Labour MPs may yet hold the key to Brexit

Leroy Wright
March 15, 2019

Unless there is a clear majority in the House of Commons for something precise, there is no reason at all for the European Council to agree on a prolongation.

Opposition to May's deal among members of the Conservative Party derives from a belief that it does not offer the clean break from the European Union that many voted for.

"For now markets remain convinced that Parliament will act to rule out exiting with no deal - and tomorrow's vote is likely to confirm this assumption", said Ranko Berich, head of market analysis at Monex Europe. "Voting against leaving without a deal and for an extension does not solve the problems we face". This House will have to answer that question.

SNP's Westminister leader, Ian Blackford, accused the party of being "a fraud" after choosing not to back a second referendum. "Or does it want to leave with a deal, but not this deal?" May's political spokesman said she had not discussed resigning.

Her initial 585-page deal with Brussels on unwinding Britain's European Union membership suffered an overwhelming defeat at the hands of MPs in January and its success or failure on Tuesday depends on the view of Brexit hardliners in parliament.

These included a unilateral statement from the United Kingdom of the government's interpretation of the backstop; a "joint interpretative instrument", clarifying the fact that it is not meant to be permanent; and a joint political statement, signalling both sides' intention that a new relationship will be in place by 2020, making the backstop unnecessary.

Ireland's Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: "The further text agreed yesterday provided additional clarity, reassurance and guarantees sought by some to eliminate doubts or fears of some, however unreal, that the goal was to trap the United Kingdom indefinitely in the backstop".

"The legal instrument that we have agreed is an addition to the Withdrawal Agreement".

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He said there remained a "legal risk" that Britain could indefinitely remain in a "backstop", created to prevent a hard border on Ireland.

McDonagh said: "Sometimes politics can be messy but I always think it's better to try and be straightforward".

Labour's Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer had warned earlier that "nothing had changed" from the first deal agreed in November past year.

The DUP, which props up May's minority government, said "sufficient progress has not been achieved" on the key issue of the Irish border.

May said it is time for British lawmakers to come together to back what she called an improved Brexit deal and to fullfil their promise to the British people. A request for an extension of Article 50 requires the unanimous agreement of all 27 member states. It remains to be seen if they are enough to get the deal passed. The EU Commission said it would "expect a credible justification" for the postponement. "If we don't check out tonight, we may never leave", tweeted Conservative legislator Bob Seely.

Up to 200 Labour MPs abstained from the referendum vote while 25 voted to support it.

It has also increased the chances that May's fragile government could fall, sparking a snap election.

European Affairs Minister George Ciamba of Romania, which has the EU presidency, held out "hope this will be a game changer.but we shouldn't pre-judge the outcome of the vote in the Commons.a disorderly exit would be the worst scenario'". "It's time that we have a general election and the people can choose who their government should be".

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