Tuesday

19th Nov 2019

Agenda

Crunch Brexit vote in UK This WEEK

  • London: British MPs rejected previous Brexit deal three times (Photo: Dun.can)

The future of Brexit continues to hang in the balance this week, with a crunch vote in Westminster on Saturday (19 October).

If British prime minister Boris Johnson fails to get his new Brexit deal through parliament, then the UK will either crash out of Europe with no legal safety net at the end of the month or be forced to seek another extension to the deadline.

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The opposition Labour Party, some rebels in Johnson's own Conservative Party, as well as his former Northern Irish allies, the Democratic Unionist Party, have already said they would vote no, putting him short of a majority.

"From what we know, it seems the prime minister has negotiated an even worse deal than Theresa May's," Labour leader Jeremy Corby said, referring to former British prime minister Theresa May.

Her Brexit deal, which was not that different, was rejected by Westminster three times before she was herself ejected from her post.

But the UK is not the only one in Europe to dither on important legislation.

For its part, the Finnish EU presidency aims to revive talks on an anti-discrimination bill to help defend minorities in Europe.

"Women, persons with disabilities, LGTBI people, ethnic minorities, including Roma and immigrants, and poor people are considered to run the highest risk of being discriminated against," the EU Council said in a preparatory memo to a meeting of employment and social affairs ministers in Luxembourg on Thursday.

But the landmark EU bill, first tabled in 2008, has failed to get unanimous support from member states "despite the efforts of more than 20 presidencies", the memo noted.

Normal business aside, MEPs will be wondering whom Croatia, France, and Romania might put forward in the coming days as their European Commission nominees.

The new candidates are needed after the European Parliament rejected those three states' initial picks due to financial improprieties.

Speculation at the EU summit last Thursday and Friday said France might pick the EU's Brexit negotiator and former French politician Michel Barnier to do the job.

But whatever names pop out of the that, it will be too late to for MEPs to vote on the new commission team as originally planned, on Wednesday, or for the new 'college' of commissioners to take up office on 1 November.

The nominations hiatus will leave MEPs to take care of day-to-day business, such as a debate on Monday on the effects of the collapse of Thomas Cook, a British holiday firm which left 600,000 Europeans stranded round the world when it bust.

MEPs will also discuss Turkey's invasion of Syria on Wednesday and vote on next year's EU budget the same day.

Further afield, the EU's foreign relations chief, Federica Mogherini, will also travel to Japan for the coronation of its new emperor on Tuesday.

But her global diplomacy comes as the EU struggles to painting its credibility on foreign policy after a French veto torpedoed Western Balkans enlargement plans last week.

French EU nominee loses vote and is out

France's nominee for EU commissioner lost the vote on her candidacy, with 82 MEPs against and 29 in favour, after hard questions in a second hearing.

Key moments for new commission This WEEK

MEPs will decide on Monday if they want the Hungarian commissioner-designate to come back for a second hearing, as commission president-elect Ursula von der Leyen hopes to finally take office on 1 December.

Brexit delay rolls into This WEEK

Westminster will vote on a possible election, while EU ambassadors will reconvene to decide on the length of a Brexit extension. The awkward Brexit tango continues.

News in Brief

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  3. ECJ: Poland's judicial independence in doubt
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  5. European populists more favourable to Russia
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