The Brexit vote

Kashmir Times. Dated: 1/18/2019 3:55:37 PM

The best option available to the British PM is to defer the exit from EU after having lost the Brexit vote and survived no-confidence

After surviving the no-confidence motion by a thin margin of only 19 votes in the British Parliament, Prime Minister Theresa May will be facing a tough challenge of securing an approval for her Plan B on Brexit deal next week. There has been much uproar in the country after the Labour Party and Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn refused to meet the Theresa May after his no-confidence move backfired and the Conservative government survived. Theresa May hopes to win the House of Commons' approval now despite the fact it has been very hard to persuade the MPs on the merit of the Brexit deal agreement that has been delayed by over a month. But the best part is the debate and discussions that were held in the British Parliament in support and opposition to the Brexit deal in a healthy democratic manner. The MPs, on either side of the government and the opposition were having no ill-will against each other on the issue and put forward their view point with logic of their own in a healthy democracy. The least, it must do better on the contentious Irish backstop that could come into force after the transition period expires, and something that Brexit supporters oppose right from the very beginning. It is most improbable that the EU can offer any big improvements so soon to ensure that the backstop, which allows the flow of goods between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, will not indefinitely lock Britain into a customs union with the EU. Such an arrangement, which would necessarily limit London's freedom to make trade deals with other countries, is regarded as anathema for a country that championed Brexit as a route to regain its sovereignty. Previously, the overwhelming rejection of Theresa May's Brexit deal, the best way is to postpone the March 29 deadline to leave the European Union. An extension of the exit date - hinted at by Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer and France's President following the vote - seems the least controversial in the spectrum of complex alternatives. Both the Conservative Eurosceptic backbenchers, and Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party, which supports the minority government in London, have promised to oppose the motion. Consequently, the onus of taking the country out of the EU will remain with Theresa May, who struck a conciliatory note after the defeat in the House of Commons with a 230-vote margin (432 to 202) on Tuesday. She argues that there is no better deal than the one she has painstakingly negotiated with the other 27 members of the EU. Now all eyes will be on the Monday debate in the British Parliament which will discuss the Plan B and take into consideration the proposals that may include a host of new issues that have been incorporated after the Brexit rejection.
Despite the reconciliatory note struck by British Prime Minister, deep differences continue to persist within the Conservative and Labour parties on the terms of exit they must obtain from Brussels. There is also increasing clamour for a second referendum from remainers in the two parties, who view the uncertainty as symptomatic of a flawed Brexit project that has already been negotiated by the British government during the past few years. The case is rooted in concerns that United Kingdom citizens be enabled to make a more informed decision, in view of the mounting evidence on the economic impact of Brexit. But such enthusiasm would have to be balanced with the consideration that the majority of MPs, despite strong opposition among members, have resolved to respect the June 2016 popular mandate that supported the Brexit. In any case, a reversal of the 2016 Brexit result is not a guaranteed outcome under the changed circumstances after the rejection by the British Parliament. In the meanwhile, support is growing within and outside Parliament to avert, at all costs, a crashing out of the EU in late March, with imponderable consequences for the economy and society. Theresa May will gain in stature if she takes Parliament into greater confidence, not just her own party backbenchers. If that does not happen, the best way will be to go in for another referendum for which there is a majority support.

 

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