By Ryan Simpson
In the weeks since my previous article on the matter eating away at this country, a lot has unfolded from the jaws of the Brexit monster. Let’s take a look at what happened and what the future holds for Brexit…
For starters we haven’t left the EU yet, even though for the last two years the government has said the 29th of March was the exit date; with or without a deal. Prior to the original exit date the government agreed to an extension to the Brexit process till April 12th if a deal was not agreed on time. If a deal passed through the date would be pushed back till 22nd of May to allow time for legislation. After the 3rd meaningful vote failed to pass on March 28th and after some political instability, there has yet to be any clarity on what the future relationship with the European Union will look like. With fears of crashing out of the EU without a deal the government held a series of indicative votes in order to establish what the House of Commons wanted from Brexit. These votes were meant to force the government to pursue whichever vote reached a majority; these included:
• Theresa May’s negotiated deal with the EU.
• A single market/Custom union agreement.
• A Norway style relationship.
• A Canada style relationship.
• A second referendum without remain as an option.
• Revoking Article 50 and staying a full member state.
Originally the 3rd meaningful vote on May’s deal was to be held on the 27th of February but was postponed and pushed back in order to encourage members to back the deal. The vote was eventually denied by speaker of the house John Bercow; using a ruling from Erskine May, that predates the Acts of Union 1707. This ruling states that “No motion can be put by the government to the Commons twice in the same parliamentary session if the wording is exactly or substantially the same.” This meant that Theresa May had to seek legally binding changes to the working of her deal in order to put the motion back to the House. This was a huge blow to the government and caused many members to speak out against the speaker claiming he wasn’t impartial to the process.
On April 1st MP’s put motions forward to hold another series of indicative votes very similar to the options mentioned above but like the first set; none failed to reach a majority. Conservative MP
Ken Clarke’s motion of a “permanent and comprehensive UK-wide customs union with the EU” was the closest only being defeated by 4 votes to reach a majority. This wouldn’t have been legally binding however but it would have shown the government what the overall opinion of the house is.
With April 12th coming ever closer and no consensus on what the house will agree on, the PM asks for a flexible extension till the end of June. With the EU coming to an agreement two days before we were due to crash out, the new exit date was agreed to be October 31st if the UK agree to take part in European Parliamentary elections at the end of May. It was the government’s intention to bypass holding EU elections by leaving before the new parliament meets in early July. The flexible part comes in if the UK agrees to a deal we then leave on the 1st of the next month so for example if a deal passes in May we then leave on June 1st. With the six month extension the PM has begun holding talks with the main opposition party Labour, to try and come to an agreement on how the government can persuade Labour MP’s to back May’s deal. This has angered other parties in the house especially the SNP who have voiced their concerns to Labour about falling into a trap that could harm Scotland’s economy. These talks with Labour have caused certain conservative members to criticize the PM on her actions, and one to even go so far and try to hold an “indicative vote of confidence” in the PM. Mark Francois a member of the euro-sceptic far right group of conservative MP’s the ERG; wrote a letter to the chair of the 1922 committee to request a vote. This vote was rejected as no confidence vote can be made until December or later after she won the previous attempt.
After the news broke of the six month extension Nicola Sturgeon has come forward about her plans to outline a second independence referendum when the Scottish parliament reconvenes on April 21st ironically St Georges Day. There is enough time to hold another referendum before we leave which would keep Scotland within the EU. Guy Verhofstadt; the EU’s representative for matters relating to Brexit has said “They are in for the moment so there’s no problem on that side. It’s their decision.”
In the three years since the referendum £66 billion has been wasted, an average of £1000 per person or £550 million a week in missed growth. There’s also no word on MP’s holidays being cut short in order to pass needed legislation or when Theresa May will resign. This could lead to a general election and a Conservative leadership contest taking more time away from other parliament matters.
With no idea on what will or could happen over the next six months, it’s clear that this is the worst government in British history and could eventually lead to the breakup of the union.