The Brexit Secretary, Stephen Barclay, has said that the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal will be “dead” if the Withdrawal Agreement Bill is not approved by MPs in June. Speaking before the Lords EU select committee, Barclay also said, “There is an under-appreciation that No Deal can still happen,” adding, “If the House has not passed the Withdrawal Agreement Bill then there are growing voices in Europe, not least the French, who want to move on to other issues. So there is no automatic right of an extension and in that scenario it would then be a question for the House whether it voted for a No Deal and none of can sit here and definitively answer that question.” This comes as a spokesman for 10 Downing Street also said yesterday that if the deal is defeated, the UK will face a choice between a No Deal Brexit and revoking Article 50, on the basis that the EU would not grant a further extension after October. However, a senior EU official reportedly told BuzzFeed News that this suggestion was “not credible.”
A Labour spokesman yesterday ruled out the party voting for the Withdrawal Agreement Bill in its current form in the vote in June, but did not rule out abstaining. However, speaking on ITV’s Peston show last night, the Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry said, “I’m the elected politician… unless they make changes, which they haven’t… we are going to oppose it.”
Meanwhile, speaking on BBC Newsnight yesterday, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss said, “if we face a straight choice between revoking Brexit and No Deal… I would rather have No Deal. We have done preparations for No Deal, I agree there’ll be an impact, we’re trying to minimise that impact as much as possible.”
Elsewhere, Prime Minister Theresa May will today meet with the executive of the 1922 Committee of Conservative backbenchers, to discuss the timetable for her departure.
Separately, Change UK’s lead candidate in Scotland for the European Parliament election, David Macdonald, has quit his candidacy and endorsed the Liberal Democrats. He said, “If things continue as they are the Remain vote will split in Scotland,” adding that the Liberal Democrats share Change UK’s platform of being both pro-EU and opposed to Scottish independence.
Anna Nadibaidze: Eurosceptics should look to national leaders, not MEPs, to show their influence in the EU
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Open Europe’s Anna Nadibaidze argues that the predicted success of Eurosceptic parties in this month’s European Parliament elections will have a limited impact on the functioning of EU institutions, or the overall direction of the EU. She concludes, “It is more useful to look at the significant Eurosceptic presence in the governments of member states and its meaning for decision-making in the European Council.”
Elsewhere, Open Europe have recently published a new briefing, “The 2019 European Parliamentary elections and the future of the European project.”