We’re Supposed to be in the Brexit Endgame Now. Why Aren't We?
This Week in Brexit:
Honestly, what DIDN’T happen this week in Brexit. May’s deal was rejected for a second time, no-deal Brexit was rejected as well, a second referendum was rejected, and the only accepted motion of the week was the extension of Article 50. In other words, business as usual in Parliament. Welcome to your Weekly Brexit Briefing, Britain, hold onto your seats/laptops/phones/tablets as I take you through all the votes and drama that unfolded in Westminster. And no, sadly I’m not talking about that jaw-dropping Avengers: Endgame trailer (but trust me, it broke me too).
This chaotic week began the Prime Minister’s best friend: the polls! Most polls going into the second vote on May’s Withdrawal Agreement were rather depressing, not projecting a good outcome for all the PM’s hard work. Mrs. May was still in Strasbourg for most of the day, deadlocked in negotiations with EU Council President Jean-Claude Juncker as she tried to get any last-minute concessions she could going into Tuesday’s vote.
As Tuesday dawned, victory came for the Prime Minister in France as she and EU Council Pres. Juncker announced they had agreed to legally binding changes to the Northern Irish backstop. Announcing that the backstop would indeed not be permanent was a massive win for May, as it was one of the key issues that caused the vote on her Withdrawal Agreement in January to be struck down in one of the worst Parliamentary defeats in a century. This win for the PM came with a warning from Juncker, who said “it is this deal or Brexit might not happen at all”, raining on May’s parade. (Yes, I tried for a very long time to find a suitable pun for Mayday Parade in that sentence, but I’ve failed you, Britain).
The headlines rolled in on Wednesday morning with tear-brimming news for Theresa May: her deal had failed again. The House of Commons voted 391-202 to block the Withdrawal Agreement for a second time by a margin of 149 votes (not worry, Mrs. May, at least this wasn’t the first most major defeat in Parliamentary history this time around, it was only the fourth!). This defeat set in motion the next Brexit-related vote on whether or not to leave the European Union on 29 March without a deal.
Thursday began with the news that no-deal Brexit had overall been rejected. Two votes on no-deal had occurred Wednesday night, bear with me as it took me a good long while to figure out the difference between the two. The first was an amendment to take no-deal off the negotiating table, which was voted in favour of by a slim garin of 312-308. The second vote was on no-deal Brexit itself, which was rejected in a 321-278 majority. In short, No-Deal Brexit has been completely taken off the table by Westminster. However, there is a chance it could still happen (*gasps*). I’ll go into more detail on that later. This was also the point in the day where I treated myself to two dozen views of the Avengers: Endgame full trailer. Who else needs it to be 26 April already?! I know you’re raising your hand right now, I know it! (Also I should probably make it clear we are not sponsored by Marvel or Disney, I’m just a nerd).
The week ended on Friday with news that Parliament had voted the previous night to officially extend Article 50 in a massive 413-202 margin, delaying Brexit past 29 March. May fought off another vote at the same time, which if voted in favour of would have seen the negotiating power on the Brexit deal go to the House of Commons rather than May and her Cabinet. I’m sure THAT would have made her day. The last major vote of the previous night on whether or not to have a second referendum as defeated in a 334-85 margin (I know I’ve said that word a million times in this briefing but there literally aren’t that many other words for ‘margin’ trust me I’ve looked). A third vote on May’s Brexit deal will likely occur in a few weeks time, as May and her party attempt to rally their allies to secure a majority to finally pass the deal. If passed, Brexit will likely be delayed until 30 June. However, May must ask the EU for the extension, which requires a unanimous vote from all the other member states. If the vote is not unanimous, the UK will still be forced to leave the EU on 29 March, without a deal. Which Parliament has voted against. So, in the theme of this week’s news: Who knows?
Well Britain, I hope you understood that briefing because I honestly did not understand HALF of it. We are officially no longer leaving the European Union on 29 March, but we also still might be. Parliament has voted against no-deal Brexit, which we still might get. And Article 50 has been extended, but if the EU says no, then it won’t be. Honestly, the only piece of news this week that makes sense is this: whatever it takes (if you know you know [again I promise we are not sponsored by Marvel or Disney]).
Withdrawal Agreement: the more official term used to describe the deal Prime Minister Theresa May made and agreed with the European Union upon in November 2018.
Northern Irish Backstop: refers to the border between Northern Ireland (UK) and the Republic of Ireland. It is an insurance policy so that an actual hard border does come into being. Post-Brexit, this will be the only land border between the European Union and the United Kingdom.
March 29: the date on which the United Kingdom was originally meant to separate from the European Union.
‘No-Deal’ Brexit: a scenario in which the United Kingdom leaves the European Union without any trade agreement, is only subject to World Trade Organization (WTO) regulations.
26 April: worldwide release date of Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Endgame in cinemas. (this was going to be in the glossary from the start and you knew it)
Article 50: the article that the United Kingdom imposed when it made its sovereign decision to leave the European Union. This article gave the leave date a maximum of two years time from its imposition.
Second Referendum: another referendum on whether or not the United Kingdom should exit the European Union.
30 June: The new possible date in which the United Kingdom will leave the European Union.
We at MyLifeMySay would like to dedicate this week’s Brexit Briefing to the lives lost in the Ethiopian Airlines accident and the mosque shooting victims in Christchurch, New Zealand. Our thoughts are with the victims families.