U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May worked for months to negotiate a Brexit deal which would allow for a transitional period on trade. Her effort was resoundingly rejected in the middle of January, as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and “hard” Brexit forces within the Conservative coalition both voted against it, each seeking political gain.
The defeat was overwhelming, leaving her in danger of losing her leadership position. She survived the no confidence vote, and was sent back to Brussels to negotiate a different deal, with the understanding that she could seek a new vote later.
No new deal has been negotiated, yet she has scheduled another vote. This time, there are only weeks remaining until a hard Brexit. This would seem to favor the pro-Brexit faction of British politicians, but that is not the case.
Politicians familiar with May’s plans have been suggesting that the Labour desire for a delay or even a new vote may be granted should the negotiated deal fail to pass Parliament.
Former U.K. Conservative Party leader William Hague warned potential rebels in the Cabinet that “if you don’t take this opportunity to leave the EU, to get Brexit over the line … you might never leave at all.”Politicohttps://www.politico.eu/article/brexit-deal-if-you-dont-back-may-might-never-happen-william-hague-warns-cabinet/
“If we were not to vote for that, I’m not sure I would give it much more than 50-50,” the veteran campaigner for Brexit [Trade Secretary Liam Fox] told the newspaper. “For me that would induce a sense that we had betrayed the people that voted in the referendum.”Bloomberghttps://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-12-29/brexit-may-not-happen-warns-trade-secretary-fox-sunday-times
May has been facing increased pressure, not from Labour politicians but from international corporations which have been arranging to leave the UK if there is no negotiated Brexit deal. As Fortune reports, Nissan, Toyota, BMW and Aston Martin are all planning for cessation or reduction of manufacturing in the event of a hard Brexit. Other companies, such as Japanese drugmaker Shionogi, are moving out of Britain.
During the joint press conference Monday evening by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Prime Minister May, Juncker spoke to the British Parliament:
“In politics, sometimes you get a second chance. It is what you do with this second chance that counts. Because there will be no third chance,” Juncker warned the legislators who will vote late Tuesday.
“Let’s be crystal clear about the choice: it is this deal or Brexit might not happen at all,” he said.Associated Press
While the specifications of the carefully negotiated and worded deal have not changed at all, a new agreement has been forged regarding intent and implementation of the negotiated Brexit. Specifically, the stated concern of the hard Brexit community – that the EU may use the negotiated “backstop” preventing a hard border from being formed across Ireland to exert influence over UK trade in perpetuity – has been addressed.
The agreement is to be inserted into the existing deal. Per the BBC, it provides for a mechanism by which the UK can tender a formal dispute against the EU if it attempts to keep the backstop open indefinitely.
The May deal is still far from assured of passage in Parliament; prior to the announcement by Juncker and May, it was expected to fail again. The odds are still firmly against the May deal succeeding. The efforts taken to allay the concerns of the hard Brexiters and concerns about the political backlash which would accompany a new vote may now be enough to secure a win, though, a mere two months after one of the most decisive political defeats in UK history.