Yesterday, the British parliament rejected Theresa May’s brexit deal by a majority of 230. From my understanding this was the biggest defeat for a government ever. The defeat that comes closest in the 1920s or so.
Theresa May’s deal basically aims to keep the status quo until a comprehensive trade deal can be negotiated with the EU. The area with most sticking point is the ‘backstop’ which keeps the U.K. in regulatory alignment with the EU until a new trade deal is negotiated - this could be forever. The need for a backstop is to prevent a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. In the past, when a hard border existed, terrorism in the U.K. was a much worse problem than the current threat of Islamist terrorism. It is therefore understandable the EU and U.K. want to avoid a hard border.
Brexiteers are against this because it has the potential to go on forever, it isn’t self terminating and the U.K. cannot unilaterally withdraw. In effect the U.K. has handed power it had to the EU. The EU could set regulations harmful to the U.K. penalising it for entering the backstop agreement.
There are broadly three groups of people playing politics. Firstly there is the government and backers of their deal. Rejection of the deal may mean Brexit will not happen at all, or we may risk our leaving without a deal. Yesterday’s vote should have been a humiliation for Theresa May and her government.
The second group of politicians are ultra-brexiteers. They have been backing ‘no deal’ for a significant period of time. These ultra-brexiteers include former government ministers responsible for negotiating the deal and also claiming that it would be easy to negotiate a deal. Generally speaking these campaigners have misled the country and are arguing for a clean break, ignoring 48% of the country who wished to remain part of the EU and a significant portion of leavers who wanted a different arrangement.
Lastly there are the remainers - those who want a ‘people’s vote’ to overturn the first result. They claim that they want people to have a say on the final deal (which a referendum would do) but now that Theresa Mays deal has been roundly beaten what would the question be on the ballot paper? No deal or Remain? No deal has the potential to be catastrophic for the country, but remain is an obvious attempt to turn over democracy.
What happens now?
Jeremy Corbyn, the hard left leader of the opposition, has tabled a vote of no confidence scheduled today. Theresa May is likely to survive as PM even though she was utterly humiliated yesterday. If she did lose then a general election would be called. If she survives Theresa May has 3 days to formulate a new plan. This could include potentially extending article 50 (this needs unanimous agreement from all EU governments) to allow for more negotiating time or revoking article 50 therefore revoking Brexit in the first place. If a new deal is negotiated with the EU it will still need to be passed by Parliament. If a new deal is able to break the gridlock in parliament, more voices will grow for another referendum.
To summarise, this is all a bit of a shitshow, and I hope my country can sort itself out.