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The reason June 30th. didn't work was because May was proposing that date without committing to participating in the EP elections, meaning the UK would be in breach of the Treaties from May 23rd. onwards. In her current proposal she concedes the UK would have to participate in the elections if it is still a member on 23rd. May, and indeed that preparations for those elections would have to start on April 12th.

So it boils down to whether EU leaders think the UK participating in the EP elections is a good idea or not. Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, previously said it would be "beyond strange" for a country leaving the EU to participate in the elections (and indeed have a say in the nomination of the next Commission). May has sought to address this concern by promising to act with "sincere cooperation" and not adopt the disruptive tactics as threatened by Rees-Mogg.

The UK's education minister Nadhim Zahawi has said that for the UK to take part would be "equivalent to a suicide note for the Conservative Party", and it seems likely that extreme Brexiteer parties would do well - mainly at the expense of the Conservatives. But would Remain and second referendum supporting parties do better than Brexiteer parties?

The EP elections could become, by default, a proxy for the the General Election and Second Referendum May is so desperate to avoid. A disastrous performance by the Conservatives would put added pressure on May to step down but would Corbyn fare much better if Remainers abandon him for the Lib Dems?

So the looming EP elections could put a lot of pressure on both leaders to resolve their differences and agree a deal, and, failing that, go some way towards demonstrating where the balance of public opinion lies.

Either way, it could be an advance on the current logjam in the HOC. I'm not sure the EU has a lot to lose by allowing this process to run its course. 30th. June is not a long time away, and if the situation is not clarified or resolved by then, the EU Council can always allow the UK to leave, one way or the other, on 30th. June, by refusing any further extension.

In some ways this is now becoming more and more like a hostage situation where the police are desperately trying to open up and maintain a line of communication with the hostage taker - firstly to buy time, and secondly to avoid the situation spiralling out of their control. At the moment the EU holds all the cards. Why play them before you have to?

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Apr 6th, 2019 at 11:55:48 PM EST
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