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Obviously it's not certain one way or another, but my view would be that time is now on the EU's side. Ongoing uncertainty hurts the UK economy more than the EU and if the UK economy hits a wall huge additional pressure will come on the UK government.

The EU has already said it will not extend A.50 simply to extend current negotiations. It would be illogical for it to do so as it's position is that the Withdrawal Agreement is not open for re-negotiation.

However NOT extending means almost certain immediate no-deal Brexit which is its least preferred option and any extension increases the chances of Brexit not happening after all, so it does have a strong incentive to find some pretext for extension.

So ideally an extension would be granted where there is a second referendum or a general election in prospect and it's length would be determined by however long it takes for that process to be completed - perhaps 3-6 months.

I know there has been some talk of a 1-2 year extension but that seems to have been mainly to put the wind up Brexiteers that Brexit may never happen unless they agree to May's deal.

Ultimately it's up to the UK to request an extension and to state how long they want it for. But the EU is within its rights to ask "what for?" and to place some conditions on granting it.

In my view the very act of asking for an extension is an instance of Britain blinking and accepting it needs to have a rethink on the whole thing. The EU can be quite clear that granting an extension is conditional on accepting the existing deal or coming up with a radically new plan acceptable to the EU.

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Feb 28th, 2019 at 11:51:01 AM EST
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