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After months of negotiations, the Brexit deal was due to be voted upon on Tuesday, in order for the United Kingdom’s Parliament to approve or reject Theresa May’s controversial plan.

Diplomatique.Expert goes through major news portals and try to synthesise what is important to know at this stage, on BREXIT.


Updates: Downing Street has said that MPs will get to vote on the Brexit deal “before January 21”. The prime minister’s spokesman said so at the lobby briefing. That quashes speculation that Theresa May could put it off until the end of March. And it means the “Grieve amendment” is still in play.

Donald Tusk convened a meeting of the Council for Thursday to discuss Brexit. 

Various European leaders gave their view on the situation. You can read here. 


Earlier: On Monday morning, the message from No 10 could not have been clearer. As Michael Gove had confirmed on the radio in the morning, the vote on the Brexit deal was definitely “going ahead as planned”.

The prime minister has dramatically called off the “meaningful vote”, on Monday, in the face of what had been expected to be a significant defeat at the hands of rebel MPs.

The prime minister said she accepted that there was “widespread and deep concern” over the backstop arrangement, designed to keep the Irish border open if the EU and UK fail to strike a wider trade deal. In fact Theresa May has headed back to Europe in a desperate bid to win concessions

The embattled Prime Minister is meeting the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in the Hague before talks with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.But back at Westminster, Labour is attempting to pile more embarrassment on the Government by staging a symbolic emergency debate condemning the vote u-turn.

If there is no prospect of a real change then all that’s been achieved on Monday is to postpone a likely defeat.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is resisting pressure from his MPs and other opposition parties to launch a vote of no confidence in Theresa May over fears that his party’s “fudged” position on Brexit would start to unravel.

How the British Press covered Tueday’s events

What is the BackStop?

The deal says a backstop will be created if no other solution is found to the problem of the Irish border being the UK’s only land border with the EU.

A backstop would create “a single customs territory between the Union and the United Kingdom” to avoid a hard border in the Irish Sea and to ensure free flow of goods, the withdrawal deal says.

Support or lack of  for current deal:

Opposition parties are against the deal; over a hundred Conservative MPs — both Leavers and Remainers — also oppose it; the Democratic Unionist Party that props up Theresa May’s government is against.

In favor: the rest of the Conservatives’ 315 MPs and, possibly, a low number of Labour MPs fiercely committed to delivering Brexit for Leave voters in their constituencies. Not enough to win.

One key thing to note in this process is the Labour Party holds many of the cards.

It is they, with their 257 MPs, who will make or break any effort by parliament to force the government down one or other path.

Although May has portrayed a vote against her deal as a vote for no deal, Starmer says the first priority is to prevent the U.K. crashing out of the EU.

“No deal is not an option. Labour will not countenance no deal — and nor would many of the prime minister’s own MPs,” he has said.

Renegotiation?

A spokesman for the commission said: “We have an agreement on the table. This deal is the best and only deal possible. We will not renegotiate. Our position has therefore not changed and as far as we’re concerned the UK is leaving the EU on March 29 2019.” Leo Varadkar, the Irish prime minister, also said it would not be possible to renegotiate the Irish border backstop without opening up the whole deal for further talks. “The Withdrawal Agreement including the Irish backstop is the only agreement on the table. It took over a year and a half to negotiate and it’s not possible to reopen any aspect of that agreement without opening all aspects of it,” he said. He added: “We have already offered a lot of concessions along the way. We ended up with the backstop with this Withdrawal Agreement because of all the red lines the UK laid down along the way. This is a Withdrawal Agreement which has the support of 28 member states.”  Telegraph

More time?

Any possible ‘re-negotiation’ needs more time. Charles Grant of the Centre for European Reform think tank said he thinks the upper limit of any extension could be “mid-May” because of the upcoming European Parliament election, but in extremis the EU could be flexible – Politico

Another election?

For Labour the preferred outcome following a rejection of May’s deal is a general election. This might not be the case for the Tories.

Second referendum?

Another option, and one view favourably by the  SNP and other smaller opposition parties, is a second referendum. One obstacle is agreeing the question.

An ideal referendum question would be a choice between May’s deal and remaining in the EU. Another option would be to put leaving without a deal on the ballot paper as a third option, something favoured by another Tory advocate of a second referendum, Justine Greening. Ultimately, of course, it does not matter how many Conservative MPs might back a second referendum if Labour do not.  Politico 

Replacing May?

Theresa May’s leadership is under intense pressure after she dramatically called off the crucial “meaningful vote” on her controversial Brexit deal.

Boris Johnson Age: 54 Odds: 5/1 (Sky bet)

Having led the Leave campaign in 2016, the former foreign secretary has been the most vociferous critic of Mrs May’s deal since resigning and returning to the backbenches in July.

Sajid Javid Age: 49 Odds: 6/1

A free-market liberal who last year looked to be sliding towards obscurity, the Home Secretary has in recent months won plaudits from across the Conservative Party.

Amber Rudd Age: 55 Odds: 20/1

Having recovered from the Windrush scandal which forced her out of office earlier this year, the new Work and Pensions Secretary would likely to command the support of many moderate and remain supporters who hold her up as a unity candidate.

Jeremy Hunt Age: 52 Odds: 10/1

Having weathered years of resistance to NHS reforms to emerge as Britain’s longest serving health secretary, there are few who doubt Mr Hunt’s ability to wriggle his way out of a tightspot.

Michael Gove Age: 51 Odds: 7/1

His life in Cabinet has been a roller coaster of highs and lows – but his reputation as ‘the great reformer’ has ensured that the Environment Secretary cannot be written off just yet.

Penny Mordaunt Age: 45 Odds: 20/1

The International Development Secretary is a rising star. Since her election in 2010 she has risen steadily up the ranks, and has impressed with her handling of the scandals that have beset the charity sector.

Dominic Raab Age: 44 Odds: 7/1

A prominent leaver whose stock has risen on the back of his brief time as Brexit Secretary, Mr Raab has repeatedly hinted that he will throw his hat into the ring if the opportunity presents itself.

Esther McVey Age: 51 Odds: 50/1

Whilst she is well-known and well-liked on the Tory backbenches, the former work and pensions secretary has until now managed to keep herself out of the leadership rumours doing the rounds in Westminster.

David Davis Age: 69 Odds: 10/1
After quitting the Cabinet in July over Mrs May’s Chequers plan, the former Brexit Secretary has been at the forefront of the campaign to bring her deal down and force through a hard exit from the EU.

Further Reading

POLITICO

SKY

The Telegraph – The chaotic day which saw Theresa May insist crucial Brexit vote was going ahead… until it wasn’t

The Telegraph – Who could replace Theresa May as the next Tory leader and Prime Minister? Runners and riders

The Guardian – Brexit chaos: what happens next?

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