Theresa May’s Brexit plan faces symbolic defeat in parliament

The development revealed that Pro-Brexit members within party are a major stumbling block to passing any agreement.

British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plan suffered yet another humiliating defeat on Thursday. As a result the development has undermined her pledge to leaders of the European Union to get her divorce deal approved by the British parliament if they grant her concessions.

Hardline Brexit supporters within her own Conservative Party abstained from a vote, and thus handed her an embarrassing defeat.

Although this is unlikely to deter May from trying to secure changes on the most contentious Irish “backstop” issue, the symbolic move revealed that Pro-Brexit members within party are a major stumbling block to passing any agreement.

The vote on February 27 is going to be crucial and lawmakers who fear leaving without the EU without a deal could try to seize control of Brexit.

The latest twist in the British Brexit soap opera underlines the rifts in parliament over how, or perhaps even whether, Britain should leave the bloc, in what is Britain’s biggest political and trade policy shift in more than 40 years. In fact, it increases the possibility of Britain leaving without a deal, a scenario that British businesses have been dreading.

Leaders from the EU have made it lucidly clear, on multiple occasions, that there will be no significant change to the legally binding withdrawal agreement containing the backstop, a guarantee that there can be no return of border controls between the British province of Northern Ireland and EU-member Ireland.

Running down the clock

Lawmakers, from both sides, have accused May of edging Britain closer to the exit date in order to try to compel parliament into a choice between her deal or the cliff hanger deal – leaving the bloc without a deal.

Leaving without a deal is likely to significantly impact Britain – the world’s 5th largest economy. Not only will it hinder investments, it will also cause major delays at ports, and rip apart crucial international supply chains.

No wonder Labour lawmaker Alison McGovern has called for stopping the clock on Brexit.

“In any normal circumstances, this would be general election territory. It is clear that the prime minister cannot easily command a majority in the House of Commons, and that is central to our system,” said McGovern.

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