After all this drama over the last few days, with Theresa May meeting EU officials in Brussels and trying to thrash out the final parts of the deal and come to an agreement about a November summit, we’ve come back to just kicking the can down the road.
Mrs. May finally came to a brick wall at the end of the road, but she’s knocked right through it and carried on kicking the can through the gardens and alleyways behind it.
The Prime Minister has repeatedly said during press conferences today and yesterday that she doesn’t intend to extend the transition period, but that it is an option. That option, it seems, might be exactly what’s about to happen.
During a press conference today, she said: “I’m not standing here proposing an extension to the implementation period. What has now emerged is the idea that an option to extend the implementation period could be a further solution to this issue of the backstop in Northern Ireland,”
Mrs. May today announced in a press conference that the current 21-month deal might be extended by “a few months” if necessary. She proposed this as an option that would help her government and the EU come to an agreement about the areas they agree on, and have more time to solve issues they didn’t agree on – namely, the Irish backstop issue.
According to an EU source who spoke to the BBC, however, there would have to be “financial implications” if the UK did decide to extend this transition period. So we could be in for yet another hefty bill.
There are some other theories about why the Prime Minister is doing this, however. Tom Newton Dunn, the Political Editor for The Sun, tweeted today:
“Why would the PM appear to commit near political suicide by flaunting a transition extension? Because, I’m told, she thinks it may be the only way to re-engage Barnier. Appears No10 are now v worried that EU27 are close to pulling the plug entirely, and ready to go for no deal.”
And that really could be it. A few weeks ago when Mrs. May demanded respect from the EU and told them the ball was in their court, the EU responded by saying…well, nothing. Perhaps this is Theresa trying to provoke them into reacting again. It may have worked, too.
At the end of the summit, Donald Tusk told journalists that while there was no major breakthrough on the Ireland border issue, he was in a “much better mood” than the previous summit in Salzburg.
Jean-Claude Juncker also publicly stated that the extension of the Brexit transition period “probably will happen,” and that a “No Deal” scenario would be dangerous for both Britain and the EU. Translation: bad for the EU.
So it could well be that by the time of the next summit in November, there could be some kind of process in place for us to leave in March. But it could mean that the UK is tied to EU rules for longer, and that the next few months will remain turbulent and uncertain.
Merkel even thinks that a Brexit deal might be possible, stating that she had left the dinner table after the summit yesterday “neither more pessimistic nor more optimistic” than before. She even said “where there is a will, there is a way, that is usually the case” – and we all know that there is, secretly, a will within the EU to strike a deal.
They know they need us, and there’s only so long they can keep on bluffing. Time is ticking and they know it’s in their interests to make some kind of deal.
If we leave without a deal, we’re able to become as competitive as we like, and we know they don’t want that.
Yesterday and today were meant to be pivotal moments for Brexit, but yet again, we’ve been let down and misled.
Nothing has happened, still, and I’m getting tired of it. So is every other Brexiteer and regular person in this country who just want the politicians to listen to them.