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May Accepts October Delay, Faces Skeptical MPs: Brexit Update

By Bloomberg 11 April 2019
Caption
A grab from a handout video made available by the UK Parliamentary Recording Unit shows British Prime Minister Theresa May in the House of Commons parliament in London, Britain, 12 March 2019. MPs defeated her Brexit deal by 149 votes. The United Kingdom is officially due to leave the European Union on 29 March 2019, two years after triggering Article 50 in consequence to a referendum. EPA-EFE/UK PARLIAMENTARY RECORDING UNIT / HANDOUT MANDATORY CREDIT: UK PARLIAMENTARY RECORDING UNIT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

Theresa May accepted the European Union’s offer to extend Brexit to Oct. 31, and must now sell it to skeptical members of Parliament and a Conservative Party losing patience in her leadership.

Key Developments:
EU leaders agree to extend Brexit to Oct. 31, with review of progress in June; May still aims to leave by May 22 to avoid EU elections May expected to give statement to Parliament at about 1 p.m. Government talks with Labour on Brexit continue
UKIP to Fight Every Seat in EU Elections (12:15 p.m.)
The pro-Brexit U.K. Independence Party, a key driving force behind the vote to leave the EU in 2016, said Thursday it will fight for every seat in the European elections. The party — which won the most seats in the 2014 European election — has raised 500,000 pounds ($654,000) to send leaflets to 27 million households, it said in a statement.

UKIP isn’t the force it was 5 years ago, having gone through a succession of leaders since Nigel Farage stepped down following the 2016 plebiscite. Farage eventually quit the party last year, complaining about current leader Gerard Batten’s obsession with Islam and his association with former English Defence League leader Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, known as Tommy Robinson.

Just seven of the 24 MEPs elected on the UKIP ticket in 2014 remain in the party, with eight now forming part of Farage’s new vehicle, the Brexit Party, and others becoming independents. Farage is due to speak at the launch of the Brexit Party’s European election campaign on Friday.

Ireland’s Donohoe Sees U.K. Leaving in October (11:05 a.m.)
Irish Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said he thinks the next six months are the “real deal” for preparing for Brexit. In an interview with Ireland’s Newstalk radio, he said he believes the U.K. will exit the EU at the end of October — a position that puts him slightly at odds with Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, who hasn’t ruled out the possibility of further delays if needed.

Cox: No Preconditions in Labour Talks (11 a.m.)
Attorney General Geoffrey Cox said government discussions with the opposition Labour Party on Brexit, which continue between officials on Thursday, are being “pursued in good faith’’ with “no preconditions.’’ A further referendum on Brexit has not been ruled out, he said.

“Of course, we will listen to any suggestions that are made, whether it be about a second referendum or any other matter to see if we can find common ground in the interests of the country to leave the European Union as swiftly as possible,’’ Cox told the House of Commons.

Conservative Brexiteers Unhappy (10:20 a.m.)
Pro-Brexit Conservative MPs have been setting out their dissatisfaction with the extension, a foretaste of the reception Theresa May will likely face in the House of Commons later.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea, and it’s not delivering on the referendum result,’’ Jacob Rees-Mogg told Sky News. “Here we are heading to Halloween and there is some symbolism in that, I think.’’ Rees-Mogg did make clear, though, that he’s not agitating for May to be replaced as party leader and prime minister, despite a recent attempt by his colleague Mark Francois to reignite a no-confidence motion in May.

Tory MP Maria Caulfield also expressed anger. “There is a ploy by those MPs who never wanted to leave the EU in the first place to kick the can down the road,’’ she told Sky, adding that the divorce deal isn’t likely to get more support. “At this stage of the negotiations, you have to be prepared to walk away.’’

DM

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