The story causes a strong sense of déjà-vu. British Prime Minister Theresa May is travelling Europe to gather support for her Brexit deal. Again. On Tuesday, April 9th, she visits Berlin and Paris. Brussels is on the agenda for the following day. She is fighting to get through her vision of Brexit. Again. This journey she started off is weakened by the ongoing political crisis in her own country.
During meetings with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, May is thought to have advertised her EU-agreed deal. The date of the UK’s exit from the European Union is currently set for April 12th. That would mean May only has two days left before an unregulated no-deal Brexit would crush into place. A request was issued to grant another delay until June 30th, but the EU has not yet decided whether or not to grant it. A special summit on Wednesday, April 10th, where all EU member states will vote on the decision, is supposed to bring that answer.
Especially in view of that request’s approval or denial hanging in the balance, May was looking for backing from the two important European figureheads. Merkel so far has shown a will to compromise during the Brexit negotiations and repeatedly emphasised her commitment to preventing a no-deal Brexit. According to German news agency dpa, Merkel said she would not even rule out a so-called ‘Flextension’, the flexible long-term extension for the UK’s exit plans.
Macron on the other hand, has not made it a secret that he views another delay sceptically. Only last week, he declared the EU could not “be the hostage of a political crisis in the UK," when speaking to reporters in Paris after a meeting with Irish Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar, to discuss Brexit and other EU issues.
Generally, European leaders are repeating what the EU has continually said, that the withdrawal agreement would not be re-opened for negotiations.
In the meantime, back home in the UK, talks between the government and the opposition Labour party will continue, according to the BBC.
The two sides have been discussing a way forward for the Brexit negotiations for almost a week and Labour party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, was quoted as saying that the ongoing talks "have to mean a movement" in the government's policy, adding, "So far there's been no change in those red lines."
The main issue is that Labour demands a permanent customs union with the European Union and wants “to have a say” in future trade deals. A stand that causes alarm bells to go off for most MPs from the conservative side, who favour a more definitive Brexit without close remaining ties to the European Union.
The BBC also reported on Monday, April 8th, that its sources had indicated May had not accepted Labour's customs union demand but saw a move towards changing the non-binding political declaration, which is the part of the deal outlining the future relationship with the EU.
Overall, the outcome of both the special summit, deciding on the possible extension to the final Brexit day, and the cross-party talks in Westminster will impact greatly on the next Brexit related developments. Whether or not an orderly withdrawal for the UK from the EU is still possible depends heavily on the willingness on all sides to compromise and take risks to secure a final deal.