The UK could find itself at odds with the EU over the conditions attached to the latest Brexit extension, if Boris Johnson tries to hold firm on a pledge “under no circumstances” to nominate a new European commissioner. European Council President Donald Tusk has confirmed that EU27 countries had accepted the UK’s request for a “flextension” until January 31, 2020.
Ursula von der Leyen said that if the UK’s EU membership was extended beyond the October 31, then she would request a British candidate. EU ambassadors agreed the details of the UK’s extension quickly on Monday morning, and are not thought to have made any amendments to the draft text.
In his letter to Donald Tusk following the decision on the latest Brexit delay, the prime minister does not address the issue. “While we will of course not seek to deliberately disrupt the EU’s business, I must underline that I continue to have a responsibility as Prime Minister to protect the UK’s national interests during this period, including in EU decision-making,” Johnson writes.
Boris Johnson has not proposed any names to replace the UK’s outgoing Commission member, Sir Julian King – who was sent to Brussels in the wake of the 2016 referendum. If the UK leaves the EU on January 31 or earlier, and the UK nominates a candidate – the tenure of Sir Julian’s replacement might end up being one of the most short-lived for a top EU job.