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Analysis

It’s not ‘deal’ vs ‘no deal’. Tusk didn’t say that.

by Hugo Dixon | 20.03.2019

Some pundits have wrongly interpreted Donald Tusk’s statement this evening as setting up a binary choice between the government’s deal and crashing out of the EU without any deal at all next week. Other options remain on the table.

The key to understanding the European Council president’s statement is to realise that it was a response to Theresa May’s letter this morning. In it, she asked for a delay to Brexit until the end of June to give her time to ram her deal through Parliament.

Tusk said he thought EU leaders might agree a “short” delay at their summit meeting tomorrow – so long as MPs approve the prime minister’s deal. But this is not the same as saying the only alternative to the deal is to crash out with no deal – an option that the European Council president didn’t address in his statement.

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There is, of course, another alternative to the deal – a longer delay to Brexit. Such a delay could open up all sorts of possibilities that the prime minister has been strangling for nearly three years – in particular, softer forms of Brexit and asking the people whether they still want Brexit now they see what a frightful horlicks it has become.

Tusk didn’t address this issue in his statement because the prime minister didn’t request a longer delay in her letter to him. However, he did tweet last week that he would appeal to the leaders to be “open to a long extension if the UK finds it necessary to rethink its Brexit strategy and build consensus around it.” That remains the case – but it seems to depend on the UK deciding it wants a rethink.

The prime minister clearly has no such wish. But she is not a dictator. In the coming days, sensible ministers and Parliament must force her to change her mind.

We, the people, must pile on the pressure too. That’s why the huge “Put it to the People”  march being planned for Saturday is so important. Turn up, bring your friends and family, and make your views known.

Edited by Jenny Sterne

8 Responses to “It’s not ‘deal’ vs ‘no deal’. Tusk didn’t say that.”

  • She may not be a dictator but she’s the closest we’ve ever had to one – Oliver Cromwell notwithstanding. I feel like hiding in a corner with my eyes shut – it’s all a horrible nightmare.

    It was always going to be like this – down to the last second of the last day.

  • With Corbyn walking out of PM meeting because Chuka Ummuna was also there, he’s no better than May.
    More interested in playing party politics instead of trying to reach a national compromise. Seems obvious Corbyn wants May to take full responsibility for Brexit, so he can claim his hands are clean. Except they’re not.

  • Parliament must now take control of Brexit otherwise May’s stranglehold of the situation could lead the country to a no deal situation. Holding a third vote ( if allowed by the Speaker) would just be waste of precious time as the result is a foregone conclusion. It would be helpful if the EU could state that they would offer a longer extension if we held a second referendum. Parliament could then hopefully be compelled to force this outcome.

  • Really? A longer extension means participating in the EU parliamentary elections and you all seem to have forgotten what a dismal exercise that was. The largest party in the UK in 2014 was UKIP with 24 MEPS. The turnout was 35%. Where were all the remainers then? The risks to the EU are huge. Allowing the UK to stay past the EU elections without participation means that every piece of legislation passed by the new parliament/commission will be questionned and the whole EU project under threat. Is giving a long extension to the UK worth it?

  • Can we organise the powers that be to section May, as she is obviously mad. Doesn’t irratic behaviour of an extreme nature show a clear corelation to mental instability. At this point I would even welcome a Military Coup, along side a sectioning of the prime minister.

  • In answer to Alexandra’s comments of earlier today, I readily admit I was a “sleep-walker” and lived (obviously) in a comfortable little bubble of my own. This referendum and the lead up to it in 2015-16 was an awakening for me. Up and till that point I was pretty apolitical. Now everything has changed. Given the opportunity I would even consider standing as a candidate myself to be an MEP. In the word’s of the Blues Brothers. I’ve seen the light!!!!!
    I’m sure I’m not alone in this respect, and given a second chance we would actively work as part of the EU and for the good of all, both European and UK citizens, and NOT let it be the lair of UKIP and far-right voices alone. Lets just hope we can get a second chance.

  • I totally agree with Lisa. I never for a moment thought that we would be mad enough to vote ourselves out of an institution that had strengthened our economy and offered us so many benefits so I never even thought about voting in the MEP elections. ALL will be different now with 16 million people totally engaged in ensuring that this dreadful set of affairs which allowed people like Farage in like a Trojan horse to cause maximum damage to happen again.