Delays

In theory we leave the EU this Friday; however, all signs point in the opposite direction. Having failed to achieve progress in the course of Theresa May’s initial ‘short delay’, the question now revolves around the length of the further delay needed to reach a resolution. This evening she is seeking an extension until 30 June, although hoping to reach a resolution before 23 May, at which point the UK would need to take part in EU parliamentary elections. It is likely that the EU, encouraged by cross-party talks around a soft Brexit, will acquiesce to a delay. Emmanuel Macron, believed to be most likely to use his veto, appears to be won over. However, key figures are pushing for this to be longer than May proposes. Donald Tusk is suggesting a ‘flexible extension’ of up to a year, with the opportunity to conclude early if a deal is struck, and Angela Merkel is believed to countenance a delay until the end of the year. Brussels will be looking for reassurances around the extension, and potentially looking to bargain some of the UK’s existing privileges away. Meanwhile, at home, and despite the promise of progress, both the House of Commons and the general public remain entrenched. A ComRes poll this week states that 40% see revoking Article 50 as acceptable outcome, whereas a similar 38% feel the same about leaving with no deal. Reinforcing this, the vote share for the two main parties is down, whereas the Change UK and UKIP shares are both up.