- The UK House of Commons on Wednesday voted down a proposal to go through with a no deal ‘hard Brexit’
- With only two weeks until the deadline, no deal is in place and the same House of Commons have rejected every deal put in front of them
- Negotiations could be extended and a second referendum held, but both May and Corbyn appear to be against such a referendum
Two weeks until the Brexit deadline with no deal in sight, but the UK House of Commons rejects a motion to go through with a hard exit with no trade deals in place.
All deals rejected, but no deal won’t do
Theresa May’s latest compromise was voted down Monday, destroying any realistic hopes for a soft Brexit at the end of March. Two years into negotiations, and two finished trade deals resoundly rejected by the House of Commons, it is no longer plausible that a compromise could be negotiated in time for the deadline.
May’s inability to get an acceptable deal led to a vote of no confidence from within her own party in January, and a second one from opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn in parliament. May and her government survived both votes – barely. But now here we are in mid March, with no deal, and yet the House of Commons have voted down the plan to proceed with a hard Brexit.
Money markets reacted positively to the rejection of a no deal Brexit, with a slight uptick for the Pound following the vote. However, with only two weeks to go and with EU officials making it clear they will not give ground any further, a hard Brexit may be the only Brexit the UK can get.
Second referendum a hard sell
If the UK requests it, EU representatives do have the ability to grant a delay of Britain’s exit from the European Union. However, such a delay would have to be unanimously agreed upon by all the member countries of the EU, and representatives have already made it clear that any request for a delay would have to have a motive – as far as the EU is concerned, the two deals they have offered are as far as they will go.
The most realistic grounds for a delay then is for the UK to hold a second referendum. Hypothetically this could result in the slim majority in favour of Brexit turning into a majority against, in which case the UK could remain in the EU. It could also allow voters to weigh in on accepting the EU’s final offer of a deal, or it could lock the country into a hard exit, with no trade deal and a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland – an outcome that would be incredibly unpopular in Northern Ireland, where most people still see themselves as strongly connected to a Ireland.
Even if the EU agrees to a postponement, however, both May and Corbyn stand opposed to one. Originally opposed to a Brexit of any kind, May has made the destruction of the UK’s ties to the continent her life’s work these past two years, and for her it appears to be her deal or no deal. And it’s leaning toward no deal.
For Corbyn’s part, he has been pushing Labour’s proposal for an alternate compromise with different tradeoffs, but the proposal has been struck down by May’s conservative government at every turn. An utter failure on the part of the Conservatives and a hard exit would likely be immensely helpful for Labour’s hopes of throwing out the Conservatives come the next election – and with May having spun enough rope to hang her whole government with, it is easy to see how Corbyn would not be inclined to save her.
It is likely to be an intense two weeks leading up to the deadline. Whether there is a second referendum or not, however, May’s government is suffering greatly in popularity, and we may be in for a hard swing back toward Labour when next Britons go to the polls.