Thursday, 14 March 2019

The Government May Now Have To Revoke Article 50

The consequence of today's votes in parliament is that the government may have to revoke Article 50.  Parliament has voted down Theresa May's deal with record votes, now, on two separate occasions.  It has also decisively voted down a No Deal Brexit.  In today's votes, parliament has voted down a series of amendments that would have asked for an extensions of Article 50, and given time for a series of other solutions, including a General Election or another referendum to be held.  It voted for the government motion that the government should ask for an extension only until the end of June, in the hope that Theresa May might yet get her deal though parliament, and to give time for it to be enacted.

But, given that May's deal has been voted down massively on previous occasions, and that nothing will have changed, its not even certain it will even be voted on again.  According to parliamentary procedure, it should not.  But, even if it is laid before parliament again, given that nothing has changed, there is no reason why it should obtain a majority.  The DUP are looking for a fig leaf, but it will be obvious to all that, in fact, if they vote for it, they will have capitulated.  Even if the DUP do capitulate, there are too many ERG'ers likely to oppose it for it to get through.  And, the ERG have more reason to continue to oppose than the DUP, because the basis of the ERG's opposition, that the backstop means that Britain is trapped inside the Customs Union and Single Market indefinitely has not changed.  There is no way to square the circle of arranging Britain's relation to the EU, so that it provides the same regulatory regime on either side of the Irish Border, without Britain actually remaining inside the Customs Union and Single Market, and that the ERG will not tolerate, along with the large number of Tory members that back a No Deal Brexit.

May's plan is that, in the event of losing the vote again, she will go to the European Council, and request an extension, and if the EU then say it will have to be an extension for a year, two years, or more - logically it would make sense for the EU to say an extension until 2023, when the next European Parliament elections take place - she would then come back and try to put her deal to a vote for a fourth time, in the expectation that enough ERG'ers, plus right-wing Labour MP's would vote it through.

However, if the EU instead turn around and say either no, we have no reason to give you a further extension, or else proposes an extension only to the end of June, Britain would be faced with crashing out on March 29th, a possibility of which the EU has been increasingly gearing itself towards.  The reality, as it has always been, is that neither Theresa May, nor any other potential Prime Minister would carry through such a No Deal Brexit, by simply crashing out.  The consequences for the UK would be so dire that whoever implemented it would be hounded from office, and their party would be destroyed.  So, the only option would then be for May to come back, and call for Article 50 to be revoked, to prevent such a calamity.

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