As MPs leave the Commons for their Easter break, I’m taking time out of mine to bring you my weekly report on the chaos that we call ‘the news’. Just as last week, you may be aware that we are still in the EU, despite the revised leave date of the 12th having passed on Friday. This is because earlier in the week May went back to Brussels (her Eurostar loyalty card must be overflowing with points by now) to grovel once again for just a little more time, but first, she had to make some house-calls on the way.
Illustration by Rhiannon Powell
First to find the beleaguered PM on their doorstep was German leader Angela ‘on her way out’ Merkel who Theresa dropped in to see just to be sure that she wouldn’t get in the way of the EU giving another extension. After Merkle offered no strong feelings either way she moved on to a harder nut to crack, French President Emmanuel ‘Le Roi’ Macron, the boy wonder. Macron has been publicly hostile to the UK request for more time for weeks, he is quite happy to see us crash out with no deal and would rather that happen than us lingering on and getting in the way of his grand projet to bring the EU into even further political union.
After a frosty welcome in Paris, although somehow May manages to bring the chill of the grave to any event, negotiations went on behind closed doors. However, miracle of miracles, when President and PM emerged from the Élysée Palace an agreement had been reached. But it wasn’t une promenade dans le parc for our PM as she spent the rest of the evening waiting outside the European Council meeting that would decide her fate. Yes, that’s right, the vote that was meant to allow us to ‘take back control’ has resulted in us not even being allowed in the room when decisions about our future are being made by the leaders of other countries. Ahh, democracy!
Eventually, at 1am, a decision was made. The PM would get her extension, not the short one to the end of June that she’d requested but a long one which would set the deadline as the 31st October 2019, Halloween, spooky eh? This means the UK will have to hold EU elections in May because if we don’t then they’ll throw us out on our arse on June 1st with no deal. However, in theory, we could leave at any time before Halloween if the PM manages to pass her deal in the Commons, you know the one, that deal that they keep rejecting every time she tries. And as the EU have said that her deal is closed to further alterations it sounds like that is about as likely as her still being PM by the summer.
Since the UK will be hanging around the corridors of the EU for a while longer, the Council President Donald Tusk made sure the UK agreed to a clause that essentially makes us promise to behave ourselves. No getting in the way of EU business just to mess with them, no vetoing important decisions, no talking in class and no chewing gum. And with that Theresa was sent back to tell the rest of the children in the Commons the news.
Obviously, they were not best pleased. The hard Brexit supporting MPs want her gone as they see her humiliation in Europe and her suggestion of negotiations with Jeremy Corbyn as betrayals of everything for which their party stands. The more reasonable majority of MPs are annoyed that we now must conduct EU elections but also confused as to what the PM thinks she can achieve in an extra six months that couldn’t be done in three years. And with that, they all went on holiday for a fortnight.
Meanwhile, infamous Wikileaks whistle-blower Julian Assange was finally arrested on Thursday morning, having been avoiding capture in the London Ecuadorian Embassy for seven years. Rumours are that Assange was becoming such a bad house guest, that the Ambassadors nerve finally broke and he withdrew his asylum and invited the Metropolitan Police to take him away. Assange rose to public attention after he published a number of confidential US government files detailing atrocities committed by America during the Middle Eastern Wars. His website Wikileaks has continued to release sensitive information over the years of his hiding, such as Hillary Clinton’s personal emails from her time as Secretary of State – an act that may well have lost her the election in 2016.
Now he is custody there’s a good chance he could be extradited to the US on charges of avoiding a court order, or, if as rumours suggest the investigation is reopened, to Sweden where he faces historic allegations of rape.
All very jolly as usual then.
Mind how you go…