News platforms have plastered Brexit headlines nearly every day since we voted to leave the EU on the 23rd June 2016. But I cannot be the only one a little confused as to how we have progressed on Brexit in the last nearly 3 year period.
So, as it stands the EU has agreed on an extension period on Brexit to postpone it beyond the predetermined date of 29th March 2019. This is supposed to allow the UK more time to agree on a deal but hasn’t come without conditions. The EU is comprised an unprecedented agreement with Britain; if the UK agrees on a withdrawal deal this week, we are allowed a Brexit delay until 22nd May, however, if no deal is agreed a shorter delay will be granted until the 12th April.
Prime Minister Theresa May responded to this with a very personal speech, essentially blaming MPs for the delay and urging them to back her deal in a third meaningful vote. Recently, however, Mrs May has expressed distrust in MPs, admitting that it is unlikely Commons will approve her deal. The Commons won a vote to take control of the Brexit process, which may pose problems as the median MP is more likely to back a ‘softer’ Brexit than the PM’s deal.
So what now? MPs recently voted against a second referendum, with the Prime Minister ignoring the protest in London and online petition to revoke article 50, which gained more than 5 million signatures. This decision is justified by the PM’s desire to respect the referendum result and the electorate’s popular sovereignty.
Brexit also poses problems concerning the EU Parliamentary elections and whether the UK will have to partake in them this forthcoming May. If the UK has not officially exited the EU by then it is a legal requirement for the UK to provide MEP candidates.
It is likely that this Friday Mrs May will organise a third meaningful vote on her deal, to give MPs a key chance to avoid a no-deal. However, it is looking ever more likely that the UK will suffer a no-deal Brexit. Chair of the known Eurosceptic European Research Group, Jacob Rees-Mogg, has expressed support for a no deal Brexit, suggesting that it is the best way to reap the rewards from exiting the EU.
The DUP has made it clear that they would rather have a one year delay on Brexit than support may’s deal. Sammy Wilson, the DUP’s Brexit spokesman has likened Theresa May’s deal to bullying the MPs into a prison cell. This is contentious as the PM relied on the DUP’s seats in the last general election to facilitate the formation of her government.
Could we have a general election? Vote of no confidence? Or just cancel Brexit altogether? It seems like just a matter of chance whether MPs continue to defy the government or are backed into a corner to support May’s deal in fear of a no-deal Brexit. All of these queries will become clearer at the end of this week when the Common’s negotiations have ended.