Brexit BREAKTHROUGH: EU dynamics show significant shift – 'REAL story to look out for'

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Iain Anderson, an expert in global political risk, said the “real story” to have emerged following the European Union’s decision to add a six-month delay to Brexit, is the bloc’s newfound willingness to reopen Brexit talks. Speaking on the BBC’s Brexicast podcast on Thursday evening, Mr Anderson said: “I think we are going into these European elections – that’s my calculation at the minute. But that this bespoke idea – it is being talked about in the UK it is clearly also being talked about in Brussels right now – frankly, we have entered a new dynamic.

“As Katya said earlier, people are sort of focussing on Macron versus Merkel, I think that’s a Government completely right. It is a total sideshow.

“The real story that has just emerged in the past 20 hours or so, since the early hours of this morning, is this possibility of the whole thing being opened up again.”

When asked by BBC Europe editor Katya Adler whether he was referring to both the withdrawal agreement and backstop, Mr Anderson replied: “Very possibly. Whispered tones about that starting to emerge.”

But the BBC Brussels correspondent Adam Fleming insisted “they are whispering because it is not going to happen”.

Ms Adler continued: “I cannot imagine that EU countries would say ‘forget it, we don’t want to talk about it’.”

The public affairs consultant insisted Ms Adler was “exactly right” in saying the EU could reopen talks. But she continued and said the EU will demand “realistic and workable proposals”, adding: “That’s not, for example, the Malthouse Compromise.”

Mr Anderson replied: “I am getting in front of a whole bunch of folk right now and I’ve seen more movement and possibilities in the past week to ten days than I think we have seen in the last two years.”

But BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg insisted there is unlikely to be an agreement reached between the Tories and Labour, which would open the door to a Brexit renegotiation.

Ms Kuenssberg said: “That’s really interesting because at the moment, talking to people who have been involved in the cross-party talks, I just find it really hard to see how they are ever going to get there.

“Someone who has been in the talks said ‘the thing is, the more we talk, the more it reveals how big the scale of the task is’.

“Because it wouldn’t just be about getting the withdrawal agreement through.”

Prime Minister Theresa May has vowed to launch a fresh attempt to win Commons backing for her Withdrawal Agreement shortly after Easter as she continues cross-party talks with Labour. 

Addressing MPs on Thursday, Mrs May said: “Let us then resolve to find a way through this impasse so that we can leave the European Union with a deal as soon as possible.”

She added: “This is our national duty as elected members of this House – and nothing today is more pressing or more vital.”

Her appeal to MPs to put patriotism before party allegiances came as she updated the Commons on Wednesday night’s marathon seven-hour EU summit talks that rubber-stamped a flexible extension of the Article 50 EU exit process until October 31 at the latest.

But veteran politician Sir William Cash, chairman of the European Scrutiny Committee, accused the Prime Minister of an “abject surrender” to Brussels as he urged her to quit.

He claimed the delay undermined democracy and “our right to govern ourselves”, adding: “Would she resign?”

In response, Mrs May laughed and said: “I think he knows the answer to that!”

It was agreed among EU leaders that Brexit would be delayed until October 31 following a heated summit in Brussels on Wednesday evening.

After hours of debate, EU leaders agreed Brexit will now be delayed until October 31 with a review to happen at the June 21 European Council summit.

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