The five things you need to know about politics today

So, the long game looks on. EU chief Donald Tusk plans to offer the UK a 12-month “flextension” to our Brexit date, senior Brussels sources have told the BBC. Spring 2020 - nearly FOUR YEARS after 17 million people voted to Leave - is the new deadline for getting out. Under the Tusk plan, we could leave sooner, if Parliament ratifies a ‘divorce’ deal. Given that no side wants to be blamed for no-deal chaos, it’s likely the EU27 will endorse the plan at its summit next Wednesday. Brextra Time, here we come.

As she set out this morning, Theresa May will go to Brussels next week and request a short extension, only to be effectively forced to beg for a longer one. If she needs it, she already has senior Brexiteer buy-in for the flexibility of a year-long delay. Attorney General Geoffrey Cox has told Nick Robinson’s Political Thinking podcast that any extension is “likely to be a long one”. Reminder: the UK is due to leave the EU on 12 April and, as yet, no withdrawal deal has been approved by MPs.

The PM’s letter to Tusk sets out that her preference is for an extension to June 30. As well as trying to bind Labour to this delay, she also knows that this is pure window dressing to placate her party. The EU won’t agree to the short delay and May isn’t stupid. She wants to be forced into a year-long ‘flextension’ to avoid total revolt. It feels like a naked attempt to avoid resignations and buy time once more.

A minority of Eurosceptics would rather have a long pause than see May’s deal approved. They hope that May will soon step down, to be replaced by a tougher leader who can use the extra time to demand a better deal. But there are others who think that a serious delay will spark such anger among their grassroots that now is the time to put down a marker. Ahead of next Tuesday, when the PM is expected to tell Parliament her next steps, the pressure will build for several ministers to quit in disgust.

May set out she was making the order needed to let Britain contest the European Parliament elections (a natural consequence of a long delay). That is certainly unpalatable to many Tory Brexiteers. The Times says the ‘pizza club’ of Andrea Leadsom, Gavin Williamson, Liz Truss, Chris Grayling and Michael Gove are plotting to stop the MEP embarrassment, while the Telegraph says some have discussed a ‘mass walkout’. With the Sunday papers sure to be stuffed with leadership positioning, it’s not clear how big that ‘mass’ really will be, or whether it will make blind bit of difference to May’s plan.

Thanks to the indoor April shower in the Commons yesterday (see below), the earliest any serious proposals on Brexit can be voted on by MPs is Tuesday. And aside from the extension explosion from Brexiteers, the key things to watch for will be whether she accepts to be bound by a Commons majority for a customs union, or a second referendum.

The four and a half hours of talks between Labour and Tory ministers yesterday didn’t yield any major breakthrough, but the fact that they are still reconvening today suggests something is in play. Any talks involving David Lidington will be genuine, but Labour is still wary that this is all a trap to buy the PM time and share the blame for the Brextra Time narrative.

Labour MPs Rupa Huq had a one-on-one with May yesterday and emerged to say that in fact the People’s Vote idea was still loathed by the PM. However, some kind of customs union or customs arrangement was keenly discussed by May. The Times says Lidington and his team told Labour the current Withdrawal Agreement included a customs union in all but name, yet that really won’t fly with Keir Starmer’s team. Let’s see if anything emerges today. One thing is for sure, Corbyn can’t act without the PLP’s approval and he’s not going to get that properly until their meeting on Monday night.

In our Commons People podcast, Labour’s Lucy Powell suggests that a second referendum isn’t a real runner and both May and Corbyn know it. She also floated the intriguing idea of the Chequers plan for a customs union on goods being revived.

The sight and sound of water pouring down from the Press Gallery into the Commons chamber was truly shocking. Yes, it brought home just how dilapidated our crumbling Houses of Parliament really are. But the whole incident also laid bare just how antiquated our procedures are too. The fact that the main chamber was suspended for emergency repairs also meant that the entire day’s business had to stop.

With the Commons not sitting today, last night was the deadline for any motions for Monday. So any hope of indicative votes was lost until Tuesday. The fact that the table office was unaffected by the leak made no difference. Uri Geller felt he could troll Westminster, claiming he had bent the pipes and wouldn’t apologise for it. I think he hadn’t quite realised he had delayed a delay to Brexit.

Speaking of leaks, the Guardian has a cracking exclusive on the government’s white paper plans to crack down on online harm. Social media firms will face tough new sanctions over distribution of material exploited by terrorists, child abusers and suicide and self-harm sites. As ever, the Tory leadership race hovers over this. Sajid Javid and Jeremy Wright, who had teed up the Sunday papers with this story, are hopping mad and suspicions swirl that Matt Hancock, the former Digital Secretary, jumped the gun. That will be vigorously denied by Team Hancock (Jeremy Hunt’s main challenger for the ‘centre right’ mantle in the leader race). But some claim Hancock had previously, privately signalled he backed tech firms when some campaigners demanded age restrictions on content.

A few people (and babies and pets) are still coming to terms with the clocks change to summertime. Watch this guy lose it as he struggles with his car clock.

It’s official, the Prime Minister hasn’t a clue about popular (or unpopular) culture. She was asked yesterday if she watched the BBC’s brilliant Fleabag and replied she’d never heard of it. Oh, and she hasn’t even watched Bodyguard (about a Home Secretary’s close protection officer, ma’am). Now, we all know David Cameron spent perhaps a bit too much time on his Game of Thrones boxsets, but maybe we’d all benefit if the PM chillaxed a bit more. And don’t tell me Fleabag can’t appeal to older audiences. Kristen Scott Thomas (who did a wonderful cameo on the show recently) is 58. Just four years younger than T May.

The Newport West by-election result saw Labour’s Ruth Jones replace the late Paul Flynn as the MP. In this Leave-voting seat, everyone was looking for clues about voter reaction the Brexit delays. Labour’s majority was (unsurprisingly for a by-election) reduced, but so was its vote share. The Tory candidate Matthew Evans said he had feared wipeout by UKIP, and as many locals stayed at home, the Kippers’ vote share leapt to 8%. Evans spoke for many when he told BBC Wales: “Whether they voted Leave or Remain people want clarity and they deserve that clarity. Hopefully this issue will be resolved shortly.”

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