On Tuesday, the British Parliament voted on the Brexit deal that Prime Minister Theresa May had negotiated.
We have lived with it for so long, that it has dominated our political discussion.
Some are loved the experiences while others detested everything that it represents. But today it has slipped away into political oblivion.
Brexit is dead and gone, it is time for everyone to go back to their tents!
UK Parliament on Tuesday handed Theresa’s Brexit deal the biggest defeat in the history of UK politics with overwhelming 432 to 202.
It’s over for Theresa May’s deal which was, in essence, a disastrous outing.
When the tally of votes for Theresa May’s Brexit deal was announced in the House of Commons, at a little past seven-thirty in the evening, there was a sharp, audible gasp, as even her opponents seemed stunned by the scale of her humiliating defeat.
Earlier in the day, the BBC had predicted that a margin of two hundred would be a worst-case scenario;
However,two hundred and thirty is a compound disaster. After the vote, the BBC reported that it appeared to be the largest defeat of a governing party in recorded British parliamentary history other than on measures on which it freed members to vote their conscience.
The biggest problem, though, is not that May lost, or even that she is now facing a no-confidence vote, brought forward by Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party leader, that could come as soon as Wednesday.
It is that no one seems to have a clear vision for what to do about Brexit that is not highly reliant on phantasmagoria or outright fantasy.
Interestingly, Britain will still leave the European Union, on March 29th that’s ten weeks from now. The European Withdrawal Act, which Parliament passed in 2018, gives members of Parliament a “meaningful” vote on a deal with the E.U. about the terms of the exit.
May negotiated just such a deal, providing for a transition period and allowing British citizens living in other E.U. countries to, as May put it, “carry on their lives as before,” and allowing the same for E.U. citizens who have settled in Britain.
But, while Parliament has to approve any deal, it does not have to approve no deal a Brexit that involves the United Kingdom simply crashing out, leading to uncertainty for everything from air-traffic control to pharmaceutical supplies and electrical-power delivery. That would be chaos, and that is what will happen, on March 29th, if the British political system does not begin to function, and quickly.
There are several people who are disconsolated with May’s deal.
They include but not limited to;
1. Remainers, who’d opposed Brexit, thought that it didn’t keep it close enough. They are not interested in leaving EU for whatever reason.
2. The Northern Irish. They thought that its treatment of the Irish border, probably the most complex aspect of Brexit, did not respect their concerns or interest.
3. The Scottish Nationalists. They don’t appreciate being dragged out of the E.U.
Also found the whole thing outrageous.
4. Labour, which is itself divided, found it too Tory and extremely conservative. Also, the weakness of May was too tempting a target for opportunists in the Party’s ranks and elsewhere.
The labour party leader Corbyn, in a speech before the vote, called May’s plan “cynical” and “a reckless leap in the dark.” His proposal? Defeat it, “and then we move to a general election.” Corbyn might then be in 10 Downing Street. It’s less clear where the fight over Brexit would be.
The four hundred and thirty-two no votes on May’s plan meant too many different and contradictory things for her defeat to yield anything, in the short term, other than uncertainty.
Tulip Siddiq, a Labour M.P. who is nine months pregnant, rejected her doctor’s advice and went to the House of Commons in a wheelchair so that she could vote against May’s plan. She voted no, she said, because she believed that the best future for her unborn son would be in a Britain that remained a part of Europe. (She also rejected the idea of being “paired” with someone on the opposite side who would agree not to vote so that her absence wouldn’t change the margin, because last year, on another Brexit vote, a Tory M.P. made a similar deal with an M.P. who had just given birth but voted anyway.) Yet the result was that Siddiq voted the same way as Boris Johnson, the slapdash Tory and former Foreign Secretary, who made a career out of casually trashing Europe, and as Jacob Rees-Mogg, the theatrical, hardcore Tory Brexiteer. (A hundred and eighteen members of May’s party voted against her.)
As May put it after the tally was announced, “It is clear that the House does not support this deal. But tonight’s vote tells us nothing about what it does support. Nothing about how or even if it intends to honor the decision the British people took in a referendum Parliament decided to hold.”
As she pronounced that last line a reference to the 2016 Brexit referendum, which the Leave side narrowly won some M.P.s began to boo and hiss.
Perhaps they were all very clear in their own minds about what they each supported. In some cases, they wanted a second referendum, which might overturn the first, though it might also reaffirm it. There are ways, legally, for Britain to back out of Brexit. After the vote, Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, tweeted, “If a deal is impossible, and no one wants no deal, then who will finally have the courage to say what the only positive solution is?” By this, he presumably meant just dropping the whole thing and staying in Europe.
But Tusk is wrong: a sizable fraction of the hard Brexiteers in Parliament does want “no deal,” including Rees-Mogg and his Tory-rebel allies. Some of them see it as, however flawed, the best option left; for others, crashing out, on March 29th, is not the danger but the goal they want to burn the bridges to the E.U. bureaucracy in Brussels, and never mind whether they take a good part of the British economy down with them.
Both those who want the hardest Brexit and those who think that the whole thing might now be called off seem to believe that Tuesday’s vote helped them. And both sides might be right about the wide-open quality of the moment. The vote was a starburst of extremes, with all the energy going in different directions.
Britain can also stall for time by asking the E.U. for an extension, in the hopes that something will be figured out. But the E.U. is likely to want a sense of what the plan is.
(On Twitter, Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the E.U. Commission, urged the U.K. “to clarify its intentions as soon as possible. Time is almost up.”)
— Jean-Claude Juncker (@JunckerEU) January 15, 2019
May had hoped that, if her loss was relatively narrow, she could go back to Brussels and ask for a few small changes in particular, regarding the “backstop” meant to address the Irish-border question that might win over just enough waverers and holdouts to get the deal through. That no longer seems feasible, if it ever did; tweaks at the margins aren’t going to swing enough votes. And, thanks to some maneuvering last week in what was yet another backstabbing subplot in the Brexit story, involving the Speaker of the House of Commons May has to come back to Parliament with whatever Plan B she can devise no later than Monday. Of course, she has to survive the no-confidence vote first.
As of Tuesday night, the guesses were that May would survive, if only because there was no consensus on who might replace her; many Tories who oppose her plan cannot abide Corbyn. She is the Brexit plan made human, in that sense. It’s possible that the M.P.s finally realized, in the moments after the vote was announced, how badly they had lost their way. But that would require a level of good sense and self-awareness that, so far, has been missing. If the members let Theresa May remain in Downing Street, will they listen to her, to the voters, or only to the sounds of their own jeers in Parliament?
Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday Britain would be the biggest loser if it left the European Union without a deal, after the British parliament resoundingly rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit divorce agreement.
Macron was reaching the end of an almost seven-hour debate with local officials when he was told of the result of the British vote.
“First option, they go toward a no deal. They say: ‘there is no deal’. That’s scary for everybody. The first losers in this would be the British,” Macron told mayors during a town hall meeting in Normandy.
“Second option, they tell us – in my view, that’s what they’ll do, I know them a bit – ‘we’ll try to improve what we can get from the Europeans and we’ll get back for a vote’,” Macron said.
“In that case, we’ll look into it, maybe we’ll make improvements on one or two things, but I don’t really think so because we’ve reached the maximum of what we could do with the deal and we won’t, just to solve Britain’s domestic political issues, stop defending European interests,” he said.
“There’s a third option, which is to say – and in my view they’ll start with the second option and then we’ll eventually end up with the third – ‘actually, we’re going to take more time to renegotiate something’,” he said.