The future of Brexit could be decided Tuesday by the British Parliament. But it will probably not be.
MPs are expected to vote on January 15th. the Brexit withdrawal agreement, which Prime Minister Theresa May and her counterparts in the European Union negotiated in November. The vote was originally scheduled for December, but may sharply postponed when it became clear that his contract was going to turn into a crushing defeat.
Now, May's government will try again, but it does not seem like much has changed last month. The chances of getting its approval by Parliament are still dark. The withdrawal agreement – which sets out EU-UK divorce terms – remains unpopular with almost everyone, extremists Brexiteers who wish a decisive split with Europe to camp pro-Remaining who wishes to remain close to the EU.
Monday, may one last attemptt sell the agreement before the vote. She argued that, despite objections from all corners, this agreement is the only way to guarantee an orderly Brexit. "So, I tell members from all sides of this House – whatever you may have concluded earlier – over the next 24 hours, take a second look at this agreement," May told the deputies. "No, it's not perfect. And yes, it's a compromise. "
This does not seem to be enough to persuade Parliament, even if the Brexit deadline of 29 March 2019 is only two months. If the United Kingdom has not ratified a withdrawal agreement by that date, it will withdraw from the EU, with potentially catastrophic consequences, of shortages of food and medicine to major arrears at the points of entry.
If May's agreement is rejected, she will have to return to Parliament with a "plan B" – but nobody knows what it would look like at this stage. Can did not rule out possibility to extend the Brexit deadline on Tuesday, and there are signs that the EU has also could be willing to prolong the exit of Great Britain, if there seems to be another alternative to the absence of agreement.
But more time does not put the Bitterly divided United Kingdom no closer to a solution on Brexit. Members of Parliament have proposed other solutions, such as hold another referendum decide on the future of Brexit – but this only complicates the political stalemate, as alternatives have not yet been unanimously agreed.
The opposition Labor Party, for its part, declared that he will convene a censure vote to the May government if its market is badly undone. Although we do not know if the game will succeed, it could put May back into political turmoil.
At the moment, May's agreement seems about to be undone – though it is not known whether he will be extremely embarrassing, or whether he will leave his room to save the plan and attempt another vote . Be that as it may, one thing is certain: Britain is tackling more uncertainty and political chaos.
The agreement on Brexit that everyone hates, explained briefly
The May agreement on Brexit defines the terms of the UK's divorce from the European Union. It's close to 600 pages, but one of the key elements of the The agreement provides for a 21-month transition period (which can be renewed once), during which the UK will lose its decision-making power within the EU but will remain a member of the body. and will respect all its rules. During this period, the EU and the UK will also negotiate the terms of the future trade relationship, which is currently described in a brief political declaration attached to the deliberately open disengagement agreement.
Opposition to the agreement is fierce. Hard Brexiteers – those who want a clean break with the EU – see this document as a potential trap for the UK in an indefinite relationship of dependency with the bloc. Meanwhile, members of Parliament who are pro-European, or ultimately want to stay, consider that this deal weakens the UK and leaves it in a much worse economic and political situation.
The main problem of the agreement, especially for Brexiteers, is what is known as the "The Irish filet" It is essentially an insurance policy which ensures that the border between Northern Ireland (which is part of the United Kingdom) and the Republic of Ireland (which is part of the EU) remains open then that the UK and the EU are trying to negotiate their future relations.
This open border is a critical facet of the agreement of Good Friday, which ended a sectarian conflict of several decades. The current agreement aims to preserve this open border through a complex arrangement whereby the UK remains an integral part of the customs union of the European Union and Northern Ireland joins some elements of the single market, which refers to the four fundamental freedoms of the European Union: the free movement of people. , services, capital and goods.
The backstop comes into effect only if the UK and the EU can not determine their future relationship during this transition period. The United Kingdom can not unilaterally withdraw from this configuration and, given the current Brexit evolution, people are convinced that it will take years to settle. That would mean that the backstop could very well come into play. For the pro-Brexit crowd, it's a betrayal of Brexit, as it means that the UK can never really get free from the regulation of the law. ; EU.
May tried to ask the EU for a way to leave the net unilaterally. The EU was convinced that the answer is no, but also tried to give last minute assurances. In one letter sent to May on Monday, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council President Donald Tusk have stated that the EU "does not want support to come into effect".
It does not seem that this letter can do much to influence Parliament, even if the EU has been consistent – it is this agreement on Brexit, not agree on Brexit, or no Brexit at all.
Some members of Parliament still hope that the agreement can be renegotiated, although it is a somewhat misleading argument. The retraction agreement sets the conditions for divorce and the EU is still will insist on a backstop for the Irish border in any deal.
"The problem is that you still need the withdrawal agreement," said Matthias Matthijs, professor of international political economy at Johns Hopkins University. "The beauty of the political declaration, which is non-binding, is that [the UK] can practically do anything they want once out. They can be as close or as far apart as they wish. it's up to the British government to negotiate. "
The May deal looks like a defeat, but what will happen is anyone's guess
The May affair is almost certainly falling. At least 100 Conservative MPs – members of May's own party – said they voted against it.
Some British political observers believe that if the deal fails at double digits (for example, 40 or 50 votes) on a 650-member parliament, May could possibly save the deal in a second vote. However, if it is an embarrassing three-figure debate, the future of the deal – and May's political future – is at stake.
What really happens after Parliament votes against this agreement is really a conjecture There are many things to watch out for.
Something happens in Parliament
Members of Parliament can propose amendments the day of the vote, which could modify May's agreement or propose solutions in case of failure of the agreement, for example by taking measures to avoid a settlement. If the agreement is rejected, MEPs can also try to take more control on the Brexit process after May comes back to them with a "plan B", which she has to do. They may have more to say about the Brexit process – although the very divided Parliament should find a solution.
May faces censure vote – and Britain hosts general elections
It is possible that May can resign if the agreement is completely rejected. It could also face a vote of no confidence from all of Parliament. This is different from the non-trust May vote survived in Decemberwhich was strictly within his own party.
Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labor Party of the Opposition, said he's going to look for a "soon." But the gambit could be risky. Members of the Conservative Party or the Democratic Unionist Party, a party in Northern Ireland that backs May's government, would be forced to pull out. Although they may not like May's deal, they probably hate the idea that Corbyn becomes Prime Minister.
If May loses, members have 14 days to try to form a new government. If they can not, general elections are called. Much of the Labor Party wants to hold a second referendum – a popular vote on the future of Brexit – the party's platform, but Corbyn has resisted and says instead he will renegotiate the Brexit deal.
If a general election were held, it would take between five and six weeks and it is likely that Britain would have to get permission from the European Union to extend Article 50 (the treaty mechanism on the European Union). 39 European Union that the United Kingdom had the habit of removing from the bloc) and save the Brexit deadline.
May could try again. Seriously.
An amendment passed last week obliges May, if her agreement is rejected, to return to Parliament with a "plan B." But as Anand Menon, Brexit expert in the United Kingdom in a "Changing Europe" initiative, said: "Plan B, is to redo Plan A."
Again, it will depend a lot on the proximity of the vote. If May's agreement is not so badly defeated, it may be better placed to return to Brussels and get some concessions or legal guarantees from the EU – more specifically what is called a 'Common interpretative instrument. That would actually give the Irish government an international law force that, in May's estimate, would help dispel the notion of "hard Brexiteer" that the support would be a trap set by the EU to detain the UK .
L & # 39; EU resistedbut they could abstain if they thought it would legitimately pass the agreement. It will again depend on the margin of the vote. As Menon told me, the EU is not going to "spend its political capital for a helpless duck prime minister".
Parliament tries to organize a second referendum
A second referendum is becoming more popular – it enjoys the support of all parties in Parliament, but not really the majority. May has resisted such a vote every turn, suggesting that it is undemocratic and effectively cancels the outcome of the 2016 referendum.
Proponents of a second referendum believe that a sufficient number of voters will have witnessed the Brexit disaster and will choose to stay within the EU for a second try. Their case was reinforced by a decision of the European Court of Justice Last month, the United Kingdom declared that the United Kingdom could unilaterally revoke Article 50 and annul Brexit unilaterally, without the approval of the other 27 EU Member States and the EU. as long as it will remain in compliance with United Kingdom legislation.
But a second referendum is extremely risky and we do not know exactly what it would ask for: a vote on the May agreement on Brexit? A leave vote or stay? This would also require an extension of Article 50, pushing the Brexit deadline. And although this is seen as a possible takeover of Brexit, there is no guarantee that Pro-Remaining will get the desired result.
There is always the possibility of a Brexit without agreement
If the May agreement fails and Parliament does not reach a consensus on what to do next, the UK will continue to move closer to the Brexit deadline without reaching an agreement. The government has stepped up its emergency response plans in recent weeks, but that may not be enough to absorb the economic and political shock of this scenario, which would likely include: shortages of food and medicine, stranded flights, ports of entry saved to kilometers, and deployed troops.
The case that will not die?
The Brexit debate paralyzed British politics and the myriad of results: a second referendum! no agreement! General elections! – means that the future of Brexit is frustrating and uncertain.
There is also always a chance, as slim as it is, that May's deal passes. Secondly, Parliament should pass a law so that elements of the law on agreements are adopted before the deadline of 29 March. It can also initiate the process of negotiating the terms of the future EU-UK relationship.
And even if May's deal is rejected Tuesday, the prime minister can resurrect him. As May said in her speech to Parliament, the deal is not perfect, but it is a compromise.
However, no one seems to want to compromise at the moment because they do not lose hope that their side wins. (If it sounds familiar, he should.) The "no" votes of the Conservative and Labor MPs are less a rejection of the May agreement than the last-ditch effort to achieve a different outcome. The pro-stills are always looking for a way to undo Brexit, and pro-outters know that the default is not a deal – a result they can live with if they manage to break up for good. with the EU.
These options will begin to narrow in the run-up to the Brexit deadline, especially if a majority of Parliament wants to avoid a no-deal scenario. This is almost always the argument of May: if Britain wants to break with the EU, this agreement is the only way forward. And May could always win.
"There is still life in the market" Said Menon. "Not a lot, but it's certainly not dead."