UK Prime Minister Theresa May had a rough day in Parliament on Tuesday, suffering a series of defeats that tested…
UK Prime Minister Theresa May had a rough day in Parliament on Tuesday, suffering a series of defeats that tested her government and the strength of this Brexit deal.
By day’s end, Parliament had voted to hold May’s government in contempt , and to give him control over the future of Brexit. It was a big victory for pro-European members of Parliament, who dislike May’s deal but want to avoid a “cliff edge” scenario where the UK and the EU split up without any agreement or transition in place.
It also couldn ‘ Det kommer til en verre tid for May, som forsøger at sælge sin Brexit-aftale til parlamentet før en afstemning, som er planlagt for tirsdag den 1
1. december. Den første ministeren står overfor en kamp, siden hennes aftale er dybt unpopulært. De pro-Brexit-folkemengder siger at det ikke lykkes å levere en avgjørende splittelse med EU, mens den pro-europeiske kamp foretrekker å forbli en del av EU, men at de aller minste ønsker sterkere bånd enn de tilbud.
Tuesday’s contempt vote against her government – which is basically Parliament telling the government that it’s preventing the body from doing its job – had never happened before in British history.
The contempt vote was an embarrassment to May. But another vote was an even bigger blow: Parliament voted to give itself the power to decide on a “plan B” if May’s Brexit deal is defeated next week, which looks like it’s going to be.
This will help change the Course of Brexit, and defending against the possibility of a no-deal Brexit. Det kan også øke muligheden for en ny referendum, eller en “folkets stemme” som ville lade offentligheden vegen. Events are still unfolding, but a couple of things seem clear: Britain remains bitterly divided over Brexit, and Parliament’s vote has transformed the stakes ahead of the vote on May’s deal next week.
Attorney General Geoffrey Cox had delivered an overview of the legal advice to Parliament on Monday, but the government resisted the release of the full set of documents.
MPs accused the government of trying to hide something. Cox countered by saying that these documents are not traditionally released and he would answer questions openly.
There was some disagreement, and MPs voted 311-293 to force the government to release it. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), a Northern Ireland party who’s partnership with the Conservatives, held May in power, bucked their alliance and voted with the opposition. (May’s government also lost a second vote, when ministers sought a delay by referring the issue to another committee.)
The government finally granted and released the advice in full on Wednesday. Though the issue was a relatively narrow one, experts say that the action spoke to the bigger problems in the relationship between Parliament and May’s government.
The actual legal advice, however, was somewhat anti-climatic. It echoed much of what Cox had already told Parliament, although it still intensified the debate in Parliament on Wednesday.
The big issue here is the “Irish backstop” in May’s Brexit deal. Den “backstop” garanterer at grænsen mellem Nordirland (del af Storbritannien) og Republikken Irland (del af EU) forblir åben om UK og EU ikke kan komme til udtryk på en post-Brexit-relation.
The deal accomplishes this by creating an arrangement whereby the UK remains a part of the EU Customs Union. The UK kan ikke unilateralt trække sig ud af dette set-up, som pro-Brexiters ser som potensielt trapping Storbritannia i en relasjon med EU på ubestemt tid. The legal guidance confirms Brexiteers ‘worst fears, by warning that the UK could end up stuck in many years’ long-term and repeated rounds of negotiations.
This vote, too, was an embarrassment for May because members of her own Conservative Party led the revolt, including her former allies. A total of 26 Conservative MPs joined the opposition Labor Party to approve the amendment, which ultimately passed 321 to 299.
But these were not the pro-brexit hardliners that have been agitating against May or Late. These rebels were hailed mostly from the pro-Remain camp of her party, who see the wishy-washy Brexit deal as leaving the UK as worse off than it is now.
The amendment’s purpose is to allow Parliament to oppose a no-deal Brexit if May’s deal goes down. Men siden mye af støtten kom fra pro-europeiske parlamentsmedlemmer, så ser det som en økning av muligheden for en ny referendum, eller en offisiell “people’s vote” på Brexit.
Supporters of a second referendum got another gift on Tuesday, when an advocate general at the European Court of Justice issued a non-binding opinion that the UK can unilaterally decide to undo Brexit, without EU member states weighing in.
This was not an official ruling, but it was nonetheless a win for the pro-Remainers.
A second referendum remains a tricky endeavor, as it would have to happen before the Brexit deadline of March 29, 2019, or requires the EU to offer an extension. Det er også ikke klart hvad den andre referendum ville spørre: et overdragelse af 2016 leave or remain referendum? Putting May’s deal to a people’s vote? Of een combinatie van alle drie?
Support for Brexit among Britons has declined especially as it’s become clearer that breaking up is messer than advertised and potentially far more damaging to the economy. Men det er ingen garanti Storbritannien er klar til at forandre sin mening helt på Brexit, og en god del af EU-befolkningen vil være dobbelt vred, hvis den gør det: For det første fordi Brexit ikke vil ske, og for det andet fordi det effektivt makes null and void the 2016 “leave” victory.
To be clear, there’s no guarantee that a second referendum will happen. Parlamentet kunne bruge denne nye magten til at prøve at tvinge maj til at gå tilbage til EU og renegotiate, selv om EU-ledere allerede har sagt at det er denne deal eller ingen aftale. Eller de kan velta sig for en så smidigare Brexit, noe som ville holde Storbritannien endnu mere tæt tilpasset i EU’s toldunion – en etableringslande som Norge har.
Der er mange forskellige mulige resultater, and therein lies the rub. Just because Parliament now has say about a “plan B” does not mean Parliament knows what it actually wants to do if May’s deal does fail. Det er fortsatt splittet, og selv om nogle Tories og oppositionen er united to pass this amendment, that alliance is shaky at best.
“Parliament is giving this power and that will be very influential,” Simon Usherwood, a professor at the University of Surrey and deputy director of an independent Brexit think tank, told me. “But it’s not clear at this point what it can use this power for.”
And there’s one more complication. This might not be all bad news for May. The pro-Europe members of Parliament won a victory, which means the odds of a “hard” or no-deal Brexit just decreased.
That puts the pressure on hardline Brexiteers: If they want a Brexit, the best vehicle might be to go ahead and support the Brexit deal they despise – or risk a second referendum or an even closer relationship with the EU in the future.
This might not be enough to push May’s agreement on the edge. Men det ser ut som om parlamentet, ikke mai, kan snart få kraft til at beslutte Brexit.