Britain, EU enter make-or-break Brexit week




  • In World
  • 2019-10-14 03:20:28Z
  • By AFP

London (United Kingdom) (AFP) - Britain and the European Union on Monday enter a pivotal week that determines if they are still on course to reach amicable divorce terms -- and when Brexit might finally occur.

Queen Elizabeth II is due to step into the fray by performing her ceremonial duty of informing parliament about the government's agenda for the coming year.

But the odds of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's tenure lasting that long will depend largely on the outcome of hurried discussions held behind closed doors in Brussels around the same time.

EU leaders will then meet on Thursday and Friday for a summit held under the pressures of the October 31 Brexit deadline just two weeks away.

Diplomats see little hope that the sides can achieve in a few days what they had failed to in the more than three years since Britons first voted to leave the bloc after nearly 50 years.

"A lot of work remains to be done," EU negotiator Michel Barnier said Sunday.

Technical talks are continuing -- variously described as "intense" or "constructive" -- but few familiar with the process can point to progress on the decisive issue of British Northern Ireland's place in the EU customs zone.

Johnson warned his ministers Sunday to brace for a cliff-hanger finish.

The British leader said "a pathway to a deal could be seen but that there is still a significant amount of work to get there and we must remain prepared to leave on October 31."

- 'Clock is ticking'

Johnson rose to power in July on a promise not to extend Brexit for a third time this year -- even if only a few more weeks are needed to get a deal done.

Breaking that pledge could come back to haunt him in an early general election that most predict for the coming months.

Johnson is under parliamentary orders to seek an extension until January 31 of next year if no deal emerges by Saturday.

He has insisted that he will both follow the law and get Britain out by October 31 -- a contradiction that might end up being settled in court.

Outgoing EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker said British politics were getting more difficult to decipher than the riddle of an "Egyptian sphinx".

"If the British ask for more time, which they probably will not, it would in my view be a historical nonsense to refuse them," Juncker told Austria's Kurier newspaper.

Something will have to give when the British parliament holds its first emergency Saturday meeting since the 1982 Falklands War.

Johnson could theoretically then try to put up a fight and refuse to sign off on a Brexit extension request.

His refusal would immediately be contested in court.

The EU leaders could complicate matters further still by deciding to offer Britain extension terms that parliament cannot accept.

But Brussels might want to push Brexit back further into next year so that it stops interfering with all the other European issues piling up.

A long delay would be untenable for many eurosceptics ahead of an early election that some expect as early as December.

But a short one of a few months might only come on the condition that it is the last.

The last and seemingly least likely outcome would see parliament vote on an actual agreement reached in Brussels against all odds this week.

Brussels insists that the ball is now in Johnson's court.

"If the British government wants a solution, it must move quickly now," a European diplomat told AFP.

"The clocking is ticking,"

COMMENTS

More Related News

EU threatens escalation in tariff fight over Boeing and Airbus subsidies
EU threatens escalation in tariff fight over Boeing and Airbus subsidies

The EU says it will act "decisively" if the US imposes new tariffs, escalating a row about aviation subsidies.

Hong Kong: Chinese ambassador warns UK over
Hong Kong: Chinese ambassador warns UK over 'interference'

The warning came just after a pro-democracy campaigner asked for more international support.

Germany has only a few hundred doses of remdesivir, health minister says
Germany has only a few hundred doses of remdesivir, health minister says
  • US
  • 2020-07-06 13:46:22Z

Germany has only a few hundred doses of COVID-19 antiviral remdesivir, the country's health minister Jens Spahn told European Union lawmakers on Monday, urging to move production of the drug to Europe. "We do not have a huge inventory now, (it's) a few hundred doses that we have," he said at a video-conference hearing organised by the European Parliament. Spahn said he was working to ensure the drug could be produced in Europe.

WHO Reports Most Daily Cases Yet; Florida Hits Record: Virus Update
WHO Reports Most Daily Cases Yet; Florida Hits Record: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) -- The World Health Organization reported a one-day high for global coronavirus cases, led by the Americas, as U.S. cases rose 1.7%. Florida and Texas recorded new virus records. President Donald Trump again blamed more testing for a rise in U.S. cases, though the percent of those who test

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson's father defends trip to Greece via Bulgaria
  • US
  • 2020-07-04 17:42:13Z

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's father has defended his decision to fly to Greece via Bulgaria in order to "COVID-proof" his property there before he potentially rents it out. Stanley Johnson, the father of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, has defended his widely criticized decision to fly to Greece via Bulgaria in order to "COVID-proof" his property ahead of potentially letting it out. With a towel draped over his shoulder, Stanley Johnson told reporters Friday on a dirt track outside his villa on Mount Pelion that he wasn't "100% up to speed" on the British public's reaction since he went to Greece for "a quiet time, to organize the house."

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: World