Brexit, Austria and elsewhere

Polls conducted after Boris Johnson’s court defeat show the Conservatives maintaining the edge in Britain, as the centre-right recovers power in Austria. Guest post by Adrian Beaumont.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at The University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

On September 24, the UK Supreme Court – the highest UK court – ruled the prorogation of parliament was illegal. The Commons resumed sitting the next day. Had parliament still been prorogued, the Commons would not have sat until October 14.

I previously thought Boris Johnson could defy parliament and refuse an extension, but this path seems increasingly difficult given hostility from both parliament and the courts.  On the other hand, the crux of Johnson’s public appeal is his promise to deliver Brexit by October 31 “come what may”.

If he fails, Leave voters are likely to be terribly disillusioned, and Conservative support will drop. ComRes polling shows this, and a Survation poll found no-deal favoured over a Brexit extension by 49% to 43% if a deal could not be reached. The five polls taken since the Supreme Court decision are between a tie and a 12-point Conservative lead.

The surest way for the Commons to prevent no-deal is to vote no-confidence in Johnson, then confidence in someone else. There are suggestions a vote could occur this week, but, as I wrote in August, this is unlikely to work. A Brexit deal appears unlikely, and would have to pass the Commons.  The European Union summit will be on October 17-18, and the legislation requires Johnson to extend Brexit by October 19 if no deal is reached.

I believe Labour’s policy of not explicitly backing Remain is correct, although it is complicated by Britain’s stupid first-past-the-post system, where votes lost on one flank do not return. In this September 26 Conversation article mainly about US politics, I theorised that the Brexit referendum result, Trump’s victory and the Australian Coalition’s triumph are partly explained by the perception that opponents were too close to “inner city elites”. By having a pro-Brexit position (contrary to elite opinion) at the June 2017 election, UK Labour performed far better than expected.

Right-wing parties win Austrian election, but can they work together?

Two weeks ago, I previewed the September 29 Austrian election and three other upcoming elections.  Austria uses proportional representation with a 4% threshold.  The conservative ÖVP won 73 of the 182 seats (up 11 since October 2017), the centre-left SPÖ 41  (down 11), the far-right FPÖ 32 (down 19), the Greens 23 (re-entering parliament after a disastrous split) and the liberal NEOS 14 (up four).  It was a record vote share for the Greens and NEOS, but worst for the SPÖ.  These figures do not include left-leaning declaration votes.

To form a majority, the ÖVP will need one of the FPÖ, SPÖ or Greens to join in a coalition.  A single-member system would have produced an ÖVP landslide.

Election updates: Israel, Portugal, Poland, Canada and the US

This section gives Israeli government (non)formation updates, and poll updates for the other four countries.  Information is current at Monday afternoon.

Final September 17 Israeli election results gave the left-leaning Blue & White (B&W) 33 of 120 Knesset seats, right-wing PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud 32, the Arab Joint List 13, other right and religious parties 23, other left parties 11 and Yisrael Beiteinu 8.  Three from the Joint List did not support B&W leader Benny Gantz, so Netanyahu had a 55-54 lead, and was given the first chance to form government by the Israeli president on September 25.  With talks stalled, Netanyahu may return this mandate this week.

Right-wing parties have gained ground for the October 6 Portuguese election, but are still far behind the combined vote for left-wing parties.

The economically left-wing, but socially conservative and anti-immigrant Law and Justice party is still likely to win a second successive majority at the October 13 Polish election.

For the October 21 Canadian election, the CBC Poll Tracker gives the Conservatives a 34.0% to 33.6% lead over the Liberals, with 13.7% NDP, 10.4% Greens and 4.8% Quebec Bloc.  The Liberals lead on seats with 162 of 338, to 139 Conservative, 16 NDP, 16 Bloc and four Greens.  There was little impact from Justin Trudeau’s “brownface” scandal.

Trump’s net approval is -10.4% with all polls in the FiveThirtyEight aggregate, a small drop from -9.9% in my Conversation article.  There have not been many polls taken since the Ukraine revelations.  Trump’s approval had increased due to the economy.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

101 comments on “Brexit, Austria and elsewhere”

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  1. Tories 11 pts ahead of Lib Dems in latest UK YouGov poll, with Labour falling to third.

    Britain Elects @britainelects
    Westminster voting intention:

    CON: 34% (+1)
    LDEM: 23% (+2)
    LAB: 21% (-1)
    BREX: 12% (-1)
    GRN: 5% (-)

    via @YouGov (30 Sept – 1 Oct – my edit)

    Chgs. w/ 27 Sep

  2. From Europe Elects Twitter, two charts showing the change in Leave and Remain voters in YouGov polls from shortly after the June 2016 Brexit referendum to the latest YouGov poll.

    This is the Leave voter chart, Tories up, Labour down, UKIP to Brexit

    For Remain voters, there’s a big surge for the Lib Dems, with both Labour and the Tories down.

    Blast it, the pics don’t show up because not in “.jpg” format.

  3. Big A Adrian @ #50 Thursday, October 3rd, 2019 – 9:39 am

    The opposition just need to hold their nerve, and they will win this.

    Do you sense that the other 27 EU states will grant an extension? The ‘traitors’ among the British parliament will need to be talking with the 27 to make an extension happen. And I’m reading mixed messages from them, which may of course be mixed as a negotiating ploy or a CYA device for their domestic consumption. (But then I only read English and German.)

  4. Thanks Late Riser!

    On the EU27, I think if there was an extension request it will be granted, as Corbyn has said Labour will vote for an election once an extension is requested. An election would satisfy conditions for granting the extension.

    I don’t think either Poland or Hungary would want to be blamed for a no-deal Brexit that probably hurts the European economy.

  5. Most of the current polls, for what they are worth, are pointing to a comfortable Conservative win. I say for what they are worth because of the possibility of a significant change of circumstances by the time the GE actually happens. I still believe the most likely outcome is a GE in November or December following a no deal Brexit, and it is very difficult to predict how this might play out.

    I have seen nothing to change my view that a no deal Brexit on October 31 is still the most likely outcome. Johnson will not be asking for an extension of article 50, so the only way to bring that about would be to replace him. The opposition parties do not seem to agree on a common way forward. Even if all this fell in to place, which seems unlikely, the messages from EU countries have been very mixed; anything from no extension to a two year extension.

  6. On the European side, I noted with interest this little side note from a Guardian article:

    “EU sources said that such were the flaws in the UK’s proposals that there appeared scant chance of agreement by a crunch EU summit on 17 October. “Unfortunately we are heading for an extension,” said one diplomatic source.”

    Which suggests that in the event of a Boris’s deal falling through, the Europeans are expecting an extension.

    I think they would prefer an extension as it will pave the way for another referendum – which obviously opens the opportunity for remain, which will be their most favoured outcome.

    Matt31: I think if there is a November/December election after a no-deal brexit, then the tories will win. The public will be breathing a sigh of relief and thanking Boris for it – and without yet feeling the negative impacts of no-deal.

    However I still don’t see how this could happen – given that now a request for an extension before October 31 is now required by law. I agree that Boris won’t do this, but nor will he, when push comes to the shove, disobey the law. Currently he is bluffing, presumably banking on his opponents somehow giving way and allowing no-deal (though I can’t see how or why, and neither I expect does he). He probably genuinely believes he will find some legal loophole to circumvent the Benn Act and force a no-deal – even if has no idea how. Ultimately though he will have to face reality, and come October 19 and he still hasn’t pulled a rabbit out of the hat, and faced with the choices of 1. asking for an extension, 2. facing court or even gaol, or 3. resigning – he will have to resign. Then parliament, who is majority anti-no deal, will have 10 or so days to install a new PM to ask for the extension.

    Of course parliament could save themselves all this nonsense and simply dump Johnson now, and have a new PM in place ready to ask for the extension on October 19. I’m stil hopeful common sense will prevail and this is what will happen.

  7. I wonder also what lines of communication are open between opposition figures and EU diplomats. These are after all the people who will likely soon be negotiating directly with them. It would be prudent for them to be building a rapport now and even swap notes on how best to deal with Boris.

  8. William Bowe @ #59 Thursday, October 3rd, 2019 – 5:28 pm

    This is good: an interactive map showing every crossing point on the Northern Irish border, with a precis of its invariably eventful history.

    Thank you WIlliam. Right down the bottom I spotted a link to who are the group that compiled the data. At the bottom of their web page I read this.

    A project supported by the European Union’s PEACE IV Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body


    “I’ve always said that Brexit doesn’t end with the UK leaving, it’s just the next phase of negotiations, but if the UK were to request an extension, we would consider it. Most EU countries would only consider it for good reason, but an extension would be better than no deal,” he said.

    Varadkar, who was speaking alongside the Danish prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, said: “Our focus is on securing an agreement and getting a deal at the European council summit.

    I wondered a few days ago, who Ireland were lobbying. If Varadkar gets a few more to stand in public with him, even a lukewarm stand like this, then an extension may become more likely than a no-deal Brexit. Hmm.

  10. The UK Government have provided documentation to a Scottish court stating they intend to abide by the Benn Act and write to the EU requesting a Brexit extension if a deal cannot be agreed. However, the Government is still saying that nothing has changed and that the UK will leave on October 31, with or without a deal. This of course raises the question of how? It certainly makes me wonder whether they are confident that they have secured no votes from one or more EU countries. The other thing I am wondering about is what the process is after the Government requests an extension. Does it have to go back to Parliament, and if so, could the Government attempt to stop it from getting there? Either way, they must feel like they still have options to leave on October 31.

  11. Quote from the BBC

    A senior Downing Street source said:“The government will comply with the Benn Act, which only imposes a very specific narrow duty concerning Parliament’s letter requesting a delay – drafted by an unknown subset of MPs and pro-EU campaigners – and which can be interpreted in different ways. But the government is not prevented by the Act from doing other things that cause no delay, including other communications, private and public. People will have to wait to see how this is reconciled. The government is making its true position on delay known privately in Europe and this will become public soon.”

    So I’m imagining a letter…

    I, Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of Great Britain (and stuff), do, on behalf of the Parliament of Great Britain (and stuff), as required of me by law, recently passed against my wishes, and in simple addition to public and private communications already made to you, hereby and herein formally ask for yet another extension of (something). I also enclose, for your study, the full text of the Benn Act in order to provide you and history with the full and meaningful context of this request, and in closing wish humbly to remind my good friends in Europe of the principle that a gift not given willingly and in full knowledge of consequences is no gift at all.

    Thank you for your consideration.


    blah blah blah squiggle
    I’d-rather-be-dead-in-a-ditch, Johnson

  12. Wouldn’t it kind of be like a coup if Johnson and the Tories that are left supporting him, comply with the letter but not the spirit of the Benn Act? That is, they do what they like and take control of the agenda while giving a passing nod to the Act parliament passed?

  13. Another day, another great poll for Boris! Opinium has been very pro-Tory since Boris became PM, and this has Tories plus Brexit at 50% combined. Big slump for the Lib Dems.

    Westminster voting intention:

    CON: 38% (+2)
    LAB: 23% (-1)
    LDEM: 15% (-5)
    BREX: 12% (+1)
    GRN: 4% (+2)

    via @OpiniumResearch, 03 – 04 Oct
    Chgs. w/ 27 Sep
    6:58 am · 6 Oct 2019

  14. Michel Barnier

    “…in leaving, the UK cannot ask us to change what we are.”

    “We are a single market. That’s a complete ecosystem, with common rights, common norms, common standards, common rules, a common legal system. It requires checks at its borders.”

    Dominic Cummings

    “If we don’t get anything next week we are gone.”

    Nigel Evans

    “I don’t think for one minute that the prime minister would be willing to make such compromises but if he did he would start to lose the DUP and a very large part of the ERG.”

    No-Deal just got closer.

    EU Summit starts in: 11 days
    Benn Act deadline in: 14 days
    Brexit deadline in: 26 days

  15. I think it is becoming clearer by the day (politically) that Brexit is fundamentally about managing the Irish border. I don’t know enough about the politics of the Good Friday Agreement or the preceding Troubles, but with core EU values including free movement of people and goods, I suspect that:
    * Shared membership in the EU by the UK and Ireland provided conditions that allowed the peace process to evolve and the GFA to be crafted.
    * The EU also provided some of the political impetus to resolve the Troubles.

    To repeat what Barnier said yesterday

    “We are a single market. That’s a complete ecosystem, with common rights, common norms, common standards, common rules, a common legal system. It requires checks at its borders.”

    Since ending the free movement of people and goods into the UK are at the core of Brexit demands, and the UK is constrained by the requirements of the GFA to accommodate both:
    * A Brexit deal is unlikely, despite the fading “optimism”.
    * So the true choice is binary, between Remain or Brexit without a deal.
    * And if Brexit happens the GFA will be stressed, possibly to breaking.

  16. No-one will believe me, but when I wrote my previous comment I had not yet seen this.

    When the Good Friday agreement was negotiated in April 1998, the most painstaking and difficult negotiation I was ever involved in, Europe played a role in two ways.

    The shared future in Europe meant that the border diminished in significance.

    Tony Blair —

  17. Thanks Adrian. Remain/Leave continues to polarise.

    That leads me to speculate. The smaller (narrower?) non-governing parties can and will be more agile in picking one at the exclusion of the other. The coalition government parties (CON+DUP) don’t have much choice. Labour is the odd one out and still equivocating, though they will frame it differently. But ultimately they too will have to choose or face irrelevancy at the next GE. My guess is that Labour will pick Leave in the hope that Tories will be seen as discredited by the Brexit process. My second guess is that this will fail because the Tories will be rewarded on their single-minded toughness. But if Labour picks Remain that will fail too since (I have read) the poorer traditional Labour voters blame the EU for their troubles, want to Leave, and will simply not turn out to vote. So the least worst option for Labour is to do neither and merely lose badly. The Tories on the other hand merely need to look tough and keep a healthy stable of scapegoats to hand.


  18. Hopefully this is a sign that lib-dem remainers are beginning to understand that the only viable way of revoking article 50 is by voting labour.

  19. It really feels like the issue of the GFA and the Irish Border wasn’t publicised enough during the original referendum leadup.

  20. In any case doesnt a no-deal brexit mean a hard border by default? No-dealers should be more honest about the fact that they fully intend to tear the good friday agreement to shreds.

  21. Northern Ireland issues would likely not have changed more than a small proportion of votes outside Northern Ireland. It may have increased Remain voting by Irish people in the UK (who were eligible to vote, along with Commonwealth Citizens) and increased the Remain vote in Northern Ireland, particularly by Unionists who were disproportionately the leave voters and don`t want the customs border between Northern Ireland and Great Britain that is required for Great Britain to leave the Customs Union without a deal. It may have swung the overall result towards narrowly Remain or it may not. It may have lead to England and Wales voting differently to the UK and Gibraltar as a whole.

  22. Big A Adrian @ #74 Sunday, October 6th, 2019 – 5:53 pm

    In any case doesnt a no-deal brexit mean a hard border by default? No-dealers should be more honest about the fact that they fully intend to tear the good friday agreement to shreds.

    I think the “no-dealer” argument goes something like this.

    A Hard Border will happen only if one of either the UK or the EU creates it. Since the UK has said it won’t, then if Hard Border is created it will be the fault of the EU, not the UK. Barnier exposed the EU to that accusation yesterday. The EU will say the UK forced this. The UK will say the EU chose this. And on we go…

  23. A Couple of papers are suggesting that Boris Johnson will write a letter asking for an extension, as required under the Benn Act. However, it will be made clear to the EU that should an extension be granted, the UK would use its veto to sabotage the EU. Vetoing the 2021-27 budget was one option mentioned, as well as sending someone like Nigel Farrige to the Commission. Put simply, under this scenario, the UK would try to make the EU unworkable. This may explain the quotes in Late Riser’s post above, which referred to other means the Government has to ensure there is no delay.

    The polls are certainly creating a dilemma for Labour. Labour are still making it clear that they are not a remain party, but supporters of Brexit are ditching them. Meanwhile supporters of Brexit seem to be falling in behind Boris and the Tories. I certainly now sense a mood from these polls that a growing number of people just want to get Brexit done. I suspect after over three years, many people have numbed to hearing about the likely consequences of even a no deal Brexit.

    On the GFA and Brexit, I do expect there to be problems in Northern Ireland if a no deal Brexit occurs, as Irish Nationalists react to the reimposition of checks on the border. However, as I’ve stated previously, I also believe a backstop, and especially a Northern Ireland only backstop, would also lead to trouble, as this would be completely unacceptable to Unionists who would see it as a united Ireland through the back door. As it is, there is significant unease among Unionism regarding the proposals the DUP agreed to this week. The bottom line is, Brexit is not compatible with the Good Friday Agreement, and in some ways, the Good Friday Agreement has seriously struggled to function now for some time.

  24. Tom the first and best

    It may have lead to England and Wales voting differently to the UK and Gibraltar as a whole.

    A sentiment captured by Karel Čapek (War With The Newts) approximately a century ago and apparently still true today, “England will never bind itself to the continent. “


    Organisers estimate hundreds of thousands of Scottish independence supporters have marched through Edinburgh, with calls intensifying for a fresh vote on Scotland breaking away from the United Kingdom as a possible no-deal Brexit looms.

    Rally organisers All Under One Banner (AUOB) said more than 200,000 people — some wearing kilts and playing bagpipes — filled the Scottish capital’s winding streets, far exceeding their turnout predictions.

    And Brexit hasn’t even happened yet. So much irony.

  26. Tom the first &c:

    Northern Ireland issues would likely not have changed more than a small proportion of votes outside Northern Ireland.

    There’s plenty in England who would remember that The Troubles were not solely a “Northern Ireland issue”. Bombings in London were a regular feature.


    I suspect the number of people in England who would consider changing heir vote over it would be low. The people not wanting to avoid provoking it mainly voted Remain anyway, the we will not be dictated to by the IRA people mostly voted to leave (as did the United Ireland via Brexit chaos driving a referendum in favour of Ireland people) and the abstainers probably would have stayed home anyway.

  28. I dunno, seems to me that “two decades of peace at home” is a pretty good answer to the “what has europe done for us lately?” argument. That’d have to have given at least some Leave voters pause if it had been pushed more strongly.

  29. Another day, another great poll for Boris! Opinium has been very pro-Tory since Boris became PM, and this has Tories plus Brexit at 50% combined.

    This may explain why:

    Dr Kevin Cunningham @kevcunningham
    Opinium’s poll showing a 15 point Tory lead (in Observer/Sun/Express/Mail) over-represents: 2016 Leave Voters, Tory 2017 Voters, %Labour Leavers and %Tory Leavers.

    This is why it is (again) completely at odds with all 8 other pollsters operating in the UK.

    Dr Kevin Cunningham
    The 2017 British Election Study & results of 2016 & 2017 shows that 2017 UKGE turnout had the following composition relative to the ref.:

    45% had voted leave in 2016, 45% remain, 10% didn’t vote

    I wld be v surprised if 2019 had:
    53% voted leave in 2016, 43% remain, 4% didn’t

  30. Johnson attempts to shift blame onto the EU.

    Boris Johnson claims EU has not explained in detail why it objects to his alternative backstop plan
    This leak shifts it back.

    Leaked papers obtained by the Guardian show extent of fundamental objections Brussels has raised

    My guess is the EU has determined that Johnson isn’t genuine or isn’t capable and Johnson is preparing for November. Anything we hear now will be at the political level in preparation for a no-deal Brexit.

  31. Big A Adrian @ #86 Tuesday, October 8th, 2019 – 7:21 am

    Really good article about the bubble that the parliamentary centrist remainers live in. They simply don’t ‘get’ the mood of the public and why Johnsons and the tories have been so successful with their PR on brexit.

    It’s also a lesson Australian politics could learn.

  32. LR beat me to posting the Guardian article by a few minutes.

    Reading that, it is very hard to imagine how negotiations can progress anywhere unless Johnson decides to completely throw Northern Ireland Unionism under a bus to get a deal by agreeing to the backstop, or at the very least, taking out the Northern Ireland assembly’s ability to veto the proposals. Either way, this would trap Northern Ireland in an economic united Ireland without any say on the matter, which has been my criticism of this entire process from the start. The EU will not bend on this, so either the UK bend more than they already have or there won’t be a deal. The DUP certainly cannot move any further, they are already on the end of a serious Unionist backlash, and as I predicted here some time ago would happen if the DUP blinked, the Ulster Unionist Party-who used to be the biggest party in Northern Ireland are not missing this opportunity to take a hard line stance on the border issue.

    In other UK news, former Conservative MP Heidi Allen has joined the Liberal Democrats.

  33. Matt31, it is my glum conclusion that while Brexit negotiations will continue they are no longer about the details for a Brexit agreement between the EU and the UK. Brexit negotiations are now at other levels, both EU and the UK having accepted that November 1 is the first day of a harsher post-Brexit world. Questions will turn to blame and maybe to who benefited most, and both questions may explore actors outside the current EU28.

  34. LR: “My guess is the EU has determined that Johnson isn’t genuine or isn’t capable and Johnson is preparing for November. Anything we hear now will be at the political level in preparation for a no-deal Brexit.”

    My guess is the EU determined that from the very beginning – but are diplomatically and politically obliged to ‘go through the motions’. Privately though they are no doubt saying “what a fucking moron”.

    On a related note, a view from the conversation I found intriguing.

    Especially this part:

    “At first sight the so-called “Benn” Act looks like a formidable barrier to this strategy. This legislation requires the UK government to request a Brexit extension rather than allowing no deal to happen on October 31. However, it can be easily circumvented. The government just needs to write the letter to the EU asking for an extension as mandated in the act, but simply add a codicil which, in effect, says that the British government won’t negotiate on its final offer, even if the Brexit deadline is extended. The act requires the government to ask for an extension, not to actually get one, since this requires acceptance by the EU. That said the EU is likely to grant what will be a meaningless extension in order to prevent a no-deal Brexit on October 31.”

    Which seems to me a contradiction. On the one hand the author claims the British government can “easily circumvent” the Benn Act that requires a request for an extension. But then finishes the point by saying the EU will “likely grant what will be a meaningless extension”.

    I’m not really sure how a successful extension request can be one that is nontheless circumvented – or indeed why it would be meaningless. If Britain’s EU membership is extended to beyond October 31, how is that a “meaningless extension” (LOL!)

  35. Big A Adrian, without wanting to get too philosophical about it, meaning derives from purpose, aka goals. Maybe the authors of the piece you linked are confusing their goals with those of the EU. Put another way, the quote you posted might be boiled down to, “The Benn act isn’t a big deal and in any case the EU are powerless.”

    I think all we’re seeing is ‘going through the motions’, as you say. To paraphrase something I posted a while back, a request (for an extension) that is forced (by the Benn Act) can’t be genuine. The EU has to work with the government of the UK, not its parliament.

  36. Late Riser,

    The government is supposed to be accountable to the parliament, and enact the will of the parliament.

    I’m sure I read that somewhere. Probably the same place as all those other conventions the PM isn’t supposed to break.

  37. Ante Meridian, I think you’ve put your finger on it. There was a reason for the conventions, which may have been forgotten.

  38. @Big A Adrian

    Yes that article is indeed confusing; a Brexit extension would be far from pointless. A more likely and more dramatic approach the Government may take is the one I mentioned was suggested a couple of days ago. That is, Johnson writes a letter asking for an extension as required, but makes it very clear at the same time that the UK would use its ongoing membership to sabotage the EU, with the example given being exercising a veto on the EU’s 2021-27 budget. Either way, the Government has yesterday again made it clear that it has ways of both following the Benn Act and ensuring no Brexit delay.

  39. Two new UK polls today by less pro-Tory pollsters, but ComRes has a 6-pt gain for the Tories at the expense of the Brexit party. Next Brexit article tomorrow (would have been today but WB asked me to hold off to give his SE Qld article another day at the top).

    Britain Elects@britainelects
    Westminster voting intention:

    CON: 33% (+6)
    LAB: 27% (-)
    LDEM: 19% (-1)
    BREX: 13% (-4)

    via @ComRes
    Chgs. w/ 24 Sep

    Britain Elects @britainelects

    Westminster voting intention:

    CON: 31% (-)
    LAB: 26% (-1)
    LDEM: 20% (+1)
    BREX: 11% (-2)
    GRN: 7% (+1)

    via @BMGresearch, 01 – 04 Oct
    Chgs. w/ Sep

  40. The granting of an extension would surely draw a legion of tories into the arms of the brexit party.

    I’m also watching the lib-dem number closely. Their policy of revoking article 50 and bypass a referendum could go either way with their supporters. But just anecdotally on social media there has been a lot of anger from remainers over that policy.

  41. No 10 giving up hope of deal after deadlock in Johnson call with Merkel – live news

    They talked. Afterwards Merkel says any deal “overwhelmingly unlikely” and Johnson says a deal is “essentially impossible”. Johnson goes on to say, “If this deal dies in the next few days, then it won’t be revived … We will also make clear that [if the talks break down] this government will not negotiate further so any delay would be totally pointless. ”

    That would seem to close the book on Brexit with a deal and dramatically lessen the chances of an extension being granted to figure one out. The choices are becoming stark and immediate.

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