May to Parliament: “The legal default in UK and EU law remains that the UK will leave the EU without a deal unless something else is agreed.”

Okay, let’s see if I can keep this straight because Brexit has become a circus.

On Tuesday, the Members of Parliament (MP) voted against British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit Deal. On Wednesday night, the MPs voted against leaving the European Union (EU) without a deal.

What a Catch-22. So this sets up a vote on Thursday to extend Brexit, but even if the MPs pass that, the EU has to approve it.

The Votes

The MPs voted 321-308 not to leave the EU without a deal.

After that, they voted on the Malthouse Compromise amendment, “brought forth by Tory backbenders, which stated that “the UK seek a short Article 50 extension and a ‘mutual standstill’ agreement with the EU lasting until December 2021 instead of Britain leaving with no-deal.” From The Telegraph:

The amendment requests an extension until May 22 – just before the European elections, during which a transition period to December 2021 would be negotiated (that is, one year longer than the current transition). At the end of that period, the UK would leave without a deal.

They voted this down 374-164. Even if the MPs voted yes, it wouldn’t have worked:

It’s based on a rather misguided understanding of how the Article 50 process works. The transition period is part of the Withdrawal Agreement. Without a withdrawal agreement (aka a no-deal Brexit) there is no legal basis for a transition period, and Britain would simply become a third country.

To get a transition period would require Britain to either sign up to the existing Withdrawal Agreement or negotiate a new one from scratch. The EU has been absolutely clear that it will not negotiate a new withdrawal agreement. It is not in Europe’s interest to prioritise the UK, which is leaving, over Ireland, a continuing member state.

The government then tried to get the no-deal back on the table, but the MPs voted no, 321-278.

MPs will vote on an extension to Article 50 on Thursday night.

May’s Response

May berated the MPs after the votes and provided them a dose of reality (emphasis mine):

“The House has today provided a clear majority against leaving without a deal.

“However I will repeat what I have said before. These are about the choices that this House faces.

“The legal default in UK and EU law remains that the UK will leave the EU without a deal unless something else is agreed.


“The onus is now on every one of us in this House to find out what that is. The options before us are the same as they always have been.

“We could leave with the deal this Government has negotiated over the past two years. We could leave with a deal we have negotiated but subject to a second referendum but that would risk no Brexit at all, damaging the fragile trust between the British public and the members of this House.

“We could seek to negotiate a different deal, however, the EU has been clear the deal on the table is indeed the only deal available.

“I also confirmed last night that of the House declined to approve leaving without a deal on the 29th March 2019 the Government would bring forward a motion on whether the House supports seeking to agree an extension to Article 50 with the EU which is the logical consequence of the votes over the past two days in this House.”

If the UK gets the extension, May reminded the MPs that “would undoubtedly require the United Kingdom to hold European Parliament elections in May.”

Thursday’s Vote

The government will put this motion in front of the MPs tomorrow:

Labour responded:

Raising a point of order, Labour’s Mary Creagh (Wakefield) said: “But the business motion that you just read out at speed indicates that the Government is clearly making this House a prisoner of its deal because what it is saying is that we have to agree the deal by the 20th March and if we do that we get the extension that this House is clearly going to be voting for tomorrow.

“When will the Government allow this House to express any alternatives to the deal that the Prime Minister despite having been beaten twice is still trying to railroad through this place?”‘

Oh, I don’t know. How about listening to the will of the people? The people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU.

In my post on Tuesday, I provided evidence that it would not be the end of the world if the UK left the EU without a deal. If the UK leaves without a deal, then Britain would revert “to World Trade Organization (WTO) terms with the E.U. Business groups.”

The Telegraph quoted experts who agreed that it would be in the interest of the EU to cooperate with the UK after the country leaves. The UK has the fifth-largest economy in the world. I have no idea why the UK is groveling at the EU’s feet. It should be the other way around.

By the way, you can watch parliament on its YouTube page.

The Telegraph has an excellent live blog during the day you can follow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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