PLEASE do not waste this time. That was the heartfelt plea to British Prime Minister Theresa May and her country’s politicians by an exasperated European Council President Donal Tusk after the EU agreed to further postpone the final Brexit deadline for six months until October 31st next. Having twice come within days of crashing out without a deal and, with a mandate from the British Parliament that the UK should not leave the European Union without one, it is incumbent upon British politicians to start working together to get a deal over the line.
Key to this is the main opposition leader, Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn, who sat on the fence during the 2016 referendum campaign and for most of the time since, but who got the no-deal scenario taken off the table. He and his party now need to expedite constructive dialogue with Prime Minister May in order to help bring about an orderly Brexit.
This really should have been done a lot sooner. After all, Mrs May agreed the withdrawal deal with the EU-27 last November, but it was a case of the same old same old for four months after that, going around in circles, as she tried unsuccessfully to browbeat her own Parliament into agreeing to it.
With the March 29th and April 12th deadlines for leaving the EU having been extended to avoid a no-deal Brexit, the penny seems to have dropped that the British side needs to get its act together and come up with a definitive cross-party position seeing as the Prime Minister is no more in control of her own Conservative Party than she is of Parliament.
If an exit deal with the EU can be signed off on, the UK may leave sooner than the end of October and there is a school of thought that it would be better if they did go ahead of next month’s European Parliament elections so that they would not have to run them and there would be clarity for the rest of us on when the UK seats will be redistributed. However, that may be asking too much too soon, so the Brexit saga is about to become a lot more complicated than it already is.
Ironically, the person in the UK best prepared for European elections is former Ukip leader and current MEP Nigel Farage, who has formed his own Brexit Party with the aim of getting back to Brussels and causing as much disruption as they can there while Britain remains in the EU, before heading off into the sunset again to enjoy his millions.
It would be funny if it wasn’t so damn serious.