Cover Photo: by ilovetheeu available at Wikimedia, published September 2018
The UK Parliament unanimously voted on Tuesday against Theresa May’s Brexit deal, but with a greater proportion of MPs agreeing with the Prime Ministers deal than any others, it may yet have a chance of making it through the House of Commons.
The opposition party’s vote of no confidence on Wednesday also failed. It is now entirely up to European leaders and the UK Government to determine the future of any deal, whether negotiations can be re-started, or if there will be any deal whatsoever.
UK betting companies following Tuesdays defeat have increased the odds that the UK will remain in the EU beyond the set departure date of 29th March. This sentiment has been shared by Goldman Sachs European economic advisor, CNBC reported.
European leaders however have made indications that they would be willing to reopen negotiations, including Angela Merkel, according to DW, along with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who has not ruled the possibility of renegotiations, only asking the UK “to clarify its intentions” on his Twitter account.
— Jean-Claude Juncker (@JunckerEU) January 15, 2019
Any changes to the Prime Ministers deal must be agreed by the other 27 European member states, but any compromises are unlikely to satisfy most MPs on either side of the Brexit spectrum, whether hard Brexiteer’s from the Conservative’s European Research Group (ERG), or Pro-Remaining MPs from the Lib Dems or SNP.
Of the 114 Conservative MPs who voted against the deal though, those with more moderate views may be willing to make concessions if minor changes to the deal are made, particularly if it becomes clear that Mrs May’s deal is the only foreseeable one available to secure Brexit.
If the PM can acquire assurances from the EU, particularly around the Irish backstop, she may be able to gain support from some of those MPs who voted against her.
One of the major challenges the PM faces, which was largely responsible for Tuesday’s deal not passing, is the Irish backstop. But what is the Backstop?
In the event of a no deal Brexit, the backstop would allow free movement of goods and services between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland to continue as it already does within the European Union rules.
Why has it become so contentious? Because MPs feel the EU has not provided enough assurances that the backstop would only be a temporary solution.
Although Mrs May tried to persuade the House of Commons on Monday that she had “assurances and clarifications” from the EU that any backstop would not be a permanent, that message failed to resonate with MPs.
Jeremy Corbyn’s vote of no confidence defeat may serve as a temporary respite for the Prime Minister, but her Government will be expected to set out a new plan by next week.
That defeat may be enough to tempt some Labour MPs to concede to the PMs deal, having no prospect of forming a majority government. But with Theresa May on Wednesday stating she would make no concessions on the Customs Union, one of the central tenants of the Labour Party’s Brexit plan, the chances of a cross party agreement will be an uphill struggle.