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Could the European Commission cease to function on November 1st?

© Dimitris Vetsikas

This week didn’t go well for the Prime Minister after a defeat in Parliament that forced through legislation requiring the government to extend Article 50, however, Johnson may have a new plan in the works.

After a vote for an election was also rejected by a majority in Parliament, Boris Johnson is looking increasingly isolated, and without a majority, passing legislation has become impossible without opposition support. However, when it comes to Britain’s membership of the European Union, there’s a different set of rules, and it is reported that Johnson may be considering to force the EU to kick Britain out.

In order for the European Commission to be legally constituted on November 1st, it will need a commissioner representing each member state. The Prime Minster may refuse to provide a representative for Britain, which means the European Commission could not function as it has to have all 28 to legally constitute itself.

The Commission however could simply try to go around this by passing new legislation that makes it possible to function with only 27 but the UK will use its veto. This would mean the EU could not function and the Commission would be blocked indefinitely.

This is considered a highly destructive option that could badly damage relations, but it could be the leverage Johnson needs to force the EU to accept the 31st October as Britain’s departure date. This means that Johnson, who is now legally bound to ask for an extension, could receive a rejection from the EU after his formal request.

If the EU rejects Article 50 being extended beyond October 31st, then Britain would leave the European Union without a deal. This would need the support of another EU member state to block Britain’s request for any extension. A number of countries may be warming to this idea. France has been keen to move on beyond Brexit, and it may win the support of other members like Italy or Hungary.

Could the EU choose to reject Britain’s request?