Theresa May travels to Brussels today to formally request an extension to article 50 that would delay Brexit behind Friday next week, when the UK was supposed to leave the EU. British prime ministers have often had difficult encounters with their EU counterparts over the years, but it is hard to think of one more demeaning for the PM, or one where the power gap between the UK and the EU27 has been wider. “Humiliating” is an adjective frequently overused in political reporting, but today it is the prefect description.
As if that was not bad enough, May seems to have hamstrung her own, slender chances of getting parliament to agree a deal next week by giving an evening address to the nation in which she blamed MPs for the Brexit deadlock. You can read the full text here, and it will make quite a good case study for the Guardian’s ongoing study of the new populism. “I am on your side,” May declared, as she framed the crisis as a clash between MPs and the people. Parliament was to blame because it “has done everything possible to avoid making a choice”, claimed May, apparently oblivious to the charge that she herself is an Olympic-grade procrastinator.
Unsurprisingly, the speech has infuriated MPs. My colleagues Heather Stewart and Jessica Elgot have some of their reaction here.
And here is more.
From Labour’s David Lammy
From Labour’s Jess Phillips
More worryingly for May, her speech was also denounced by Lisa Nandy, one of the relatively few Labour MPs who (until last night, at least) had sounded open to the prospect of being persuaded to vote for May’s deal.
Some Conservatives are unhappy too. This is what the former minister, Sam Gyimah, a remain-voter who is opposed to May’s deal, told the Today programme:
I think democracy loses when a prime minister who set herself against the House of Commons and then blames MPs for doing their job.
And this is particularly worrying given she knows MPs are receiving hate mail in their inboxes. Some MPs are receiving death threats.
And Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, says May was inadvertently making the case for a second referendum.
Here is the agenda for the day.
Morning: Jeremy Corbyn holds talks in Brussels with Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, and Martin Selmayr, the European commission’s secretary general.
12.30pm (UK time): EU leaders start arriving for the EU summit.
After 6pm: Donald Tusk, the European council president, and Jean-Claude Juncker, the European commission president, are due to hold a press conference after the discussion about Brexit. Theresa May is expected to hold one too.
You can read all the latest Guardian politics articles here. Here is the Politico Europe round-up of this morning’s political news. And here is the PoliticsHome list of today’s top 10 must-reads.
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