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Not enough time for a new Conservative leader to call a general election.  About enough time for Parliament to stampede through second referendum legislation – at least, with this Speaker in place.

That, perhaps mistakenly, is our snap take on the EU’s decision to propose an extension ending on Halloween – October 31: not so much a long extension, let alone a short one, as a medium one.

As we write, it is being read as a compromise between Angela Merkel’s wish for a longer extension and Emmanuel Macron’s for a shorter one.  So much for the effortless superiority and united purpose of our EU interlocuters.

But whatever the story that lies behind it may be, it seems to us to be very bad for the Conservative Party – and for Brexit.  Suppose for a moment that Theresa May leaves Downing Street and her successor enters it just after the European elections.

He or she would be very short of time in which to turn round…what?  Perhaps a Letwin/Cooper- driven Commons that has settled – if the Withdrawal Agreement is not passed, with a customs union attached or not – on a second referendum.

This new leader would have very little time to turn the ship round – his ultimate fallback being a general election, if his party and the Commons will wear it.

This all smacks of trick rather than treat.  As for things that go bump in the night, well, it isn’t clear whether the EU wants to settle on No Deal if there is no Brexit resolution by next autumn.  But we doubt it.

Last month, Theresa May said that  “as Prime Minister I am not prepared to delay Brexit any further than 30 June”.  That would suggest that she will reject the EU’s offer today.  We’re not holding our breath.

1.15 Update: We were right. She’s accepted it.

473 comments for: Trick or treat? The Halloween extension.

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