France throws a spanner in the Brexit works making an imminent general election likely

Emmanuel Macron and Boris Johnson
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France has thrown a spanner in the Brexit works that could make an imminent UK general election highly likely.

“We are not going to”

Asked on radio station Europe 1 whether the EU would allow an extension beyond 31 October, French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said:

We are not going to do this [extend the deadline] every three months

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This follows warnings that president Emmannuel Macron may well scupper another extension.

The news could fundamentally change events in Westminster. An opposition bill designed to prevent a no-deal Brexit is close to becoming law. The bill would effectively force Boris Johnson to ask for an extension should he not pass a withdrawal agreement before 19 October. The extension would be until 31 January 2019.

The law has been through both the Commons and the Lords and is due to receive Royal Assent, where it would become official, on 9 September.

But the legislation would rely on the unanimous support of the 27 other EU member states. Each nation has a veto, making the position of France highly significant. Without French support, the only way to stop Johnson carrying out no deal would be a vote of no confidence followed by a potential caretaker Jeremy Corbyn-led government and a general election.

On 2 August, a source did tell the Guardian that an extension was on the cards:

… probably [EU leaders] would be willing to accept a poor excuse [for delaying Brexit] if all the conditions are met.

But the new comments from France have cast doubt on that position.

“Very worrying”

Johnson appears to have no solution to the border in Ireland, which was the problem with Theresa May’s deal. The lack of progress is clearly having a knock on effect. The french foreign minister also said:

It’s very worrying. The British must tell us what they want

Former French ambassador to the EU Pierre Sellal has made similar warnings. Speaking to BBC Radio 4 on 6 September, Sellal said:

I believe that the situation has been deteriorating. It is very difficult to have the necessary trust that could justify a new examination of a new date.

The French could well have changed the Westminster Brexit game. That said, we cannot forget the other imminent problems facing Britain and the world.

Bring on a general election to prevent no-deal once and for all, end austerity and deliver a Green Industrial Revolution. Only an alternative government can achieve these critical aims.

Featured image via The Telegraph/ YouTube and Sky News Australia/ YouTube

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    1. Representatives of a joint Opposition temporary coalition should be sent to Brussels to begin unofficial discussion of means to delay, or implement on the surface only, ‘no-deal’ Brexit when Johnson has been ousted. This is a time for reflection rather than macho stances. Perhaps, such channels have already been opened.

      The tenor of official negotiations from the British side over Brexit has, from even before the referendum took place, been excessively combative: Trump’s ‘Art of the Deal’ rather than measured application of diplomatic skills refined over centuries in Britain and mainland Europe.

      The EU doesn’t want the UK to leave. A substantial proportion of the UK population either doesn’t wish to leave or desires amicable detachment from some EU institutions, possibly leading to arrangements like those with Norway and Switzerland. If either side is intent solely upon a short term advantageous ‘deal’, negotiations are merely crude haggling.

      Fully leaving the EU is, in effect, major constitutional change for the UK. Individual’s citizenship of the EU would be revoked along with a number of associated benefits, entitlements, and legal rights/protections. Trade and commerce will step off a precipice into the unknown. Cultural ties will be disrupted.

      From the British side ought be recognition of benefits from membership of the EU and desire to minimise adverse effects from withdrawal (to whatever degree). Whatever, the outcome it’s imperative the UK and EU retain a positive working relationship rather than a generation of rancour. The name of the game must be ‘give and take’ rather than nailing an opponent to the floor by extracting a short-term ‘best deal’ measured solely in monetary terms.

      From inception the Brexit movement (Farage and his followers) was (deliberately) blinkered to make out ‘leave’ and ‘remain’ as the only outcomes. This was perpetuated in the wording of Cameron’s foolishly organised referendum. It has been latched upon by the odious Johnson in his attempt to propel the UK towards the USA and deeper entrenchment of neo-liberalism.

      None of this needed to be, nor needs to be now.

      Various interests in the UK (political, commercial, and individual) have expressed dissatisfaction with how the EU is organised and behaves. For instance, EU finances have yet to be signed off by the official auditor. The Commission appears to be a gravy train for politicians put out to pasture (e.g. Kinnoch). The Parliament seems ineffectual. High level corruption (e.g. by lobbying interests) is rife. The Eurozone looks set for collapse. A particular gripe is how the EU commissariat keeps pushing for greater political union.

      A pile of concerns. Yet these are offset by advantages. Mitigating the former whilst retaining the latter is a much more sensible starting point. Indeed, EU institutional behaviour is subject to increasing criticism within some member nations. The UK no longer is alone in wanting reform. Given that membership of the EU provides so many benefits it would be hugely stupid if some members states detach themselves rather than first seek reform.

      The present state of Brexit is so chaotic that parliament must pull the plug and revoke Article 50. There must be no rush toward further referenda until the full range of options concerning UK ties has been worked out (including costing and “What if?” analyses). Even should complete separation from the EU be deemed desirable it does not follow that it must be done all in one go. Incremental detachment from some EU institutions offers less danger of unanticipated upset to either party.

      For example, the present, soon to be ditched, negotiations could have led to full customs union as an interim measure. When knock-on effects from other measures have settled then an orderly progression from customs union could be arranged. What is the urgency? It could be two or five years hence.

      Whatever else, when it next comes to a referendum the Norwegian/Swiss arrangement must be one among other explicit options to be ranked. Moreover, 2/3 agreement on the ultimate choice (perhaps following further referenda to clarify options receiving substantial initial backing) together with pre-specified electoral turnout are essential for avoiding civil discord. Additionally it must be made clear that referenda are advisory but not binding on parliament.

      Sadly, few people in high political office grasp the principles of change-management; most certainly not Johnson. Also, they too readily accept constraint imposed by the electoral cycle as excuse for short term planning. Parliament, and, such as it is, our constitution, have received a nasty shock. Perhaps in future, enlightened leaders of political parties represented in parliament will strive to find common ground on key issues concerning our polity and reserve disagreement for matters of deep principle. Of some urgency too is setting in motion steps toward a written constitution; in the meantime royal prerogatives, now known to be easily misused by despotic prime ministers, should be transferred to our Supreme Court.

      —–

      Released under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 international license (sic).

    2. Hi Smythe-Mogg, the most serious common sense I have heard yet. I agree with you, a Judge or a Court needs to urgently hand the task of negotiating with the EU to the Opposition the team of which should consist of not only JC but Hammond, Clarke and other opposition MPs who have the country’s interests at heart.

      What is clear is that BoJo has adopted the role of a Fascist Dictator yet the MSM are waging a campaign against Corbyn to make BoJo look electable, decisive and honourable. If anyone saw his disastrous, absolutely disastrous, showing at last weeks PMQs they would know what a liar and charlatan they are truly dealing with. He couldn’t answer serious questions, resorted to firing insults at JC and his body language was out of control. Something as serious as Brexit is nothing to joke about. He isn’t in politics to serve the country he is in it for pure, unadulterated power. He’s had a serious knock back this week from Parliament and he is fuming. He hasn’t got a clue how to listen, how to negotiate, what the nation needs and the rest. With Cummings at his side and the most Right Wing Fascist Government ever, it looks very ill indeed for the UK especially with the Orange Baboon in the White House salivating waiting to take over the UK basically.

    3. It’s a political not a legal matter. The courts prefer not to get involved in politics, quite rightly.
      Macron may be playing poker. He doesn’t favour a brutal severance any more than the other EU leaders. He may be putting on pressure to encourage an agreement. That doesn’t mean he’ll veto which would be playing into Johnson’s hands. Unlikely for Macron.

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