May’s floundering efforts to get her Brexit deal approved has resulted in a few diplomats opining that Britain was most likely headed for chaotic tumble out of the EU. The bloc is likely to push ahead with contingency preparations next week and is gearing up for an emergency Brexit summit probably on April 10.
British Prime Minister Theresa May’s diluted Brexit deal is set to go for a vote on Friday at a special sitting.
While British lawmakers will vote on May’s withdrawal agreement they will not vote on the framework for Britain’s future relations with the EU which she had negotiated which had sparked confusion among lawmakers.
Last week, Britain came to an understanding with the European Union that Brexit will be delayed until April 12; a further delay until May 22 is also on offer if May is unable to get her divorce deal ratified by lawmakers this week.
“The European Union will only agree an extension until May 22 if the withdrawal agreement is approved this week,” said Andrea Leadsom, leader of the House of Commons. “Tomorrow’s motion gives parliament the opportunity to secure that extension.”
On two previous occasions, May’s Brexit package, had been overwhelmingly rejected by British lawmakers. It now remains to be seen when or even if, the United Kingdom, the world’s fifth-largest economy, will leave the EU. The risks of a cliffhanger Brexit, or that of a prolonged delay in departure in order to hold a general election, have increased since other options have receded.
Although Friday’s vote cannot clinch approval of May’s deal in legal terms, it however dares Conservative eurosceptics to vote against the government on the very day that Britain was due to leave the bloc, a goal they have cherished for decades.
The British parliament’s speaker said he would allow the vote to go ahead as it would be on the withdrawal deal only and so did not break rules against bringing the same package back more than once in the same session of parliament.
Lawmakers from the opposition Labour Party have demanded to know whether the government’s motion was legal. Lawmaker Stephen Doughty opined, “This just looks to me like trickery of the highest order.”
The move comes in the wake of May offering to resign if her Brexit deal was passed, as a gambit to secure support from a few high-profile critics in her party. This however did not play out well since the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) which props up her minority government, stated it is still opposed to the deal, thus denying her the needed votes that she desperately needs to see her deal through.
“Things change by the hour here but I’m not expecting any last minute rabbits out of the hat,” said DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds to the BBC on Thursday.
May’s deal will see Britain leaving the EU’s single market and customs union as well as EU political bodies. However it still requires some EU rules to apply unless ways can be found in the future to ensure no border posts need to be rebuilt between British-ruled Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland.
Conservative rebels and the DUP object to this “Irish backstop”, saying it risks binding Britain to the EU for years.
A bid on Wednesday by lawmakers to seize control of the Brexit process in the face of government disarray with a series of “indicative votes” on alternatives to May’s deal yielded no majority for any of them. However, an option that seeks a referendum on any departure deal, and another suggesting a UK-wide customs union with the EU, won more votes than May’s deal did two weeks ago.
Lawmakers will have another go at the more popular options on Monday.