Naked Politics Blogger
After nearly three years of indecision and confusion around the United Kingdom’s policy when leaving the EU, between the 12th and 14th of March, there will be three votes to decide just how the United Kingdom will go forwards. For anyone that doesn’t have all the time in the world to keep on top of Brexit, and I don’t blame you if you’ve almost totally lost interest by now, in this article I’ll give a brief overview of what the three votes are all about, and what exactly the results could mean for the country going forward.
12th March – May’s Deal
In January, Theresa May brought her deal to the House of Commons to try and break the impasse on a Brexit plan after several months of negotiations. In May’s eyes, it would provide a solution that gave us temporary market access, would keep the Northern Ireland issue at bay with the backstop, and ultimately would serve to get the United Kingdom out of the European Union.
The Commons didn’t seem to see it that way.
May suffered the biggest government defeat in history, losing by 432 to 202 votes, which was a resounding call for May’s deal to be taken off the table. However, it’s back, and as much as I’d love to say things have changed, it’s the same legal text as before. In essence, this means that the deal is likely to get as thoroughly defeated as last time, and this vote acts more as a prelude to the other two than anything that is likely to pass.
Prediction – Deal doesn’t pass
13th March – No Deal
The second vote is for Rees-Mogg and Co.’s favourite of the Brexit outcomes- a No Deal Brexit. If this passes, it would be exactly what it says on the tin, the United Kingdom leaving the European Union without any deal or withdrawal agreement in place to define the UK’s future relationship with the EU.
What would happen in this case is a big topic for debate, many believe that the more free, open trade would allow the UK to thrive and deal with more countries than before, where others think we’d lose a lot of business and enterprise to Europe, as they’d become a competitor more than an ally.
In Parliamentary terms, it’s incredibly unlikely that this would pass any votes. All of the opposition parties are opposed to leaving the European Union without a deal, and there are enough Conservative MPs that oppose No Deal to make sure that it’s not a viable option. The result may seem tight, but I believe this vote will go against No Deal in the end, as predicted by the national media.
Prediction – No Deal doesn’t pass
14th March – Article 50 Extension
The last of the three major votes scheduled next week is to extend Article 50, that would give the United Kingdom more time to organise an orderly exit from the EU. Initially Article 50 gave any country that wanted to leave two years to organise an exit from the EU; countries are allowed to extend it if all other countries in the EU agree to allow it.
Thus far, negotiations with the EU have been chaotic, to say the least, with May’s deal having very little support from Parliament, and the public in general. Personally, I think it would be best for Article 50 to be extended, as it would allow time to get a better withdrawal in place, or at least plan more thoroughly for the alternative.
Ultimately, I believe that this is the vote Parliament will support over any other. With no majority in reach for May’s pre-existing deal, and no deal being ruled out by a significant amount of Parliament being in direct opposition to it, this would be the last remaining option. Considering that if this vote fails, the legal default position is to leave the EU without a deal, I believe this vote will pass very easily as all opposition parties, and likely the government itself, will support the vote.
Prediction – Extending Article 50 passes
Ultimately, I believe that after this week in Parliament, we will be in a position where the United Kingdom will no longer be leaving the European Union on the 29th of March. Nonetheless, given the nature of our progress so far, I feel like we’ll be back in this position once more in 6 months’ time, considering whether to extend Article 50 once again in the face of no feasible deal.