Boris Johnson's maneuver for general elections before Christmas

Following the announcement of the postponement of Brexit until January 31, 2020, and a further failure in the Commons, the British prime minister is seeking parliamentary approval for elections on December 12.

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in front of 10 Downing Street in London on October 28th. HENRY NICHOLLS / REUTERS

It was six months ago, April 10th. Late in the night, from Brussels, Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, concluded a special Brexit summit by confirming that the European Union (EU) granted a Brexit gap on 31 October 2019. He concluded with these words, the address of the British: "Please, do not waste that time! " On the morning of Monday, October 28, the Europeans again postponed the deadline, at the request of the Johnson government. The new "Brexit do or die" is expected to take place on January 31, 2020, in three months.

Read also Europe accepts Brexit postponement by 31 January 2020

This is an offset " flexible " : the UK will be able to leave the EU sooner if it is ready, and if the Johnson government succeeds in getting Westminster to finally adopt the implementing law in national law of its agreement with Brussels. From a Tweet on Monday, Donald Tusk confirmed the information. But this time in a very laconic way: "The Twenty-Seven have accepted the British request for a postponement of the flexible Brexit to 31 January 2020. The decision must be formalized by written procedure" – without the need for a special European summit.

Tiredness, on the part of the former Polish prime minister, who has long hoped that in the UK, opponents of Brexit would succeed in derailing a divorce with the EU? Probably. The Europeans fear too much a lack of agreement for having dared to sign the end of the game and refused a new postponement of Brexit in London, even if the French, in recent weeks, have multiplied martial declarations. But EU leaders, including in Berlin, can no longer British procrastination. They hope that this time the Johnson government will usefully use the time they have given it. For a final ratification of Brexit in Parliament or a general election, it does not matter.

Critics crystallize

The general election seems most likely. But nothing is easy in the Brexit country and the political and procedural path to get there turned out to be a bit odd on Monday night. Boris Johnson lost his parliamentary majority in September. The divorce agreement he signed with the Europeans in mid-October alienated him from the support of the ten elected members of the House of Commons of the DUP, the North Irish Unionist Party, who accuse him of having them. "Betrayed" providing for the establishment of customs control between the island of Ireland and the United Kingdom.


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