Anti-Cummings MP Pressures Boris to Delay Brexit After Eurocrat Makes Fresh Demand for Extension

Chief EU negotiator for Brexit, Michel Barnier addresses a press conference at the end of a general affairs council on Article 50 negotiations with the United Kingdom at the Euroepan Commission in Brussels on March 19, 2019. (Photo by EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFP) (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)
EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty

The EU’s trade negotiator Michel Barnier has launched a fresh offer to extend the transition period by two years in response to requests from British Opposition MPs including Scottish separatist Ian Blackford, who has recently put pressure on the prime minister to sack Dominic Cummings over alleged lockdown breaches.

Responding to a letter from May 15th from Blackford’s Scottish National Party (SNP), the Liberal Democrats, the Welsh separatist Plaid Cymru, and other fringe Europhile groups, Mr Barnier wrote: “Such an extension of up to one or two years can be agreed jointly by the two parties.

“The European Union has always said that we remain open on this matter. Any extension decision has to be taken by the Joint Committee before July 1, and must be accompanied by an agreement on a financial contribution by the United Kingdom.”

Mr Blackford, who is the Westminster leader for the SNP, pressured Prime Minister Boris Johnson to accept a delay to the UK leaving the EU’s institutions which would also prevent the implementation of any new trade deals.

He tweeted on Wednesday that Mr Johnson, who has an 80-seat majority built on his pledge to deliver on the 2016 vote to leave the European Union, must “agree an extension to prevent another crisis”.

Blackford, an EU loyalist, has also put pressure on Johnson to fire his senior adviser and Vote Leave alumnus Dominic Cummings over alleged infringements of the coronavirus lockdown laws when he travelled to Durham to secure backup childcare with family in case he and his wife were incapacitated with the Chinese virus.

In response to Mr Cummings defending his decisions and lambasting the establishment media for spreading “false” stories, Mr Blackford claimed that “the prime minister has no option but to sack Mr Cummings. His failure to do so so far is a gross failure of leadership.” In his criticism, Mr Blackford did not take the time to note his own lockdown-busting long-distance travel, with a 600-mile journey from London to a remote island where he owns property, despite having a London home subsidised by the British taxpayer.

The timing of the demands for Cummings — regarded as a key instrument in ensuring that the will of the people is carried out with a full and proper Brexit — to be fired, the media witch-hunt, and the interactions between the Europhile MPs and Mr Barnier is suspect, however.

The Telegraph reported on May 12th — three days before Blackford and colleagues wrote to Barnier to seek an extension — that while Mr Johnson and Mr Cummings were ill with coronavirus, they had been working to fight off a plan “concocted by underlings”, according to journalist Jeremy Warner, “to extend the transition” which had been “all but agreed at official level”.

“The EU was to have spared the UK’s blushes by proposing it, rather than the other way around. This would have allowed the UK government to present the concession as a favour to the EU, rather than a climbdown,” Mr Warner wrote.

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage had warned this week that Remainers would try to use the fabricated scandal as an excuse to delay Brexit.

Mr Barnier’s ‘offer’ came amidst robust calls from the UK’s chief negotiator David Frost for the EU to “evolve” its position in trade talks.

Mr Frost, who recently wrote to Barnier to tell him that the UK would not accept the EU’s “low quality” trade deal, said on Wednesday: “Our view at the moment is that mandate, at least in key areas, is not a mandate that is likely to produce an agreement.”

“So if you are asking do we think the EU needs to evolve its position to reach an agreement, yes we do,” he added.

In response to the Eurocrat’s letter, Prime Minister Johnson’s spokesman said: “There is no change to the government’s position. The transition period will end on December 31.”

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