The chair of the European Research Group of Tory MPs, said that “if a long extension leaves us stuck in the EU we should be as difficult as possible”. He suggested: “We could veto any increase in the budget, obstruct the putative EU army and block Mr Macron’s integrationist schemes.” But a spokesperson for the European Commission suggested that the Brexiteer was irrelevant.
The spokesperson told reporters in Brussels: “This gentleman is not our interlocutor and I would say then that the principle of sincere cooperation does apply, as Prime Minister May herself makes clear in her letter.
“I would also that this is a hypothetical question because it supposes, or presupposed an extension, which is yet to be seen by our leaders.”
Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, also said: “For those in the EU who may be tempted to further extend the Brexit saga, I can only say, be careful what you wish for.”
BBC Politics Live host Andrew Neil also mocked Rees-Mogg’s threat, suggesting the Brexiteer was in “fantasyland”.
In a Tweet he wrote: “The EU will not grant us a long extension unless we agree to abstain or vote with majority on important votes.
“Macron’s ‘integrationist schemes’ apply only to Eurozone.
“There is no putative EU army. There’s barely a Germany army.
“Jake the Mogg in fantasyland?”
After last month’s summit a senior EU official said the bloc was well aware of the risk posed by Brexiteers who might be minded to deliberately cause chaos in Brussels if the UK remained.
The senior official said: “On the one hand, the UK has been behaving in accordance with the obligation of sincere cooperation until now.
“And at the same time… we do also read the British press, and we have seen some comments that maybe we should take this opportunity to break the union from the inside.”
They added: “I don’t think that will be possible, and I think any British government will understand that that’s not a promising way forward.
“We luckily have qualified majority voting on most issues these days and if we don’t, I’m sure we’d find ways of dealing with it if these things were to happen.”
READ MORE: How did we end up in this Brexit mess?
Brexit latest: Theresa May is battling to hold her Tory party together
7.05pm update: Irish Minister isn’t surprised by Mr Barnier’s Dublin visit
Ireland’s foreign affairs ministe Simon Coveney said it was not surprising that Mr Barnier would visit Dublin before the summit.
Mr Coveney told RTE News: “What he will want to do first of all is show solidarity with Ireland.
“But also I think he’ll want a detailed conversation in terms of Ireland’s perspective on the most recent ask from the Prime Minister for an exention of time.”
He added: “Ireland is of course willing to give the process more time, but we like many other EU member states will want to see a plan to go with that to show that there is a proposed way of finding a majority support in Westminster for a way forward.”
6.45pm update: Downing Street said the Government is “determined to work constructively”
A Downing Street spokesman has said the Government is “determined to work constructively” to deliver Brexit and avoid participation in the upcoming EU elections.
The spokesman said: “We have made serious proposals in talks this week, and are prepared to pursue changes to the political declaration in order to deliver a deal that is acceptable to both sides”.
“We are ready to hold further detailed discussions this weekend in order to seek any such changes in the run up to European Council.
“The Government is determined to work constructively to deliver the Brexit and avoid participation in the European Parliamentary elections.”
6.42pm update: EU chief to visit Dublin on Monday for Brexit talks
EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier will visit Dublin on Monday for Brexit talks with Irish premier Leo Varadkar, ahead of Wednesday’s emergency EU summit in Brussels.
A spokesman for the Taoiseach said: “This is part of his frequent visits to EU27 capitals.
“The aim is to take stock of developments in London as well as the ongoing planning for a possible no-deal scenario.”
Mr Barnier will also meet with Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney and Finance Minister Paschal Donohue.
Brexit news: Karmenu Vela said the bloc was hoping to maintain access to UK fishing waters
6.15pm update: Nicola Sturgeon further criticises PM
In response to Labour’s statement, the SNP leader has further criticised the PM’s attempts to get a Brexit deal.
Writing on Twitter, Ms Sturgeon wrote: “This is similar to when I met PM on Wednesday.
“She wanted to know where we could compromise, but refused to indicate any compromise she might make.
“It is a bizarre approach from someone who made great play of wanting to find consensus – and has just wasted yet more time.”
6.01pm update: Prisons Minister says Labour talks still have “quite a lot of life” left
Prisons Minister Rory Stewart told BBC Radio 4 there was “quite a lot of life” left in the process of talks with Labour.
He said: “I know that there are going to be tensions.”
But he added: “In truth the positions of the two parties are very, very close and where there’s good will it should be possible to get this done and get it done relatively quickly.”
He insisted that “of course we are prepared to compromise” on the political declaration.
5.25pm update: No deal Brexit could cause fish and chips crisis
Brussels bureaucrats could trigger a fish and chips shortage in Britain if the Government refuses to grant access to its waters, EU officials warned today.
EU officials could introduce tariffs on popular fish consumed in Britain in the event of a no deal Brexit.
They claim Britons consume more white fish than exists in British waters, with the UK relying on imports from the Continent.
An official added haddock and cod supplies are the most popular with Britons and both species will be subject to tough tariffs if Britain refuses to grant access to its waters for European fishing boats.
The tariffs could be implemented as early as April 12 if Britain leaves the bloc without a deal.
EU chiefs have branded Jacob Rees-Mogg irrelevant
5.15pm update: Shadow Brexit secretary says the Government was “not countenancing any changes”
Sir Keir Stamer, the shadow Brexit secretary said the Government was “not countenancing any changes” to the wording of the Political Declaration setting out the framework for the future UK-EU relationship.
His statement suggests that the cross-party talks have so fair failed to produce a breakthrough.
He said: “Well, we’ve had two rounds of talks and today we’ve had an exchange of correspondence with the Government.
“So far, the Government isn’t proposing any changes to the deal. In particular it’s not countenancing any changes to the actual wording of the political declaration.
“Now obviously that’s disappointing; compromise requires change. We want the talks to continue and we’ve written in those terms to the Government, but we do need change if we’re going to compromise.”
5.12pm update: Labour suggests compromise talks have broken down
A Labour Party spokesman said: “We are disappointed that the Government has not offered real change or compromise.
“We urge the Prime Minister to come forward with genuine changes to her deal in an effort to find an alternative that can win support in Parliament and bring the country together.”
4.56pm update: Two thirds of the French fear Brexit will undermine the EU
Almost two-thirds of French people fear that the EU will emerge from Brexit considerably “weakened”, a new poll has revealed.
Only 37 per cent of the 1.005 respondents said the Brussels bloc would be “stronger” after Britain’s departure.
The poll also showed growing disillusionment with Brussels.
Only 29 per cent of those interviewed said Europe was a “source of hope” while 31 per cent said it was a “source of fear”.
Some 40 per cent said it was neither.
4.25pm update: Jim Allister says the PM is ‘shredding democracy’
Jim Allister, who leads Traditional Unionist Voice, the Northern Ireland frindge party, has criticised Mrs May’s letter to the EU.
He said: “The betrayal of Brexit has taken another stride forward with Mrs May’s further grovelling plea to the EU to stay even longer.
“Democracy is being shredded by the Prime Minister.”
Brexit news: Farage has confirmed he will stand for the EU elections
4.14pm update: Irish PM says longer extension might make “more sense” than rolling cliff-edges
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has said a longer Brexit extension might make more sense than a series of short delays.
Speaking at an event in Limerick, he said: “None of us want a no-deal next week, [we] certainly don’t want it in Ireland, I know the UK doesn’t want it and Europe doesn’t want it either.
“But we also want to avoid rolling extensions where there is an extension every couple of weeks, or every couple of months, because that just adds to the uncertainty for citizens, for businesses and for farmers.
“So perhaps a longer extension might make more sense.”
4.05pm update: Norbert Roettgen responds to article 50 extension
Norbert Roettgen, head of the foreign affairs committee in the German Parliament, has said that Mrs May’s request for an extenstion until the end of June made no sense.
He said it was motivated by “domestic tactical manoeuvring”.
3.55pm update: France says UK needs to produce a Brexit plan with “clear and credible political backing”
France’s European Affairs Minister Amelie de Montchalin said any extension would require the UK to produce a Brexit plan with “clear and credible political backing”.
She told the Guardian that in the absence of such a plan “we would have to acknowledge that the UK chose to leave the EU in a disorderly manner”.
3.45pm update: Donald Tusk proposes Brexit delay of “up to one year”
Theresa May asked the EU today for a second postponement of Brexit until June 30, with the possibility of leaving earlier.
Donald Tusk has instead proposed a delay of up to one year, which could be cut short if the UK approves an EU withdrawal deal.
His proposal is said to have gained support among other EU officials.
An EU chief said: “Discussion showed wide support for Tusk’s idea of a long ‘flextension’.”
Just two weeks ago Brussels rejected a request from Mrs May for a reprieve until June 30.
Another EU diplomat said: “Accepting her request is tough for some in the EU. June 30 is as tricky as it was two weeks ago because of the sensitivities around the European Parliament elections … A long delay is a way of reducing uncertainty and avoiding constant emergency Brexit summits.”
3.32pm update: Queen told she cannot veto Brexit
The Queen will not be able to prevent Brexit legislation, even though she has the power to stop Bills from being passed by Parliament, academix experts have claimed.
Lord Pannick, QC, a Times Law columnist, wrote to The Times this week insisting the Queen’s decision to withhold her assent be “utterly without precedent.”
He said: “Given that Brexit is the most politically explosive and divisive issue of our day, the notion of involving the Queen in vetoing a Brexit bill ought to be regarded as inconceivable.”
Even though the Queen retains the power to veto any legislation, this has not been in practise since the reign of Queen Anne, who used it to veto the Scottish Militia Act in 1707.
The Queen will not be able to overrule Brexit, claim academic experts
2.53pm update: DUP leader hits out at May’s plea to Brussels
Arlene Foster said the Prime Minister’s approach had been “unsatisfactory” and “disorganised” in a statement this afternoon.
She said: “It should not have been like this.
“The United Kingdom fighting European elections almost three years after a clear majority voted to leave the EU sums up the disorganised and slapdash approach taken to negotiations by the Prime Minister.
“We want a sensible deal which protects the Union and respects the referendum result but it was foolish strategically in the negotiations to limit the UK’s leverage by removing ‘no deal’ from the table.
“The Prime Minister should not waste any extension by subcontracting the UK’s future to Jeremy Corbyn.”
Mrs Foster said Mrs May should not be “subcontracting the UK’s future to Jeremy Corbyn” by going into talks with the Labour leader.
She said: “This time should be used to get a better deal which works for every part of the United Kingdom so the entire nation can leave the European Union together.”
2.21pm update: May has put UK on ‘cliff-edge’
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has accused Theresa May of setting up “potentially another cliff-edge” with her latest Brexit delay request to the EU.
The Prime Minister has written to European Council president Donald Tusk asking him to extend the UK’s deadline for leaving the EU until June 30, with the option to leave earlier if her Withdrawal Agreement is ratified.
Currently, UK is due to leave the EU at the end of next week unless a deal can be reached after the Commons rejected the Prime Minister’s Withdrawal Agreement for the third time.
EU sources said Mr Tusk is recommending a longer postponement of one year, with a break clause in the case of earlier ratification, in a so-called “flextension” deal.
2.09pm update: Brexiteers demand no more delays
Eurosceptic Conservative MP John Redwood tweeted: “No more delays. The government should just get on with leaving the EU on 12 April. Offer a free trade agreement and go. The talks with Mr Corbyn cannot result in an outcome that honours Brexit and pleases Leave voters.”
2.02pm update: Mark Rutte responds to Brexit extension
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Friday that Britain’s request to delay Brexit until June 30 needs to be clarified before or at a summit of European leaders next week.
“Theresa May’s letter raises many questions, which need to be discussed.
“We hope for more clarity from London before next Wednesday.”
Brexit news: Nicola Sturgeon has written an open letter to EU nationals in Scotland
Shoppers across the UK are being monitored by the Government to see if they are “panic buying” in the run up to Brexit and to determine what type of contingency planning will be needed.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has paid a consumer analysis firm £34,000 to bring in “detailed household expenditure data for food and drink” every week until early May.
London-based Kantar Worldpanel who secured the deal is set to deliver the first batch of figures, which it has been working on since the contract began on March 21, to Defra this week. By studying the spending habits of shoppers, the government hopes to find out whether emergency intervention will be needed to keep supermarket shelves stocked in the case of a no-deal Brexit.
1.27pm update: Guy Verhofstadt mocks Jacob Rees-Mogg
The prominent Leave campaigner argued the UK should put up a fight against the EU in its Parliament if it is forced to remain a member of the bloc for longer than a few weeks.
But Mr Verhofstadt hit back sarcastically warning “be careful what you wish for!”.
The EU Parliament’s Brexit negotiator tweeted: “For those in the EU who may be tempted to further extend the #Brexit saga, I can only say, be careful what you wish for”.
1.21pm update: May is abandoning Tories not me – Rees-Mogg
ERG chairman Jacob Rees-Mogg said Theresa May has not abandoned him but the Conservative Party by moving towards a softer Brexit.
When asked by BBC World At One if he had been rejected by the Prime Minister, he said: “If that’s right the Prime Minister is cutting herself off not from me but 70% of Conservative voters according to polls and an even higher percentage of Conservative members.
“If that’s true it’s not that I am being abandoned it’s that the Conservative Party is being abandoned.”
12.37pm update: EU hopes for access to fishing waters
The EU’s Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Commissioner Karmenu Vela said the bloc was hoping to maintain reciprocal access to UK fishing waters after Brexit but was also preparing for the alternatives.
Mr Vela told a news conference: “In case of a no-deal Brexit, EU fishing vessels would have to leave UK waters and UK vessels would have to leave EU waters. This would have significant negative economic consequences on the part of the EU fleet, which depends on access to UK waters.”
“Obviously, even on the part of the UK fleet fishing in EU waters.”
Vela said the European Commission would authorise state aid by EU states to their companies cut off from UK waters. He said the EU and UK could also decide to keep access open to fishing waters even after a no-deal Brexit.
The impact of Brexit on the fishing industry is particularly sensitive for EU states like France, Ireland and Denmark.
Fishermen from the other EU states fish more in the UK waters than the other way around, a point often raised by Brexit backers in Britain.
But the EU says most of the UK’s exports of processed fish products go to continental Europe. The bloc wants to allow for both these factors in any fishing deal with the UK after Brexit to increase its leverage where Britain could otherwise have a much stronger hand.
Brexit latest: May has written to Tusk to request for a Brexit extension
12.31pm update: Farage confirms he will stand in EU elections
Nigel Farage has announced that he will stand in the European Parliament elections next month for his new Brexit Party.
The former Ukip leader said he would not, after 25 years of “endeavour”, watch British politicians “roll us over” – as he warned of a “fightback”.
He told Sky News: “I’ll be leading the Brexit Party into those European elections as it now looks certain they will happen.
“Am I happy about it? No I’m not – actually I’ve got many other things in my life I’d like to do, I thought we’d won the Brexit battle but I’m not going to after 25 years of endeavour watch British politicians roll us over.
“This is the fightback and they’re going to be very surprised by what they get.”
12pm update: Hunt says no deal Brexit is a bad outcome
He said the UK is looking to avoid a long extension
11.51am update: No reason to extend Brexit – Kurz
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said there is no reason to further extend the delay the EU has granted Britain for leaving the bloc unless facts in the country change.
He told German newspaper Straubinger Tagblatt: “We, as the European Union, have set very clear deadlines and there is no reason to further extend those deadline.
“Unless the facts in Britain change. But we have not yet reached this point.”
11.09am update: Farage set to announce he will stand for Brexit Party
LBC’s political editor Theo Usherwood tweeted: “@Nigel_Farage about to announce that he will stand for the Brexit Party in the forthcoming European elections – sources tell me.”
10.46am update: May’s letter to Tusk is attempt to pressure Corbyn
ITV’s Robert Peston posted: “By requesting a delay to “just” 30 June, @theresa_may is trolling those who want a confirmatory referendum, or people’s vote, because that delay is nowhere near long enough to accommodate a referendum. She is also trying to embarrass @jeremycorbyn into agreeing a…
“Brexit compromise before Wednesday, because if he doesn’t she will be able to accuse him of blocking a short Brexit delay to “just” 30 June and wanting to trap the UK in the EU for much longer. This is raw brutal politics
“By the way, sources close to the PM were saying yesterday that the Tusk letter didn’t need to be sent till next week – which is why many will say that sending it today, before Corbyn talks have reached any kind of conclusion, is aimed more at pressurising him into an entente (and at placating Brexiters in May’s cabinet) than at EU leaders (who already rejected 30 June as a leaving date just a few weeks ago).”
READ MORE: May’s letter to Tusk IN FULL
Brexit news: May has requested a Brexit extension in a letter to Tusk
10.27am update: Sturgen posts open letter to EU nationals in Scotland
SNP leader and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has posted an open letter to EU nationals living in Scotland to her Twitter account.
She wrote: “My open letter to every EU national living in Scotland as @scotgov sets out practical support to help you stay here. This is your home, you are welcome here, we value your contribution and we want you to stay. #StayinScotland.”
10.21am update: UK faces deadline for European elections
This is because the south-west England region would include Gibraltar, whose deadline for its own election notice is April 12.
Notices of elections in all other regions would need to be published no later than Monday April 15, according to the Electoral Commission.
10.09am update: Sterling strengthens after extension
The impact of a long Brexit delay on sterling is unclear. The pound would gain if a delay led eurosceptic MPs to back the deal Mrs May negotiated with the EU or brought about a reversal of the 2016 Brexit referendum.
But on Friday sterling stuck close to $1.31 – the middle of its trading range for most of March – and traders said the path to any resolution remained murky.
Analysts at ING said: “We favour a tortuous path to a deal leading to some eventual pound gains, with $1.2950/3000 remaining the lower end of the near term range for Cable.”
9.46am update: Jacob Rees-Mogg demands UK make EU life HELL after extension
The Brexiteer tweeted: “If a long extension leaves us stuck in the EU we should be as difficult as possible. We could veto any increase in the budget, obstruct the putative EU army and block Mr Macron’s integrationist schemes.”
9.22am update: France hits out at plans for extension
A source close to Macron said an alternative Brexit plan has to be given by the UK before the EU can grant an extension. He said London needs to provide a clear plan by Tuesday.
9.11am update: Civil servants offered counselling over Brexit
Civil servants were offered counselling – funded by the tax payer – to help them cope with the stress of Brexit, it has emerged.
Staff working mainly on “emergency preparedness in case of a no deal scenario” had access to support from specialist support workers as part of contract with Gloucester-based employee assistance firm Care First.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) spent £40,000 on counselling services for staff in London, York and Bristol, according to the BBC.
The care package ran alongside Defra’s in-house mental health services while the department made changes to its support programmes and ended on 31 January.
A Defra spokeswoman said the department was committed to the mental health, safety and well-being of its employees, and had “a range of services on offer to support staff’s mental health”.
8.57am update: May has written to EU to request extension
The letter said: “The United Kingdom proposes that this period should end on 30 June 2019.
“The government will want to agree a timetable for ratification that allows the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Union before 23 May 2019 and therefore cancel the European Parliament elections, but will continue to make responsible preparations to hold the elections should this not prove possible.”
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