May’s Brexit Deal
May’s Brexit Deal

It was yet another loss on Tuesday night for British Prime Minister Theresa May, as her Brexit deal was firmly rejected by Parliament.

A result of 391 to 242 votes was a devastating blow to May and could potentially delay the United Kingdom (UK) leaving the European Union (EU), threaten May’s hold on power or derail Brexit entirely. The vote has left the nation with little idea of a way forward, just 17 days before the UK is due to leave the EU. In an exclusive interview with Xinhua, Dr Mark Garnett, a Senior Lecturer in Politics at Lancaster University, said that the result added to the Brexit uncertainty.

“Parliament is sharply divided on when, how and even whether to proceed with Brexit, and whether to call an election or a second referendum,” Dr Garnett said. The ball now falls back into the court of the prime minister, who is still recovering from a majority defeat of 149. There will be another vote on Wednesday for MPs to decide on a no-deal Brexit. Dr Garnett questions how this result will affect May’s future. “No prime minister has ever experienced humiliation on this scale, and it’s difficult to imagine any previous prime minister sticking to office in these circumstances,” Garnett told Xinhua.

European Council President Donald Tusk said that the EU was “disappointed” by Tuesday’s vote result – and that it has done “all that is possible to reach an agreement” with the UK. “Given the additional assurances provided by the EU in December, January and yesterday, it is difficult to see what more we can do. If there is a solution to the current impasse it can only be found in London,” Tusk said in a statement, supplied by his spokesman.

“With only 17 days left to 29 March, today’s vote has significantly increased the likelihood of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit. We will continue our no-deal preparations and ensure that we will be ready if such a scenario arises,” Tusk said.

Prof Geraint Johnes, a Professor of Economics at Lancaster University, told Xinhua that Parliament must come together to avoid a ‘no-deal’ – or settle for a second referendum. “Following this further defeat in parliament for Mrs May’s deal, there will be votes on a no deal option and then probably on a proposal to extend the Article 50 process. No deal is highly unlikely to be supported, so parliament will need at some stage to agree on a way forward,” Prof Johnes said.

“The most likely consensus is either around a softer Brexit or on putting the May deal to the public in a second referendum. Whether Mrs May is able to pivot to either of these positions remains to be seen, as she has clearly been very much weakened by tonight’s developments. It is not clear either, however, that any other prospective leader can emerge who could pivot in the direction of a solution.”

Responding to the result of Tuesday’s meaningful vote on the Withdrawal Agreement, Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said that the public would feel the brunt of MPs’ ‘squabbling’. “Even as the Brexit clock approaches midnight, MPs continue to squabble. Yet it is the public who will feel the impact of a no deal Brexit – tariffs, non-tariff barriers and currency depreciation will all push up costs and reduce the choice on the shelves we currently enjoy.” “Businesses are exasperated by the lack of clarity over their future trading arrangements.

Hundreds of ships are currently sailing towards Britain without a clear understanding of the tariffs, checks, or documentation requirements, they will face when they arrive. Politicians must swallow their pride and find an agreement that can command the support of the House.” But according to Mark Garnett, the current UK political climate is prone to throwing up surprises. “When politicians are polarised, normally the most promising route to a resolution lies in a compromise position and a leader who can see the merits in both sides.

This is another way in which ‘Brexit’ has upset normal calculations,” Garnett told Xinhua. To Garnett, leaving without a deal is unthinkable. He believes that there will be an extension of the deadline, and the extra time will be used to make progress towards an eventual ‘soft Brexit’.With a huge defeat for prime minister May Tuesday night, many are wondering if a second referendum could well be on the cards.

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