What’s Happening with Brexit?
Following the defeat of PM May’s withdrawal deal, British Parliamentarians took command of the Brexit agenda from the Conservative Government for 24 hours, in an unprecedented attempt to come up with a breakthrough for Britain’s much-anticipated departure from the European Union.
On Wednesday 27th March 2019 Members of Parliament had the opportunity to vote on an array of Brexit alternatives, which allowed lawmakers to demonstrate whether they can agree on a deal which would establish a close relationship between the EU and the UK.
With the June 2016 UK referendum vote to leave the EU approaching 3 years since it was passed, uncertainty still circulates around the Brexit outcome, with Parliament tearing itself apart from the inside.
Theresa May’s Conservative Government was beaten by 329 votes to 302 on the amendment that saw a number of votes on Wednesday 27th which should have outlined the overall sway of the UK Parliament regarding the Brexit situation.
On Monday 25th of March Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May said: “First of all we don’t know what the options are going to be that will be tabled. Secondly, we don’t know what will be selected, but there’s another point, I think it is important that no one would support an option which contradicted the manifesto on which they stood for election to this house. The MPs elected here to this house at this time have a duty to respect the result of the referendum that took place in 2016 and attempts to stop that result of that referendum being put into place or attempts to change that result of that referendum are not respecting the voters and not respecting our democracy.”
Watch the full debate from Parliament here.
Three Conservative Ministers, Steve Brine, Alistair Burt and Richard Harrington resigned claiming that the Government is disregarding the livelihood of the British public.
In a letter of resignation, Richard Harrington, the Minister for Business and Industry from 2017 until now, said:
“At this critical moment in our country’s history, I regret that the government’s approach to Brexit is playing roulette with the lives and livelihoods of the vast majority of people in this country who are employed by or otherwise depend on businesses for their livelihood. Further, as the UK’s Industry Minister the clear message I have been receiving from the business community is that the failure to secure a deal and to rule out a hard Brexit is resulting in cancelled investment decisions, business being placed around and a sense of ridicule for British business, across the world. […] In the event of a no deal Brexit actually happening, there would be widespread and long-standing implications for everyone. The economy may take five to ten years to adjust to the new reality, during which time jobs would be lost and livelihoods ruined. […] I have therefore decided that I resign from the government to do all I can to prevent this from happening and will work with other concerned colleagues in these efforts.”
Read the full letter here.
Following the votes, the British pound rose but investors are still left in the dark as to whether the UK will finally leave the EU or not, and on what conditions.
A week ago, the European Union granted a delay for the initial March 29th withdrawal deadline, so as it stands, should the Prime Minister’s deal be accepted Britain will depart from the bloc on the 22nd of May. However, if the deal is thwarted for the third time then the UK will need to set out its proposal by the 12th of April.
“Today I received a letter from Prime Minister May, in which she addresses the European Council with two requests: to approve the so-called Strasbourg agreement between the UK and the European Commission, and to extend the Article 50 period until 30 June 2019. Just now I had a phone call with Prime Minister May about these proposals. […] Even if the hope for a final success may seem frail, even illusory, and although Brexit fatigue is increasingly visible and justified, we cannot give up seeking – until the very last moment – a positive solution, of course without opening up the Withdrawal Agreement. We have reacted with patience and goodwill to numerous turns of events, and I am confident that, also now, we will not lack the same patience and goodwill, at this most critical point in this process.”
How could indicative votes help?
Indicative votes are votes that seek to gauge the consensus of Parliament. With regards to the Brexit situation, some MPs suggest it could bring about a solution to the problem.
Normally the daily schedule is dictated by the government, however, on Monday MPs supported a plan by various lawmakers to seize command of what goes on in Parliament for a day.
What are the proposals for the indicative votes?
- Departing with a no-deal from the EU.
- A free-trade deal like the one Canada has.
- Proposals for a closer customs union.
- A closer relationship with the EU single market.
There are two additional options that MPs could be invited to vote on. Firstly, if the general public should have the final say regarding any proposal that is passed through Parliament; and secondly, whether Brexit should be cancelled.
On March 25th PM May said: “I must confess that I am skeptical about such a process of indicative votes when we’ve tried this kind of thing in the past it has produced contradictory outcomes or no outcome at all. There is a further risk when it comes to Brexit, as the UK is only one half of the equation, and the votes could lead to an outcome that is unnegotiable with the EU. No Government could give a blank cheque to commit to an outcome without knowing what it is.”
PM May seeks help from Jeremy Corbyn
On Wednesday 3rd of April 2019, global stocks rose to the highest level for the last six months as the disputes on trade between the US and China show signs of a breakthrough and the UK’s Prime Minister, Theresa May, announces plans to suspend the withdrawal date further in efforts to find common ground with leader of the opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, who is backing a customs union agreement with the EU.
“I’m offering to sit down with the leader of the opposition and to try to agree a plan that we would both stick to, to ensure that we leave the European Union and that we do so with a deal.”
After growing anxiety, concerning the supply of oil, the price of crude oil surged upwards to $61.59 per barrel.
US-China trade negotiations are signaling a breakthrough and manufacturing figures have improved making the general outlook on the world’s economy better than before.
With the Brexit referendum vote approaching its third year it is still very unclear as to what the conditions will be regarding the UK’s departure from the European Union.
PM Theresa May’s Brexit deal has been defeated three times in Parliament. Perhaps as a last desperate resort, PM May has reached out to the leader of the Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, to try and come up with a compromise to get Brexit over the line before the European elections take place in May.
In an interview with the BBC on April 3rd, 2019, Jeremy Corbyn said:
“I want the Government to understand that the House does not support the deal that she (Theresa May) has agreed. She has got to come up, even at this very late stage, with something that is acceptable to the House which does move in the direction that I’ve said that the Labour Party wants in order to reach an agreement with the EU.”
There are members of the Labour Party that want a second referendum vote and are pushing Mr. Corbyn in that direction.
Two Conservative junior ministers resigned on April 3rd, 2019, after the Prime Minister’s decision to seek a truce with the Labour Party. Nigel Adams, the member of Parliament for Selby and Ainsty, wrote to the PM and said:
“By legitimizing and turning to Jeremy Corbyn to assist you in this crucial stage, rather than being bold, is a grave error. It is clear that we will now end up in the customs union. […] It makes no sense to leave the EU and to have a situation where our trade policy and much of our law is made in Brussels – with no say for the UK.”
The leader of the Labour Party is fighting for a relationship with the EU that includes a customs union, admission to the bloc’s single market and the continuation of EU legislation regarding employment rights.
Britain has just over a week to put forward a Brexit proposal that has won a majority through Parliament once and for all. Should a bill be passed for a further extension to the withdrawal date then it will be up to the EU lawmakers to decide whether they will accept it.
Brexit Deadline Postponed Again Until the end of October
Following discussions, between EU leaders and the UK’s Prime Minister Theresa May, that lasted for five hours in the EU headquarters of Brussels, a postponement to Brexit was offered until October 31st, 2019.
With the inability of Britain’s Parliament to agree on a proposal, the decision was made to avoid the UK crashing out of the bloc without a deal on April the 12th.
In a press announcement UK PM Theresa May, said:
“I just met with Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council where I agreed an extension to the Brexit process to the end of October at the latest. I continue to believe we need to leave the EU with a deal as soon as possible, and vitally the EU have agreed that the extension can be terminated when the withdrawal agreement has been ratified which was my key request of my fellow leaders. This means that if we’re able to pass a deal in the first three weeks of May we will not have to take part in European elections and will officially leave the EU on Saturday the 1st of June.”
Watch the announcement here.
In an EU press conference, President Donald Tusk said the following:
“This means an additional six months for the UK, during this time the course of action will be entirely in the UK’s hands. It can still ratify the withdrawal agreement in which case the extension will be terminated. This extension is as flexible as I expected and a little bit shorter than I expected but it’s still enough to find the best possible solution. Please do not waste this time.”
Quick summary of the terms and conditions of the extension
- The 12th of April deadline has been moved to the 31st of October.
- Should a deal be ratified and passed through Parliament then Britain could leave before the new deadline.
- However, unless a withdrawal agreement is ratified in Parliament before the 23rd of May, when the EU elections initiate, under EU legislation Britain will be obliged to participate in the elections or otherwise expelled from the bloc with no deal.
- The EU council has made it clear that the Withdrawal Agreement will not be renegotiated whatsoever.
The Brexit impasse continues
The referendum vote of June 2016 was passed almost three years ago and once again the deadline for the UK’s divorce from the European Union has been put off for a further six months.
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