Brexit delay is an Easter gift – Ayesha Hazarika

No-deal Brexiteers and Remainers seem equally excited about the opportunities afforded by a six-month delay, writes Ayesha Hazarika.

So, we’ve blagged another extension. Hit the Brexit snooze button. Lived to fight another day. But let’s get real. The new deadline of Halloween (and they say the Germans have no sense of humour...) does not solve very much. The extra time is no panacea.

If anything, it’s allowed everyone a foolish and dangerous sigh of relief. It’s back to business as usual.

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We heard the same tired old soundbites from both sides in the House of Commons chamber and MPs have been rewarded by being gifted back their Easter recess. If you want to avoid Brexit, avoid the Canary Islands for the next few weeks.

Hard Brexiteers will be intent on ousting Theresa May (Picture:AFP/Getty)Hard Brexiteers will be intent on ousting Theresa May (Picture:AFP/Getty)
Hard Brexiteers will be intent on ousting Theresa May (Picture:AFP/Getty)

This extra time off is problematic. It’s not long enough to do anything radical and is only going to make everyone double down on their entrenched positions.

May is still trying to push the deal which no one wants. Cross-party talks are now a charade. She won’t move her red lines and why would Corbyn rescue her now, when the Tory party is at breaking point and the polls have finally offered him some comfort?

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The Tory MPs of the ERG are thinking strategically for the first time in history and will focus on making May history as soon as possible so their man (oh, get real) can get cracking.

Supporters of a People’s Vote are happy as they think a delay increases its chances. And the European elections have raised a weird cheer at both ends of the Brexit spectrum – although they could get nasty.

Hard Brexiteers hope that a Farage/pro-Brexit surge will scare the bejesus out of the Tory party and pave the way for their hardline Eurosceptic God.

And the ‘revoke article 50’ brigade want to use the elections to make the big, bold, unashamed positive case for the European Union, which they feel wasn’t made during the 2016 EU referendum.

They are excited. I know people who swore they were done with politics who are now busy applying to be MEP candidates.

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It will also, of course, give The Independent Group or Centre UK (or whatever they’re called by then) as well as the smaller pro-Europe parties a big opportunity to see if they can make an electoral splash.

The particular choreography of the latest delay also provides the SNP with an opportunity which is already proving irresistible.

Sturgeon has been careful not to use Brexit to pivot into Indyref2 but it is fascinating that she is now making the argument that countries with populations similar to or less than Scotland’s were lording it over the UK. “If we become independent, we get to sit at that table enjoying the same solidarity shown to Ireland – instead of being sidelined by Westminster.”

This is double edged. She knows her SNP supporters will love it, but is smart enough to clock that many folk will translate the chaos of Brexit into Scotland breaking away and feel terror.

She has said she will reflect over the Easter recess and make a statement, but she should be careful.

She has won plaudits for her leadership on Brexit but that could change if it looks like she’s weaponising it for her own project.

For now, this second extension is an Easter gift to all sides. Everyone can carry on having their cake and eating it. Nothing has changed.

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