Parliament will vote on both No Deal and Brexit delay
British Prime Minister Theresa May has arranged for a vote in parliament over a potential No deal and an extension to Article 50, which may delay Brexit. On the 12th March, the House of Commons will host the final ‘Meaningful vote’ on the withdrawal bill that has proven unpopular on all sides. The PM has been talking with EU leaders on possible changes to the post-Brexit arrangement that the hardline leavers are calling “Brexit in name only.” The EU has said that there can be no renegotiation on the ‘backstop’ transitional arrangement, but some additional measures may persuade rebels to vote with the government.
If the deal is not passed in parliament, MPs will be allowed to vote on whether they approve of a No Deal, where Britain would leave the European Union on a clean break, and trade on WTO terms. Opposers of this scenario claim it at best will leave the country in a state of uncertainty, at worst cause severe shortages and security issues. Brexiteers play down these claims.
If parliament votes down No Deal, then it will vote on extending Article 50, the amendment which allows Britain to leave the EU. Then Brexit will be delayed until summer, in theory giving more time to reach a deal. Hardline remainers will no doubt push for a ‘People’s Vote’ second referendum that may cancel Brexit altogether.
Labour now backs second referendum
Steps have been made for the Labour Party to back a second referendum on Britain’s EU membership after its latest amendment was rejected in the House of Commons by 83 votes. Leader Jeremy Corbyn assured his MPs that the party would move in the direction of a public vote “to prevent a damaging Tory Brexit being forced on the country”.
Minister resigns at the prospect of Brexit delay
Environment minister George Eustice has quit the government in protest at Theresa May’s decision to allow a vote on a possible extension of Article 50 and delay to Brexit. The MP stated it would be “dangerous” to go back to the European Union “cap in hand at the 11th hour and beg for an extension”. He expressed fears it could mean a long delay or that Brexit “may never happen at all” and said the UK must be prepared for a No Deal scenario.
Macron and Merkel skeptical of Article 50 extension
French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are keen to see reassurances about the purpose behind delaying Brexit before they are willing to accept the requestion to extend Article 50. Macron is concerned and reiterated that there can be no renegotiation on the already settled Withdrawl Agreement.
“As our negotiator Michel Barnier says, we don’t need time,” Mr. Macron said. “We need decisions. The time has come for the British to make choices and give us what we deserve as partners, friends, and allies, that is to say, a clear vision and a shared plan for the future.”
There seems to be a perception gap between both sides of the English Channel, where British parliamentarians make decisions assuming wildly what will actually be possible. EU leaders could conceivably scupper plans for an extension, despite what the outcome of the vote is. They would much prefer parliament agrees to the deal as is.
Netanyahu to be indicted on corruption charges
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to be indicted by the Attorney General for charges including bribery, fraud, and breach of trust, subject to a hearing where the PM may appeal to be let off. He is accused of illicitly accepting gifts from big business and handing out political favors for favorable press.
Netanyahu denounced what he called a “witch hunt,” and a cynical exercise to topple his government by left-wing opposition. This comes as the general election approaches, and pundits are predicting a tight race.
No indictments of course on war crimes though.
You can read more from James Smith on Think Liberty here.