Senior Tories’ message for Theresa May: ‘It’s time to go’

Gove and Lidington both reported to have support to take over as UK prime minister.

Senior members of the Conservative Party have told the Cabinet that now is the time to get rid of Theresa May.

According to several reports in the British press Sunday, a number of names have been suggested as caretaker prime minister if May is ousted, including Michael Gove and David Lidington.

In the Telegraph, Nicky Morgan, a former Cabinet minister and Remain supporter, said of May: “Unfortunately, I think that what started off as qualities that people admired are the ones that now mean she’s not the flexible leader to find a way through this.

“I understand that it is difficult to say to someone that it’s time to go. But there are enough people around the Cabinet table who can step up … and she’s got to listen.”

In the same paper, former Brexit minister Steve Baker had a message for the Cabinet: “If they will not act now when are they ever going to be seen to step forward and how could they possibly persuade the country that they’re the great statesmen to take us forward?”

In the Mail, an unnamed “government source” said there is “complete unanimity” that May has to go, with Environment Secretary Michael Gove the “consensus choice” to replace her in Downing Street. Pro-Remain Cabinet ministers such as Chancellor Philip Hammond and Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd are reported to have been backing Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington to take over from May.

David Davis, May’s first Brexit secretary, writes in the Telegraph that the EU treated the prime minister with “humiliating disdain” and if her deal doesn’t pass in parliament at the third time of asking, she should be prepared to leave the EU with no deal.

EU’s Brexit and China problems are intertwined

Britain and Beijing loom as potentially formidable, if very different, rivals.

EU leaders had planned to spend a summit dinner talking about an aggressive, potentially hostile, rival with aspirations of global economic and military power.

The surprise was it ended up being about Britain and not China.

This summit was not supposed to focus on Brexit at all, but rather the EU’s future in a tumultuous world. As it turned out the two issues are very much intertwined.

Thursday’s dinner ended up being all about Brexit, rather than Beijing as planned. But many of the concerns about competition from China, expressed by EU leaders when the postponed session finally took place Friday, echoed their worries about future competition with a newly sovereign U.K. It is these fears that have framed the bloc’s negotiating positions on Brexit.

Late Thursday night, Council President Donald Tusk steered leaders to a decision to postpone the Brexit deadline that achieved his own top goal — to keep open the possibility of a longer-term delay that just might lead to Britain staying in the EU.

Tusk said that the thought of the U.K. as a rival was too awful for him to contemplate.

Tusk’s persistence in harboring such hopes stems not so much from his personal affection for Britain — formed as a young Beatles fan in Communist Poland — even though that appreciation is genuine. “I am more pro-British than you, I think,” Tusk joked with a reporter from the U.K. Friday.

Rather, aides and associates said, it is based on his conviction that the post-Brexit relationship will not be a happy one of shared values and win-win economic ties.

Instead, he expects a competitive, even tense, rivalry in which the EU continues to serve as a punching bag for London and becomes a scapegoat for the inevitable problems, financial and otherwise, that will follow Britain’s departure.

“They will blame the EU for their misfortunes,” a senior official said, speaking anonymously to discuss Tusk’s private thinking. “There is no bright future after Brexit.”

EU leaders at the summit in Brussels | Stephanie Lecocq/EFE via EPA

Tusk’s apprehensions reflect a warning by former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair who told POLITICO last year that the U.K. after Brexit could well end up “a competitor to Europe, not an ally” in a situation that could be “very ugly.”

Tusk said at the summit’s closing news conference that the thought of the U.K. as a rival was too awful for him to contemplate.

“I am mentally not able to treat today equally the U.K. and China,” he said. “For me the U.K. is still a member of our family, not a rival.”

Fret on two fronts

But just as the EU frets about future relations with Britain, it is also grappling with a mix of apprehension — and grudging admiration — regarding China and other developing powerhouses.

European Union leaders worry about safeguarding intellectual property and demographic trends that clearly show Europe aging, shrinking and controlling a smaller and smaller share of the world economy. They also fret about disinformation, hacking and cyber-terrorism being used to target developed democracies.

“In a more unstable world, shaken by new global, technological and environmental realities, there is no doubt that only together can we set our own course and defend the strategic interests of the Union,” Tusk wrote to leaders in his invitation letter to the summit. “This is true whether we are talking about strengthening our economic base, combating unfair practices or tackling climate change. We will therefore discuss how to use all the levers at our disposal to safeguard the interests of our citizens and companies. China is a key global player in all these issues.”

Is it tougher investment screening that commands Beijing’s respect? Or warships of the Royal Navy patrolling in the South China Sea?

Unease in this age of worldwide geopolitical tumult certainly seemed to weigh on German Chancellor Angela Merkel as she intervened in Thursday’s emotional debate to rebuke leaders who seemed tempted to push for a no-deal outcome and eject the U.K.

Merkel, who is serving her fourth and final term and has begun a transfer of power in Germany, is facing threats of a trade war from U.S. President Donald Trump, an economy that shows signs of slowing, and surging populism across Europe. Her level of risk tolerance seems set at zero.

“Even if you don’t need the U.K., we need them,” Merkel said during the debate, according to two diplomats who described the exchange for POLITICO’s Brussels Playbook. In the moment, Merkel was admonishing Tusk for allowing the debate to dwell too long on the possibility of forcing the U.K. out without a deal. But her remark was viewed by observers as a message to French President Emmanuel Macron and others pushing a harder line.

Theresa May and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing | Pool photo by Dan Kitwood via Getty Images

As it tries to chart its way in the world, the EU faces a fundamental question: Is the world’s foremost champion of multilateral soft power capable of ever being tough enough to assert its values and truly defend its interests?

Greece might say yes — but that was a family feud.

Russia might say no.

Britain and China will be making their own hard-headed power calculations  in the years ahead.

Is it tougher investment screening that commands Beijing’s respect? Or warships of the Royal Navy patrolling in the South China Sea?

Chided on China

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, kicking off the discussion on China on Friday, scolded leaders for not beginning the conversation years ago. According to a diplomat in the room, Juncker noted the absence of “reciprocity in commercial relations with China” and said “the EU was wrong to hope that China would respect human rights more when economic progress increases.”

In a sobering speech, Juncker said that there had been no progress on three deliverables agreed at an EU-China summit last year: opening on civil aviation; more favorable respect for geographic indications (premium EU food names); and a working group on reforming the World Trade Organization.

“The EU should be clear but more firm with China,” Juncker said, according to the diplomat, and he called for stricter investment screening that would potentially curtail China’s growing influence in European companies.

Although the Brexit can has been kicked, it has not travelled far down the road.

Standing with Tusk at the closing news conference, Juncker said he found it easier at the summit to discuss China than Britain. “Not because China is asking to join the European Union but because it’s not leaving the European Union,” he explained.

At times Juncker almost sounded like Trump in complaining about unfair trade practices. “Competition between China and the European Union is not fair,” he declared.

Brexit is likely to be settled long before relations with China could ever be brought fully into balance. Although the Brexit can has been kicked, it has not travelled far down the road.

Instead of following EU leaders’ advice, and requesting a new deadline before the European Parliament election starts on May 23, British Prime Minister Theresa May asked for Brexit to be postponed until June 30. And instead of offering a plan for what happens if MPs reject her deal for a third time, May simply expressed optimism that she would prevail — with no explanation of how, according to EU diplomats.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, China’s President Xi Jinping, U.S. President Donald Trump and Britain’s PM Theresa May at a G20 meeting in Hamburg | Kay Nietfeld/AFP via Getty Images

As a result, EU officials stepped in and gave her two new dates — May 22 if she wins ratification for the Brexit deal negotiated with Brussels, or April 12 to come back with a new plan if she fails.

For the moment, the EU has the upper hand and May, awaiting their discussion in a windowless room on Thursday evening, quickly accepted the offer.

Both camps described their exchanges as cordial, but there is frustration on both sides and there have been hints of nastiness in the Brexit discussions. If a no-deal outcome appears inevitable, the dynamic could rapidly shift further in that direction.

The more immediate worry for both the EU27 and the U.K. is that Brexit is distracting from bigger issues like China policy, said Amanda Sloat, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Case in point: May did not attend the summit discussions on China on Saturday, saying she needed to return to London to deal with Brexit.

“I question whether the U.K. and EU will become political and economic rivals, as geography, history, financial interests, security concerns, and shared values will necessitate continued close cooperation in some form for the foreseeable future,” Sloat said. “My bigger concern is the all-consuming nature of Brexit, which could prevent the U.K. especially and the EU from engaging effectively against international rivals.”

Noting how the summit dinner on China became a summit dinner on Brexit, Sloat said: “Brexit already dominates debates in London, with a divided Cabinet and parliament having limited bandwidth to engage on global challenges.”

She added, “Even if the U.K. parliament ratifies a Brexit deal, the two sides must then embark on equally complicated and domestically contentious negotiations about their future relationship. In some form, Brexit will afflict Europe for years and risks detracting attention from emerging threats.”

Jacopo Barigazzi and Floria Eder contributed reporting. 

This article is part of POLITICO’s premium Brexit service for professionals: Brexit Pro. To test our our expert policy coverage of the implications and next steps per industry, email pro@politico.eu for a complimentary trial.


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EU drops ‘neighborly cooperation’ hint to departing UK

Iceland’s prime minister says ‘we would be happy to talk’ with the UK.

After yesterday’s lengthy Brexit talks, European leaders dropped some not-so-subtle hints in London’s direction that sticking close to the EU club — even if not actually within in — comes with perks.

The European Council on Friday began its second summit day with a celebration of European cooperation, marking the 25th anniversary of the European Economic Area — the group of countries that includes all the EU members plus Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland.

It came on the morning after EU leaders granted a short extension to Brexit day, throwing a lifeline to MPs in the House of Commons who want to steer the government towards a closer post-Brexit relationship with the EU.

Speaking about the EEA’s achievements, Council President Donald Tusk lauded “the spirit of neighborly cooperation”.

“We should never take this for granted,” he told the Council and the leaders of Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein, who had also travelled to Brussels to mark the anniversary.

“Even though some of us are outside the European Union, we do have a great cooperation” — Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg

“In a world of resurgent nationalism and authoritarianism… you have stood firmly on the side of wisdom, the rule of law, cooperation, and deeper integration among our nations,” he added.

Martin Selmayr, secretary-general of the Commission, called the EEA “a well tested, successful model for close economic integration.”

Arriving at the Council, the guest leaders also offered some words of advice for Britain.

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg noted that cooperation with the EU and being a non-member were not mutually exclusive.

“Even though some of us are outside the European Union, we do have a great cooperation,” she told reporters.

Iceland PM Katrín Jakobsdóttir | Halldor Kolbeins/AFP via Getty Images

Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir stressed that working together with the bloc had been “very beneficial” and said the U.K. ought to think about “how to proceed” in terms of cooperating with Europe.

“We have valued the importance of European cooperation very much, even though we stand outside the EU,” she said. “That’s something the U.K. must think about — what the values of European cooperation are.”

Asked if she would welcome the U.K. into European Free Trade Association — made up of the three countries plus Switzerland — Jakobsdóttir noted that the four EFTA states had to abide by the four freedoms, including freedom of movement, which Theresa May has pledged to end.

But Jakobsdóttir added: “We would be happy to talk about that if that’s something the U.K. wants to talk about.”


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Theresa May says she blamed MPs out of ‘frustration’

Prime minister acknowledges MPs ‘have difficult jobs to do.’

Theresa May sought to limit the damage caused by her controversial Downing Street statement blaming MPs for the Brexit impasse, admitting that she had been venting “frustration.”

Speaking at a midnight press conference in Brussels after agreeing an extension to the Brexit deadline with the EU27, the U.K. prime minister appeared to express a degree of contrition for the statement in which she said she shared public impatience with “political games” in Westminster.

“I know MPs on all sides of the debate have passionate views, and I respect those different positions,” she said. “Last night I expressed my frustration. I know that MPs are frustrated too. They have difficult jobs to do.”

A number of MPs condemned the statement, which they said risked heightening anger with MPs and exacerbating a febrile political atmosphere in the U.K.

May said she would return to London on Friday to continue attempting to persuade MPs to back her deal in a vote next week.

At the summit, the EU27 rejected her suggestion of an extension until June 30 if the deal passes, instead shortening the timetable to May 22. If the deal falls — currently the more likely scenario — the U.K. will have until April 12 to present an alternative plan or leave without a deal. If the alternative plan requires a further extension, the U.K. must take part in the European Parliament election in May.

May said she was still believed firmly that it would be “wrong” to make U.K. voters participate in the election, three years after voting to leave the EU. However, she said that if her deal was rejected, the government would “need to work with the House [of Commons] to decide how we proceed.”

Earlier in the day May had refused to rule out taking the U.K. out of the EU without a deal if MPs rejected her agreement again. But she appeared to strike a softer tone in her late-night press conference.

“If Parliament does not agree a deal next week, the EU Council will extend Article 50 until 12 April. At this point we would either leave with no deal, or put forward an alternative plan,” she said.

May returns to Westminster facing opposition on all sides, with the Labour party seeking to build a majority for an alternative Brexit plan focused on changes to the Political Declaration on the future relationship with the EU, to mandate a softer Brexit, with the U.K. remaining in a customs union and close to the single market.

The House of Commons will have the chance to hold votes on Monday on a government motion, with one plan already put forward which would allow MPs to seize control of the parliamentary timetable from the government.

Within her own ministerial ranks, May also faces the risk of revolt from one or other faction if she steers the U.K. either toward or decisively away from a no deal Brexit. One Cabinet minister, Liz Truss, told the Sun newspaper she would far prefer no deal to a long extension, involving participation in the European election.

Meanwhile ITV reported that the Conservative Chief Whip, Julian Smith, the lead enforcer of May’s authority within the parliamentary party, was angered by her Wednesday statement blaming MPs for the impasse.

This article is part of POLITICO’s premium Brexit service for professionals: Brexit Pro. To test our our expert policy coverage of the implications and next steps per industry, email pro@politico.eu for a complimentary trial.


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EU leaders grant Brexit extension with strings attached

Until April 12, ‘all options remain open,’ said Council President Donald Tusk.

EU leaders agreed to postpone Brexit day, imposing two new dates — April 12 and May 22 — that will determine the course of the U.K.’s departure.

The new plan, agreed at a summit in Brussels, was a flat rejection of U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s request for an extension of the Article 50 negotiating period to June 30.

Both new dates come with conditions, but in either event the original March 29 deadline — the so-called cliff-edge by which Britain would be expelled from the bloc with or without a divorce agreement — was put off, if only for two weeks.

EU27 leaders said that if the U.K. parliament ratifies the Brexit deal before the March 29 deadline, Britain can have until May 22 to complete the technical steps needed to ratify the deal, exit and begin a transition period. That date is a day before the European Parliament election begins.

If the House of Commons fails to vote by the end of next week, or votes to reject the deal for a third time — the outcome EU leaders appear to view as more likely given continuing political chaos in London — the U.K. would have until April 12 “to indicate a way forward.”

At a press conference after the EU leaders’ meeting, Council President Donald Tusk confirmed that May had agreed to the plan — though in truth, with a no-deal Brexit imminent she had little choice.

“What this means in practice is that until that date [April 12], all options will remain open and the cliff-edge date will be delayed,” said Tusk.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel described the discussion as “very intense but also very successful.”

In essence, the Council had granted Britain an extension until “April 11 or April 12”, she said. “If there is no positive decision [in the House of Commons], this will be the exit date.”

French President Emmanuel Macron said the new plan put the onus on the U.K. “I wanted to absolutely avoid a summit next week that would have been a crisis summit in bad conditions after maybe another non-decision,” he said.

“The clock is ticking not just on Brexit, the clock is also ticking in other areas,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said, indicating a certain frustration that the EU has had to spend so much time on Britain’s departure.

In her own press conference, May reiterated her view that it would be wrong for the U.K. to participate in the European Parliament election. “I believe strongly that it would be wrong to ask people in the U.K. to participate in these elections three years after voting to leave the EU,” she said.

“What the decision today underlines is the importance of the House of Commons passing a Brexit deal next week so that we can bring an end to the uncertainty and leave in a smooth and orderly manner,” she added.

The decision came after hours of agonizing, at times angry, debate and followed the U.K. prime minister’s latest appearance at a European Council summit where she left colleagues infuriated by her lack of clarity and inability to steer the Brexit process.

“The European Council agrees to an extension until 22 May 2019, provided the Withdrawal Agreement is approved by the House of Commons next week,” the leaders wrote in the formal conclusion of their deliberations. “If the Withdrawal Agreement is not approved by the House of Commons next week, the European Council agrees to an extension until 12 April 2019 and expects the United Kingdom to indicate a way forward before this date for consideration by the European Council.”

“Our main goal today was to avoid a hard Brexit next week. So there will be a delay until April 12. If the House of Commons votes for the existing deal next week, there will be an extension until May 22 to allow for an orderly Brexit,” Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told reporters as he left the summit venue.

“But if they do not agree [to the deal] then we’re a step closer to a hard Brexit, of course,” he said, adding that he “strongly recommended” British MPs vote for the deal.

May had requested an extension until June 30 — ignoring a warning from European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker that the U.K. would have to participate in the European Parliament election if it stayed in the bloc beyond May 22. Leaders swiftly dismissed that request out of hand.

But May’s lack of clarity about what might happen if she failed to win ratification of the deal, and her unwillingness to state what next-steps she envisioned, left the 27 leaders flummoxed and more divided than at any point in the more than two-year-long Brexit process.

The EU27 spent an hour and 45 minutes questioning May at the start of the summit, and got virtually nowhere. One senior EU official said May’s answers were “not always crystal clear.”

Another senior EU official said: “This discussion did not add much in terms of substance. For the leaders, they didn’t get anything that they didn’t know.”

The discussion continued once May had left the room, but the fierce disagreements among the 27 forced the leaders to upend their summit agenda and put off a planned dinner discussion about China and the EU’s place in the world. Instead, they took a break, and resumed the Brexit discussion over dinner — a demonstration that despite their best efforts, Brexit to a large degree has hijacked the EU’s most substantive policy agenda.

It was during dinner that some of the most heated exchanges took place, officials said.

Chief among the factors that complicated the discussions over when to set the new cliff-edge was the upcoming European Parliament election. Leaders fear that the EU will face an institutional crisis if somehow the U.K. remained a member of the bloc but refused to participate in the election and send representatives to Brussels as required under the EU treaties.

But there were numerous other factors, including concerns about how Brexit would impact individual countries, especially Belgium, which has a national election on May 26, coinciding with the EU election.

French President Emmanuel Macron pushed to bring the proposed May 22 deadline forward to May 7. He also took a hard line in suggesting that the EU might need to simply eject the U.K. without any agreement — a move that could prove economically disastrous not just to Britain but to the EU, especially neighboring countries like Ireland and the Netherlands.

In her own press conference, May appeared to row back from her bullish statement in Downing Street last night in which she blamed MPs for the Brexit impasse. That brought an angry response from many of those she is trying to persuade to back her Brexit deal.

“Last night I expressed my frustration. I know that MPs are frustrated too. They have difficult jobs to do,” she said.

Zia Weise contributed reporting.

British MPs advised to travel in groups to avoid Brexit abuse

‘I have never felt this level of tension during my time in the House,’ deputy speaker says.

British Members of Parliament have been advised to take taxis or travel home together to avoid the risk of abuse over Brexit.

Lindsay Hoyle, a deputy speaker of the House of Commons, wrote to all MPs saying the Metropolitan Police had been “left in no doubt” that they must ensure “Members of Parliament can vote in Parliament without fear.”

Hoyle, a Labour MP since 2010, wrote: “Personally, I have never felt this level of tension during my time in the House and I am aware that other colleagues feel the same.

“Many colleagues have already been subject to widely publicised abuse and intimidation.”

He advised MPs to take “simple steps to improve our personal safety” such as traveling home by taxi or with colleagues, as “tensions and emotions are running at an all-time high.”

Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle said on Thursday that a man had tried to assault him and had branded MPs “traitors.”

Also on Thursday, Tobias Ellwood, a Conservative MP and defense minister, tweeted a letter he was sent, threatening him and pledging to “bring London to its f***ing knees.”

John Bercow, the speaker of the House of Commons, on Thursday told MPs they are not “traitors” and each must do “what he or she thinks is right,” the day after Theresa May blamed parliament for the Brexit delay.

The prime minister said on Wednesday: “You the public have had enough … I agree, I am on your side.” She added: “You asked us to get on with it, and that is what I am determined to do.” A longer delay would only serve to “give more time for politicians to argue,” she said, warning that the public is fast losing patience with “political games” in Westminster.

Bercow on Thursday sought to reassure MPs that they have done nothing wrong.

“None of you is a traitor. All of you are doing your best,” he said. “I believe passionately in the institution of parliament, in the rights of members of this House, and in their commitment to their duty … The sole duty of every Member of Parliament is to do what he or she thinks is right.”

This article is part of POLITICO’s premium Brexit service for professionals: Brexit Pro. To test our our expert policy coverage of the implications and next steps per industry, email pro@politico.eu for a complimentary trial.


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UK sets up Brexit bunker to coordinate troop deployments in event of no deal

The MOD’s no-deal Brexit preparations are known by the codename Operation Redfold.

A military operations center based in the Ministry of Defence will coordinate deployments of any troops required to help with a no-deal Brexit, the U.K. government confirmed.

Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said in December that 3,500 troops would be on standby to assist any government departments with no deal “contingencies.”

Responding to reports in the Sun and on Sky News that operations will be co-ordinated from a secure bunker in Whitehall, an MOD spokesperson said the department was “willing to support wider government planning for any scenario.”

“We have committed to holding 3,500 troops at readiness to aid contingency plans. We will consider any requests from other government departments if they feel defence capability could contribute to their no-deal planning,” the spokesperson said.

With Theresa May’s Brexit deal still not approved by the House of Commons with eight days to go until the U.K.’s scheduled departure, a no-deal exit — which is expected to cause significant disruption at ports — remains a real prospect.

The MOD’s no-deal Brexit preparations are known by the codename Operation Redfold. Government-wide contingency plans have been dubbed Operation Yellowhammer.

Any requests for military assistance will be considered by the MOD under standard U.K. government “military aid to civil authorities” methods, and will require ministerial authorization.

EU27 leaders are expected to tell May at Thursday’s European Council summit that they could offer a delay to Brexit until late May, but only if she can secure MPs’ support for her deal at a third time of asking next week. If she fails, it is not clear whether the EU will countenance a longer extension or allow the U.K. to leave with no deal.

When asked whether she would contemplate no deal next week, May said when arriving at the summit that she “sincerely” wanted to leave the EU with a negotiated agreement, but that delivering Brexit is “what matters.”

This article is part of POLITICO’s premium Brexit service for professionals: Brexit Pro. To test our our expert policy coverage of the implications and next steps per industry, email pro@politico.eu for a complimentary trial.


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Theresa May refuses to rule out no-deal exit if her plan falls for third time

‘What is important is that parliament delivers on the result of the referendum.’

Theresa May refused to rule out taking the U.K. out of the EU without a deal as she arrived at what could be her last EU summit.

The U.K. prime minister said she would discuss with fellow leaders her request for a short extension of Article 50 until the end of June, something the EU has said would only be feasible if MPs back her deal in the House of Commons next week.

Asked whether, if the deal is rejected for a third time, she would be willing to see the U.K. leave without a deal next Friday, May said she “sincerely” hoped the country could leave with a negotiated settlement but that “what matters” was delivering Brexit.

“What is important is that parliament delivers on the result of the referendum and that we deliver Brexit for the British people,” she said. “I sincerely hope that we can do that with a deal. I’m still working on ensuring that parliament can agree a deal so that we can leave in an orderly way. What matters is that we deliver on the vote of the British people.”

Jeremy Corbyn was also in Brussels on Thursday and said Labour will urgently try to form a majority in the House of Commons for an alternative Brexit deal, to prevent the U.K. “crashing out” next week.

Speaking after talks with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier and European Commission Secretary-General Martin Selmayr in Brussels, Corbyn ruled out supporting Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal, despite a warning from the EU on Wednesday that there could be no short extension of Article 50 without a deal having been ratified.

“The prime minister’s deal has been flatly rejected twice by the British parliament. We do not believe it is a way forward. Therefore we are looking for an alternative that can command a majority in parliament,” Corbyn said.

Corbyn, who spoke to May on Wednesday night, said he will meet the prime minister again next week.

Asked whether he had been told the EU was contemplating a long extension to Article 50 should May’s deal be voted down again next week, Corbyn said: “These are hypotheticals. As far as we’re concerned we think there’s an urgency in constructing a majority for an agreeable solution.”

Under pressure from some MPs in his own party to back a second referendum, Corbyn said that a “confirmatory vote” at the end of negotiations was a part of Labour’s Brexit policy, and added: “We are considering what proposals we put to the British parliament next week.”

While in Brussels, Corbyn, along with Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer, will also meet members of the Party of European Socialists group, including seven EU prime ministers.

Soft or hard, Brexit will cost UK and EU billions of euros: study

While the EU and the UKare set to lose billions in any Brexit scenario, there are winners, too.

Europeans are facing billions of euros in income losses due to Brexit, a study by the German Bertelsmann Stiftung has found.

A hard Brexit would hit citizens in both the EU and the United Kingdom particularly hard, resulting in €57.3 billion in income losses every year in the U.K. and €40.4 billion in the EU’s remaining 27 member states.

Germany alone would see annual income losses of €9.5 billion. France and Italy won’t escape unscathed, either: The study expects €8 billion and €6 billion in annual income losses respectively for the two countries, making them the biggest losers after the U.K. and Germany.

Yet a soft Brexit would cost Europe dearly too, although considerably less than a hard Brexit. In the U.K., income losses in case of a soft Brexit would amount to €32 billion a year, while the remaining EU countries would incur annual income losses of around €22 billion.

For some countries outside the EU, however, Brexit is good news. The study shows that incomes in the United States could rise by around €13 billion per year, while China could see a rise of €5 billion annually.

That’s because “European value chains are negatively affected by Brexit,” said Dr. Dominic Ponattu, one of the study’s authors. “This would make trade within Europe more expensive and trade with the rest of the world could become more attractive.”


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John Bercow to UK MPs: ‘None of you is a traitor’

Parliament speaker hits back after prime minister blamed MPs for Brexit delay.

John Bercow, speaker of the U.K. House of Commons, told MPs they were not “traitors” and must do “what he or she thinks is right,” the day after Theresa May blamed parliament for the Brexit delay.

In a rare address to the nation Wednesday night from inside No. 10 Downing Street, the prime minister said: “You the public have had enough … I agree, I am on your side.” She added: “You asked us to get on with it, and that is what I am determined to do.” A longer delay would only serve to “give more time for politicians to argue,” she said, warning that the public was fast losing patience with the “political games” in Westminster.

May’s statement to the nation came after she warned MPs she was not prepared “as prime minister” to delay Brexit any longer than three months.

Bercow on Thursday sought to reassure MPs that they had done nothing wrong.

“None of you is a traitor. All of you are doing your best,” he said.

“I believe passionately in the institution of parliament, in the rights of members of this house, and in their commitment to their duty … The sole duty of every member of parliament is to do what he or she thinks is right.”


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