the Cooper amendment if the government did not agree to a postponement – note, Conservative Home think the EDG are operating under Downing Street’s orders – have now issued their own amendment. Rather bizarrely, they are calling for the extension to continue no later than May 23rd. It would seem Conservative Home are onto something.

Meanwhile, the Mirror report that, having failed to get any improvements to the Withdrawal Agreement, the government intends to hold a “conditional vote” on Geoffrey Cox’s legal recommendations to restrain the backstop. Doing so would put the ball in the EU’s court, and finally, we’d stop being told the UK hasn’t said what it wants.

On the Deselection front, a motion in favour of withdrawing from the EU, even if it means no deal was passed at a meeting of the Conservative Party’s National Convention this weekend:

The National Convention supports the commitments the Prime Minister has made to the country to honour the European Union referendum result of 2016, that having triggered Article 50 we will leave the European Union on the 29 March 2019. Another referendum, a delay beyond the European elections, taking ‘no deal’ off the table or not leaving at all would betray the 2016 People’s Vote and damage democracy and our party for a generation.

The gathering marks the beginning of the Party’s AGM season. The roundabout way to call a motion of no confidence is through a dedicated special general meeting. An SGM is secured through a petition of 50 local activists or 10% of the local membership. A more efficient alternative is for a proposer and seconder to call the motion at an AGM. If you’re a member of the Conservative Party Member keen to get your anti-Brexit MP deselected, get in touch with us at info@leave.eu and we’ll assist you in any way we can with proposing your motion. Click here to learn more about our campaign.