Mrs May has now officialy asked the President of the European Council for a further (short) extension of the Article 50 period until June 30th.
She estimates that this extension should permit the House to approve the Withdrawal agreement - or to decide on another “course to pursue”.
(In practice, Mrs May wants the House either to approve the Withdrawal agreement or accept a withdrawal without any deal. Even if such a crucial vote in the Commons would probably not obtain a significant majority - perhaps no more than a handful of votes …)
This means that she is refusing to consider other courses of action such as a new popular vote (referendum) and revocation of article 50 altogether.
On his side, the President of the European Council, Mr Donald Tusk, is advising the Council to be “patient” and to accept a longer and flexible extension (up to twelve months) of article 50 period which would leave open all solutions including a new popular vote and revocation.
Most members of the Council - including Germany - seem favorable to the President's suggestion. France seems to be the only one to object - for unclear reasons.
The ”longer and flexible extension” should also be positively received in the European Parliament.
As an influential german MEP (Mr Jo Leinen) puts it : “The EU should show the greatest possible flexibility to keep Great Britain closely aligned with the EU’s single Market or to prevent Brexit”.
Much will now depend on next votes in the Commons relating to :
- an eventual agreement of the final terms of the withdrawal conditions (including the "political declaration”)
- an eventual decison to hold a new popular vote with two options : acceptance of the deal or revocation of Brexit.
Besides , the irrational position of both Council and Commission on mandatory UK participation in EP elections of May 23/26th - irrespective of Brexit ongoing negociations - is a major additional complication. The only hope might be that, would UK hold such elections, british public opinion might feel more inclined to reconsider the whole Brexit issue. On the other hand, such elections might be used as a litmus test of present and updated popular inclinations vis à vis this issue - although internal divisions within the major political parties will not favor such clarification.
Once again, considering the “big picture” - that is the long term and strategic implications of Brexit for both UK and EU - patience and toleration should be expected from EU27 governments : “Forgive them for they do not know what they are doing” … and even less what they should do.
“EU should show flexibility to avoid hard Brexit”
"The EU should show the greatest possible flexibility to keep Great Britain closely aligned with the EU’s Single Market or even to prevent Brexit," says MEPJo LEINEN (S&D), spokesperson of the S&D-Group in the Constitutional Affairs Committee of the European Parliament (AFCO).
However, the European elections and the constitution of parliament must not be jeopardized. "It would be absurd, if the UK took part in the May European elections and then left the EU already in the autumn. If a long Brexit extension should become necessary, it must be for a fixed period of e.g. one year. The EU's concession must not allow Britain to dictate the timetable," LEINEN says.
Another prerequisite is that Great Britain makes legally binding commitments not to block EU decisions.”