May to Head to Berlin AND Paris to Beg for Brexit Extension

Brexit
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Theresa May is due to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin and French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Tuesday in a bid to delay Brexit.

As a result, Mrs May has cancelled her usual Tuesday Cabinet meeting ahead of the hectic day of negotiations.

The prime minister is scheduled to meet Mrs Merkel first in Berlin around midday before travelling to Paris to meet the French president for a “work meeting” on Tuesday evening ahead of the EU summit in Brussels on Wednesday, in which EU leaders will decide whether to grant the UK an extension to the current departure date, reports The Guardian.

Mr Macron has previously spoken out against offering the British a Brexit extension, stating that the UK must provide a “credible alternative plan backed by a majority” to avoid a No Deal Brexit.

Mrs Merkel is believed to be more sympathetic to an extension, however — and while President Macron has talked tough on extending the UK’s departure date, it is unlikely that any individual leader will block the extension, which must be agreed on unanimously.

At present, the United Kingdom is due to leave the EU on Friday April 12th on No Deal terms if an extension cannot be secured; however, the prime minister is hopeful of agreeing terms to extend the leaving date until June 30th.

The move comes as Mrs May continues negotiations with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn over a deal his party can support through the House of Commons.

Her decision to meet with the Labour leader has caused considerable controversy within her own party, with head of the pro-Brexit European Research Group (ERG) Jacob Rees-Mogg saying the move “risks giving a degree of credibility” to Mr Corbyn.

There are serious concerns that the prime minister’s deal with Mr Corbyn will hinge on the UK remaining in a customs union with the EU, which would go against the Conservative election manifesto and was one of Mrs May’s infamous “red lines” in negotiations with Brussels.

Former Foreign Secretary and senior Brexiteer Boris Johnson said of the proposals that they would “not only mean repudiating a manifesto pledge, and tearing up a promise made thousands of times in Parliament and elsewhere,” but “make a total and utter nonsense of the referendum result.”

Remaining in a customs union with the EU is a nightmare scenario for many as it would leave the UK unable to negotiate independent trade deals and leave the country at the mercy of EU regulations and third country trade agreements with no say in forming them.

Mr Johnson said: “It would mean that the British government could neither cut tariffs on food from sub-Saharan Africa, nor protect British manufacturers from dumped or underpriced goods. It would be a big step to economic serfdom.”

In response to Mrs May’s negotiations with Mr Corbyn and repeated requests for delays to Brexit, which was supposed to take place on March 29th, many in her own party have lost confidence in her leadership.

Earlier today, pro-Brexit MP Mark Francois wrote to Sir Graham Brady, the head of the 1922 committee of Conservative backbenchers, to request a vote of no confidence in Mrs May’s leadership. He was quoted as saying, “I believe May has been a failure as Leader of our Party, which she now threatens to destroy. Hers is a classic example of hubris – and after hubris, comes nemesis.”

Any vote of no confidence would be informal as under party rules, a no-confidence vote cannot be triggered more than once in 12 months. Theresa May survived a previous vote of no-confidence from her party in December 2018.

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