EU Delay Plan Said to Allow for New Vote on Deal: Brexit Update

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(Bloomberg) —

European Union leaders are planning to offer the U.K. a conditional Brexit extension at this week’s summit in Brussels, giving Prime Minister Theresa May one more chance to get her deal approved in Parliament before March 29, officials familiar with the plan said.

Key Developments:

  • House of Commons Speaker John Bercow says May can’t bring the same deal back to Parliament for a third vote
  • EU’s extension plan said to leave May room for one more vote on deal — though that will depend on whether Bercow allows it; pound extends gains
  • Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay says another vote is very unlikely this week
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel vows to continue to fight for orderly Brexit

Pound Extends Gains (11:15 a.m.)

The pound extended gains to 1.33 per dollar after Bloomberg reported the EU plans to offer the U.K. a conditional Brexit extension that leaves room for one last try at getting Theresa May’s deal through Parliament. (see 11 a.m.)

Read more: Pound Touches $1.33 as Another Brexit-Deal Vote Seen Possible

EU Plan Said to Leave Room for One More Vote (11 a.m.)

The EU’s 27 remaining leaders are unlikely to finalize a Brexit extension at a summit this week, instead offering a proposal that leaves room for Theresa May to have one last shot at getting her deal through Parliament before March 29, according to four EU officials with knowledge of the Brexit discussions.

Leaders are likely to make clear in their summit conclusions how long the delay should be if May’s deal is defeated. If the agreement is ratified, a shorter delay would be used.

The official decision to delay Brexit by the EU would then be taken in the days before the U.K.’s scheduled departure. That could probably happen without needing another summit, although a gathering next week hasn’t been totally ruled out, officials said.

Several countries are still reluctant to allow an extension, however, and diplomats warn that the discussion on Thursday could be long and heated.

EU Endorses Key No-Deal Preparation (10:20 p.m.)

While most of the talk is about delaying Brexit, the EU has completed some important preparations in the case of no-deal.

The so-called EU27 governments endorsed a series of possible laws to “limit the most severe damage caused by a disorderly Brexit in specific sectors,” according to an EU statement published in Brussels on Tuesday.

Covering areas such as fisheries, transport, social security and student-exchange programs, the measures will start to apply the day after the U.K.’s withdrawal in the event British politicians haven’t approved the deal.

Brexiteers Name Price for Backing Deal (10:10 a.m.)

Pro-Brexit Conservative politicians are trying to demonstrate the leverage they have over Theresa May as she struggles to get her deal through Parliament.

In an interview with the Conservativehome website Tuesday, former Cabinet minister Esther McVey and Tory MP Philip Davies said they would vote for the agreement if May then agreed to step down. “The only thing that probably would be enough would be if the prime minister announced she was going to stand down some time in the summer,” Davies said.

Separately, the Sun newspaper cited a member of the Tory pro-Brexit European Research Group caucus it didn’t identify as saying there could be “vote-strikes” on all government legislation if May seeks a long Brexit extension at the EU summit in Brussels this week.

France Warns No-Deal Brexit Can Still Happen (9:40 a.m.)

France’s Europe Minister Nathalie Loiseau sounded a tough note when she arrived at the EU meeting in Brussels, saying she was discussing with EU partners whether to block a Brexit delay.

A no-deal “can very well happen,” she said. “It’s not what we would like to happen.”

She said for a Brexit delay to be granted, the EU needed “something new,” rather than something that prolonged the impasse. “It’s a choice to be made by the United Kingdom,” she said. “They’ve said no to no-deal and they’ve said no to a realistic deal. They have to choose one of the two options.”

Germany to U.K.: Please Deliver Clear Plans (9:20 a.m.)

German Europe Minister Michael Roth had a stern warning for Theresa May’s government as he arrived for a meeting to prepare for Thursday’s summit in Brussels.

“I don’t have any appetite for substance-less, very abstract discussions and negotiations on Brexit,” he said. “Please deliver, dear friends in London, please deliver.”

He added: “Time is running out and we’re really exhausted by these negotiations and I expect clear and precise proposals of the British government, why such an extension is necessary. It’s not just a game, it’s an extremely serious situation.”

He said his government’s priority was to avoid a no-deal Brexit.

EU Prepares for Worst as Brexit Gets ‘More Foggy’ (8:55 a.m.)

European Union governments are discussing contingency measures for a no-deal Brexit as they seek clarity from London on how the U.K. government plans to go forward.

“We are preparing for the worst,’’ Romanian EU Affairs Minister George Ciamba told reporters before a ministerial meeting in Brussels, adding that the Brexit process has become “more foggy’’ after House of Commons Speaker John Bercow said another vote on the Brexit deal isn’t possible without substantial changes.

“We don’t have clarity’’ on the British government’s plans now, said Ciamba, whose government holds the rotating EU presidency. “There is less clarity today than there was yesterday.’’

Barclay: U.K. at ‘Moment of Crisis’ (8:30 a.m.)

Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay is continuing his media rounds, telling LBC radio the U.K. is at a “moment of crisis” after Speaker John Bercow ruled the government could not have another vote on the government’s Brexit deal without substantial change.

“All the alternatives lead to a softer Brexit or no Brexit at all,” Barclay said.

He later told BBC Radio 4 that Parliament was sending “conflicting messages” on Brexit that will force the government to seek a longer Brexit extension than it wants. Just how long Britain’s departure from the EU will be delayed, he said, would be discussed with Cabinet and then with the bloc.

Barclay indicated the government was not giving up on putting May’s deal to a vote after the EU summit in Brussels. Pro-Brexit MPs see a “growing risk” that Brexit will be canceled, he said, and discussions with the Northern Irish DUP on supporting the deal are also ongoing.

Brexit Secretary Says No Vote This Week (7:30 a.m.)

Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay said it was unlikely there would be another vote this week on May’s deal.

“The Speaker has raised the bar and that makes it more unlikely the vote will be this week,” he told Sky News. The “best” way forward now is to get a deal and just a short extension to complete the necessary legislation, he said.

The government will discuss the ruling in Cabinet, as he said the ruling raised questions.

“The Speaker is the referee and it’s important that all of us in the House of Commons respect the authority of the chair,’’ he said. “But the Speaker himself has said in previous rulings that we should not be bound by precedent and obviously this is a based on a precedent going back to 1604. It’s important that we look at his previous rulings in light of yesterday’s ruling.’’

Grieve Says Exit Won’t Happen on March 29 (7:20 a.m.)

Former Attorney General Dominic Grieve, who is campaigning to reverse Brexit, said Bercow’s decision makes it unlikely that the U.K. will leave the bloc on March 29.

“The real crisis is that the government can’t get its deal through the House of Commons,’’ Grieve told Talk Radio. “I think we are not leaving on the 29th; it is becoming less and less likely.’’

“If the House of Commons wants to vote on this motion,’’ Grieve said, referring to May’s meaningful vote, “then the government could table a preliminary motion to say we’re not bound by this ruling,’’ by the Speaker. However, Grieve said, that would be unlikely to pass.

Earlier:

May Prepares to Seek Long Brexit Delay as Speaker Scuppers Plans
Brexit Bulletin: Wrecking Ball
What Pound Likes Most About Brexit Is That It Isn’t Happening

–With assistance from Thomas Penny and Jones Hayden.

To contact the reporters on this story: Ian Wishart in Brussels at iwishart@bloomberg.net;Kitty Donaldson in London at kdonaldson1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Emma Ross-Thomas at erossthomas@bloomberg.net, ;Tim Ross at tross54@bloomberg.net, Stuart Biggs

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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