The government of Theresa May tried to save the deal on Brexit, repeatedly postponing the date of voting in the parliament, but no miracle happened. On January 15, British MPs did not support the agreement on Brexit. 432 deputies voted against the agreement, only 202 MPs supported it. It is interesting that the text of the agreement, which defines the terms and conditions for Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, was supported and approved by all 27 EU members. In order for the document to come into force, it was necessary to receive “support” from the British Parliament. But it did not happen. Thus, Britain’s withdrawal from the EU will take place on March 29 without an agreement. That version of the event was previously called “hard Brexit”.
The historic defeat of the British government
The failure to vote for the Brexit deal has already been called the largest historical defeat of the British government in the history. If we look at figures and facts – that’s really true. The defeat of the government, with a margin of 230 votes, did not happen in the history of the British Parliament before. Still, the defeat during the vote in 1924 was considered a historical one: then the government lost with a difference of 166 votes.
Right after the vote, the leader of the Labor Party – the largest opposition party in the British Parliament – Jeremy Corbin said his party would raise the issue of a vote of no confidence in the government of Theresa May and filed a motion in the Parliament. According to Evropeiska pravda, the vote f no confidence in the government is already scheduled for Wednesday, January 16, the May’s government has agreed with this date.
In case of a vote of no confidence, the parliament has two weeks to form a new government, or to vote for the “restoration of trust” to the May team; both variants are now unlikely. If it does not happen, new parliamentary elections will be announced in the UK.
If the May’s government is voting for a vote of no confidence, the head of the British government will hold inter-party consultations, hoping to enlist the support of opposition party members, and the deal rejected by deputies could serve as a starting point here.
The world’s reaction to the British Parliament vote
The European Union is concerned about the results of the vote in the British Parliament. “I urge the United Kingdom to clarify its intentions as soon as possible. Time is almost up. The EU27 will remain united and responsible as we have been throughout the entire process and will seek to reduce the damage caused by Brexit. We will continue our preparations for all outcomes, including a no-deal scenario. The risk of a disorderly exit has increased with this vote and, while we do not want this to happen, we will be prepared for it,” the joint statement of the EU member states says.
In turn, EU Commissioner Jean-Claude Juncker expressed regret at the refusal of the British Parliament to approve the Brexit deal. He called the document an honest compromise and the best deal of all possible. Juncker noted that the European Commission is preparing for a possible exit of the UK from the EU without a deal. “The risk of a disorderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom has increased with this evening’s vote,” said the head of the European Commission.
Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte, said that there is less time for the conclusion of an agreement with the EU and urged the British to finally make a decision. “It is now up to the British to indicate what they want. We have a little bit more time, but it is really going down to the wire. We still hope to reach an agreement before they leave at the end of March,” said Rutte, reports Reuters.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said about the need to provide a well-ordered Brexit, but stressed that Britain should offer its proposals now. “We, of course, will do everything to find a well-ordered solution, but we are also ready that we will not see such solution. We still have time to negotiate, but we are waiting for what the British Prime Minister will offer,” said Angela Merkel.
French President Emmanuel Macron warned that the transition period is very important, since Brexit without a deal can cause much damage. “We will have to negotiate atransition period with them because the British cannot afford to no longer have planes taking off or landing at home,” he said.
Option to stay in the EU
The President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, expressed the opinion that the UK should stay in the EU after the British Parliament rejected the PM’s agreement on Brexit. “If a deal is impossible, and no one wants no deal, then who will finally have the courage to say what the only positive solution is?” – said Tusk, hinting that this decision is the stay of the UK in the EU.
The same opinion is expressed by the Scottish nationalists. According to BBC, the leader of the Scottish National Party, Ian Blackford, called for the suspension of Article 50 of the EU Treaty, which gave rise to the withdrawal of the country from the bloc. “It is necessary to suspend the action of article 50, to put this question on a national vote,” he said, urging in this way to hold another referendum on the withdrawal of Britain from the EU. Blackford emphasized that time is running out, and the current defeat of the government in parliament was shameful. He supported the Labor Party’s initiative to vote in favor of a vote of no confidence in the government of Theresa May and stated that Scottish nationalists would vote for a “no-confidence.”
According to Reuters, with reference to its own sources, such a possibility is considered in Britain as well. According to information, British lawmakers are preparing a bill that may delay the process of leaving the country with the EU. According to the source, work is underway on a bill that should postpone the operation of Article 50 of the EU Treaty.
The EU is ready to discuss a new deal, but…
The EU’s chief negotiator for Brexit, Michel Barnier, speaking on Wednesday to members of the European Parliament, said that the European Union is ready to discuss a new version of the Brexit agreement, provided that London will change its key requirements. Although earlier in the EU categorically declared that the proposed and supported 27 countries agreement is final and nobody will review it. According to Evropeiska pravda, Barnier said that the EU is ready to accept it, if Britain agrees to adopt even closer ties with the EU rules, in order to ensure a very close trading relationship in the future. According to him, London could, for example, renounce its determination to leave the EU customs union and a centrally regulated single market. “If the United Kingdom chooses to let its red lines change in future, and that it takes this choice for its advantage of the ambition of going beyond a simple but not negligible free trade accord, then the European Union would be ready immediately to … respond favorably- “said Barnier. He also explained that the EU is ready for such a step, for the reason that the British-EU exit without an agreement will create problems for the whole of Europe. And the European community is not interested in the above-mentioned issue.
Currently, “the ball is on the field of Great Britain”. A lot of things will depend on how voting will end in a vote of no confidence in the May’s government. If the government will stand, Theresa May will have three days to provide the EU with its proposals for further action. It could be a repeat vote in the British Parliament, either the refusal or temporary suspension of Brexit, or a compromise, and as a consequence of the new agreement between the parties, or “hard Brexit”. There are a lot of options. The final word belongs to London.