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UK Exit from the EU Delayed

On March 13, 2019, the British MPs held a regular vote on Brexit; the majority of parliamentarians opposed leaving the EU without a deal. Since there is no exit deal which everyone finds satisfactory, the question of the postponement arises; however, it is not yet clear whether the British can agree and whether Brussels will agree too.

There is not any clear vision of the situation with Brexit. The reason is that with the UK leaving the EU, there are a lot of uncertainties for both the British and Europeans themselves, and it is very difficult to limit everything, according to some scenarios. It is possible and necessary to talk about these scenarios, but it is completely unclear how they can change or develop in the near future.

It is theoretically possible that the UK could withdraw from the EU without an agreement, but it is very difficult to imagine how this will look in practice. The reason is the following: initially it was assumed that after the conclusion of the deal, the UK would still have time, a transitional period lasting two whole years, to change its own legislation so that the Europeans could make changes to their documents and the parties could divorce peacefully. If we talk about a no-deal scenario, then there is no such time, no changes in the legislation. Therefore, it is not clear how many issues will be resolved. This will be a poorly managed chaos, although in principle the government could respond to potential emergency situations with direct decrees.

Plan A, Plan B, Brexit Plan and the Irish Backstop
Yelena Ananyeva
While the vote on the amendments did not close the Brexit debate, the media reported that the Tory Brexiteer and Remainer MPs reached an agreement known as the “Malthouse compromise” (named after Kit Malthouse).
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This is a very problematic option, which seems to be very painful both for the British and European economies. In the end, regulatory chaos will hasten the flight of investors from the UK, and everyone understands this well. Despite the fact that the British MPs voted against going ahead with Brexit without a deal, this does not mean that this scenario is impossible.

Another option that is currently being considered is a delayed Brexit. As for the legality of such a move, the rules outlining the process of leaving the European Union are written so vaguely that they can be interpreted in different ways, with a certain degree of flexibility. If all parties agree that the delay will be for 10 or 50 years - let it be. Therefore, the question arises - what will the postponement look like? The delay may last until the European Parliamentary elections in May, and it would be logical for the UK not to participate in them. However, since the UK is for the time being still an EU member, British citizens must participate in the elections to the European Parliament, they cannot sabotage them. Moreover, the British government may face lawsuits for a long time if it deprives citizens of their right to elect and be elected. If the UK leaves the EU in June, in July or even in a year, the big question still arises: how can this problem be solved with British legislators in the European Parliament? Will they first get a mandate, and then see it recalled? In this case, an additional agreement on the elections to the European Parliament and the participation or non-participation of the British in it is necessary, but so far this issue has remained suspended in the air. 

Perhaps a longer Brexit delay is the way out, which could in principle lead to a second referendum. The situation is really a stalemate, and if we talk about a referendum, then it may be not just a question of whether to leave the EU or remain in it, but a question about a specific deal - that is, whether the citizens support the existing document or the UK leaves without a deal. Since there was no such question posed during the first referendum and now there is an agreement, it is theoretically possible. 

On the other hand, a delay may be necessary in order to work out a new agreement with the European Union. This is what many British MPs would like. However, first, the European Commission isn't open to new negotiations: Jean-Claude Juncker has already said that there will be no third chance. Second, if the delay is granted and is long enough, the heads of the European Commission and the European Council will change, since Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk are finishing the last months of their terms. After that, some reset of the negotiation process is possible, but there is no certainty that everyone needs it, or that that all EU countries will want to re-enter the discussion with the British about Brexit issues. The new round of negotiations will be connected with some concessions to Great Britain, so that the United Kingdom will finally come out, after all, and Spain, for example, may well block them: there are long-standing Anglo-phobic sentiments, and recently Madrid grew a spine.

For its part, the EU in this case can actually do nothing. This is a sovereign affair for Great Britain, and at least until March 29, the British can do what they want. Then the question arises whether to give the British a delay or not. We can say one thing for sure: Europeans are preparing for a possible exit situation without a deal. This does not mean that everything will go exactly according to this option, but it must be also kept in mind. A situation of heightened uncertainty is also worth discussing, when scenarios can be easily combined with each other, develop separately or be mixed as the situation evolves. But on March 29, there will be no real exit of Britain from the EU.

Brexit Is Shaking the Very Foundations of UK Politics
Mary Dejevsky
Brexit has shown up the conflicts within UK democracy, as between direct and parliamentary democracy. It has exposed sharp differences in sentiment between the devolved regions that could lead, sooner or later, to the break-up of the UK.
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Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.