Brexit impasse: May and Corbyn seek compromise

Theresa May has asked the EU for Brexit to be delayed until 30 June after the House of Commons fast-tracked the approval of a law that obliges the government to seek a further extension. In the meantime May hopes to negotiate a deal with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn that would presumably result in closer ties to the EU than her current deal. What options are on the table now?

Open/close all quotes
Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Only May can apply the emergency brake

For the Süddeutsche Zeitung it's a minor sensation that the House of Commons has passed a law to prevent a disorderly Brexit:

“There was actually a majority for something. It was reached against the will of government, something that hasn't happened since time immemorial. ... This means the UK exiting without a political plan, without a concept for future relations with the EU, is no longer possible. But in fact Prime Minister Theresa May now has three options: either she secures a legal orderly exit by 22 May with Labour's help, or she asks Brussels for a new extension - but would have to hold European elections. Or she stops the entire exit proceedings. This version shouldn't be dismissed offhand. Only May can revoke article 50. With her signature.”

Huffington Post Italia (IT) /

British participation in EU elections disastrous

Britain participating in the European elections would be a disastrous scenario, comments Barbara Serra, London-based presenter and correspondent for Al Jazeera, in Huffington Post Italia:

“The premise was that Britain wouldn't be taking part in the elections. But now the extension that May will ask the European leaders for at their summit on 10 April will mean precisely that for Britain. That would be disastrous for both sides. Nigel Farage, the spiritual father of Brexit, has already announced that he will mobilise the masses and send dozens of angry Brexiteers to the European Parliament. Since we must already reckon with a wave of populists, nationalists and sovereigntists from all over Europe, the prospect of a bunch of embittered British MEPs joining them is extremely worrying for the functioning of the European Union.”

Times of Malta (MT) /

Brexit a boon for tax dodgers

Columnist Rodolfo Ragonesi explains in The Times of Malta why the super-rich will benefit from Britain's departure from the EU:

“If I were a British or European billionaire pirate hiding my treasures in the British Overseas Territories, I would be most happy to see Britain leave the EU. It would be there across the channel, and in the Caribbean, safely out of the reach of the European tax regulators. … Losing his tax havens would be a billionaire's disaster. So why on earth should he give a rodent's behind about how Britain might fare out of Europe? As long as he would have his overseas territory hideaway to stash all his hidden treasure, and stay out of court away from prosecution, he is really alright, Jack!”

The Spectator (GB) /

All or nothing

Any compromise solution on Brexit will not serve Britain's long-term interests, The Spectator believes:

“Either of the 'extreme' ends of political opinion on Brexit make sense: repealing Article 50 and staying in the EU on existing terms or leaving without a deal, exiting the single market and customs union in the process. ... What doesn't make sense, on the other hand, is any option which falls between these two extremes. The 57 varieties of soft Brexit on offer all come with the same problem: they would leave us, to a greater or lesser extent, subservient to EU law without any say in how those laws are made.”

The Irish Times (IE) /

The people must be given a say

Whatever the political class in London agrees on, it should be approved by the people, The Irish Times demands:

“What's crucial now is that any deal done must be put to a second referendum, with remain as the other option. For the past two years it has been pro-remain progressives who advocated a second referendum. Now, all possible outcomes look so far away from the fantasies sold to leave voters that they need to be given the option to decide whether remain is better. ... To cancel the disastrous effects of a referendum held amid lies, hubris and law-breaking we need another one, this time with more truth.”

The Guardian (GB) /

Labour to share the blame

The prime minister's offer is insincere, The Guardian says:

“Theresa May's decision to reach out to the opposition over Brexit comes years too late. ... Despite Mrs May's talk of 'national unity to deliver the national interest', her offer is rooted in Tory partisan politics. There is no indication of any compromise that Mrs May is willing to make. The basis of the proposed negotiation is her Brexit withdrawal agreement, which has already been rejected three times by the Commons. The Labour leader has whipped his party to vote against Mrs May's deal. He would have to agree to back it now. The suspicion is that Mrs May does not want to share the glory, just the blame.”

NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

Possible in substance but politically dangerous

For NRC Handelsblad, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is running a big risk:

“Substantively an agreement is possible. Labour has never voiced serious reservations about the exit deal that May negotiated. ... But Corbyn will be weighing up the political interests. One section of his voter base doesn't want Brexit, another does. Cooperating with May will only exacerbate the dissent within Labour. If the talks fail and voters are angry about the economic damage caused by a no-deal Brexit the next time they go to the polls, May will be able to point an accusatory finger at Corbyn: she will say that unlike the great Labour leader Attlee at the start of World War II, Corbyn avoided responsibility. Back then Attlee took the risk of working together with Churchill and his Tories in the interests of the country.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

May risking a split in the Tory Party

The negotiations with Labour could change Britain fundamentally, says the Neue Zürcher Zeitung:

“This plan is a political balancing act, and in the most extreme case it could end up with Britain's party landscape looking very different in a few years' time. That Theresa May is now willing to do this shows above all how much pressure she is under. Because with this step she is taking the untypical and considerable risk of the Conservative Party splitting in two - the party that has been May's political home for decades. The acid test that Brexit is putting the party through is now being driven to the extreme by May.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

Obstinate EU is to blame

Brussels continues to insist on unacceptable terms, The Daily Telegraph complains:

“The reality is that, had the EU not cooked-up the deeply cynical hoax which is the Irish backstop, the UK would have left the EU last Friday, not only with a withdrawal deal but, given the time wasted on a non-existent problem, possibly a UK-EU free trade agreement too. … Yet, Brussels, helped by Dublin, set out to thwart the UK's referendum result, sticking to their ultra-legalistic approach to the Irish border, eschewing common sense in the face of endless expert testimony. They refuse to compromise.”