May’s plan, with a majority in Parliament of 500-20, is to hold a second Meaningful Vote on the Withdrawal Agreement plus her improvements on 12 March.
LONDON: Following the referendum in 2016, the UK was exuberant at the thought of its new independence from the European Union. Nearly three years later that mood has turned sour. Prime Minister Theresa May with her total lack of authority has managed to divide not only her own party but the opposition. The nation is exhausted by Brexit and largely resents how long it has taken to get to where we are.
Some committed Brexiteers, who are weary of the uncertainty, will now accept any deal just to get it over with and move on. Then there are the Brexiteers who find May’s deal that attaches UK to a single market worse than staying in the EU. These folks say the EU will inevitably change shape and it would be preferable for Britain to have a stake in the redesign. Other Brexiteers will likely cause civil unrest if May succeeds in taking away the “No Deal” option.
On the back of Labour’s, at the time, indecisive Brexit policy and epidemic anti-Semitism, a group of eight Labour MPs resigned and began a new notional party called The Independent Group (TIG), derisorily known as the TIGgers, whose modus operandi is a replay of the referendum. Three Conservative MPs have also had the misplaced confidence to scupper their careers and join the TIG, these three are former-Conservative Remainers who want a “No Deal” off the table at any cost.
Theresa May’s plan, with a majority in Parliament of 500-20, is to hold a second Meaningful Vote on the Withdrawal Agreement plus her improvements on 12 March. If this passes, UK leaves the EU on 29 March, with that approved deal. Should that vote fail, another vote on No Deal is scheduled for the following day, 13 March. If No Deal gets a majority, UK leaves on 29 March with No Deal; if No Deal fails, a vote on extending Article 50 is scheduled for 14 March. Should that fail, UK leaves with No Deal on 29 March. If the extension gets a majority, May has to return to the EU asking for an extension. This timetable reflects the effort No10, most civil servants and Remainers, are going to block leaving with No Deal (the best value option for UK).
The House of Commons rejected Labour’s Amendment to adopt a permanent customs union with the EU (remain in the EU). Labour now backs a second referendum, which is contrary to their manifesto, whence they pledged to honour the 2016 result.
However, two positive steps towards Brexit occurred this week. First the WTO members confirmed that the UK can join the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) as an independent member, enabling British businesses to bid for contracts worth up to £1.7 trillion per annum. Australia has just joined the GPA and China hopes to soon. This heralds a significant step towards an independent trade policy.
Secondly, MP Alberto Costa’s brave Amendment to secure a joint UK-EU reciprocal rights commitment was passed with honours by the Commons. This protects the rights of three milion EU citizens in the UK and one million citizens in the EU. Alas, the UK’s immigration phobic Prime Minister expected Costa’s resignation as a result of him tabling the Bill; Costa has no regrets. A second resignation has come from George Eustice, the Agriculture Minister. Fearing that the EU will dictate the final terms of any Brexit deal, Eustice wants to be free to vote against extending Article 50, should this become necessary on 14 March. That so many personal principals are so different from the Prime Minister’s is an abnormal situation.