Brexit: what's happening at the moment?
22 Feb 2019
First, apologies for the lack of political coverage in recent weeks. I retreated on holiday for some much needed Brexit respite.
Since I’ve been away, much has happened, yet not much has actually progressed.
When I left, Theresa May had won a motion in Parliament which gave her mandate to go and ‘negotiate alternatives to the Irish backstop’. This was important as, theoretically, it allowed Theresa May to show the EU that, if they budged on this issue, the deal would likely pass.
However, the EU said then—and has maintained since—that they will not reopen negotiations to the backstop. They will attempt to offer greater legal reassurances, but they will not substantively change the border outcome.
This apparent deadlock has been the case for months now. It appears the logic is to disregard what the EU is saying and push the negotiations until the last minute and hopefully trust that the EU will concede on the backstop to avoid a no-deal Brexit. Needless to say, this is a high-risk, zero-sum strategy. The chances of a no-deal Brexit are, at present.
Things aren’t going well in the Labour Party, either. On 18 Feb, 8 MPs resigned from their party in protest in part at the Brexit stance of the leadership, antisemitism and the political direction of the party.
The following day, 3 Conservative MPs resigned from their party to join the newly formed ‘Independent Group’ that will sit as one body in the House of Commons. There is talk of this group becoming a new political party, but this remains to be seen.
Today, another Labour MP resigned, though did not choose to join the Independent Group and is instead sitting as an individual independent MP.
Both parties fear further defections. If a no-deal Brexit becomes more likely, it is likely more Conservatives will resign. If Labour does not opt to support a second referendum, it is likely more of their MPs will resign.
Things are falling apart at the seams.
Next week, there is the potential for another ‘meaningful vote’ on the Brexit deal. However, it is evident that not enough changes have been made for it to pass. Unless they are secured, it is highly unlikely the government will put it to a vote.
In which case, we are up Brexit creek without a paddle, drifting toward the cliff-edge and the abyss of no-deal.
For advice on what to do in a no-deal scenario, or to catch up on other Brexit developments, go to our Brexit Blog page for all latest information. Get in touch with Zach or Michael from the External Affairs team if you have any questions.