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Thursday 7 March 2019

The Euro-federalist conspiracy is alive and well and boldly stepping out into the open.

Dominic Grieve, a prominent member of the Euro-elite on this side of the Channel, will convene a meeting of senior French politicians in his office in Westminster this evening to discuss delaying this month’s exit deadline. Leading the French delegation will be Europe minister Nathalie Loiseau who succeeds in getting as many soundbites into the Brexit press as compatriot Michel Barnier and boss Emmanuel Macron, who last week said the Article 50 talks could be extended,  but only “if it was justified by a new choice of the British.”

According to the Telegraph, that justification looks set to be a second referendum. Mr Grieve has invited the French over because regardless of whether Parliament wants to delay negotiations or not – it most certainly does – the unanimous approval of the EU27 is needed. France is an influential player, and unlike Germany has laid down a condition of 21-month, plus the not-so-mysterious justification.

Chances are, the French will make promises to Grieve that he can use in Parliament to leverage votes in order to raise the chances of an extension, but only if a second referendum is on the table. He hardly needs them, the Commons is an overwhelmingly Pro-EU chamber.

The House Lords is worse. Yesterday, unelected peers passed an amendment to keep Britain in the Customs Union, attached to the Trade Bill, which sets out the terms for the United Kingdom’s future trade agreements, including re-aligning the EU’s current deals with third countries. Given how clumsy the Lords’ latest meddling amendment is, the Commons should reject it.

That’s immaterial however as Tory MP Nick Boles is stepping up his Customs Union plus Single Market hijacking of Brexit amid rumours May will lose the second meaningful vote by 100 votes. An improvement on 230, but still a crushing defeat.

“Oliver Letwin and I were happy to join Lucy Powell and Stephen Kinnock [Labour MPs] in this meeting with Jeremy Corbyn to discuss our Common Market 2.0 proposal,” said Boles.

“For months now we have been meeting with senior MPs from all parties in search of a cross-party Brexit compromise.”

The Cabinet is now resigned to a hammering on Tuesday, with one minister describing it as “certain”. Unsurprising, as May’s deal has not changed one iota even after being given instructions by Parliament to make “alternative arrangements”. BuzzFeed have the low down on the two inadequate ideas pitched by the attorney general – an infrastructure-only limit on the Irish backstop and the already well-known arbitration panel – that were both abruptly rejected by Brussels on Tuesday.

The BBC report May has been issued with a new timetable by Brussels. She is to make new proposals with a view to a crunch meeting with Jean-Claude Juncker on Monday to potentially sign them off, just a day before the meaningful vote, which gives Brexiteers in the Commons even less time to prepare their counter-arguments.

It’s a dirty trick. However, another massive defeat for the government beckons, ushering in an extension to the negotiations within the following 24 hours, no matter how well prepared the ERG is.