In a week that began with the historic revoke article 50 petition crossing 6 million online signatures and ended with the prime minister crawling back to Brussels begging for an extension, it really does not seem like we are any closer to finding out just what lays ahead for Great Britain.
On Monday, Parliamentarians took part in the second round of indicative voting, a potential way to find cross party compromise and break the Brexit deadlock. Veteran MP for Rushcliffe, Ken Clarke, tabled an amendment to the withdrawal agreement seeking the UK to join a permanent customers union post leaving the European Union. In the first round of indicative voting, Clarke’s amendment only failed by 6 votes, while in the second round that deficit was cut to 3.
Members of the public seeking a confirmatory vote will be buoyed by the events of this week. Margaret Beckett, MP for Derby South, once again tabled an amendment that would see any withdrawal agreement being passed in the houses of parliament, going on to have confirmatory referendum voted on by the electorate. What the options would be on that referendum are still to be debated, but the amendment has gathered traction, only rejected by 12 votes this time around.
With the Prime Minister quickly realising she had not obtained a get out of jail free card, she opted for the chance card instead. Mrs May invited opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn for a further round of discussion about what compromises would be necessary for the Labour leader to enforce a stringent whip to vote in favour of the PM’s withdrawal agreement. Early signs show that discussions were less than fruitful, with neither remain, nor leave votes confident they will ever see the Brexit outcome they desire.
If things couldn’t have got any worse for British politics, Thursday the 4th of April happened. Yesterday saw the House of Commons suspended after a water leaked into the chamber – unfortunate, as the UK is set to crash out of the European Union in 5 sitting parliamentary days’ time. Worry not however, as Theresa May has once again reneged on her promise that a no deal is better than a bad deal.
The Prime Minister has written to the European Union requesting for a further extension on Article 50, keeping the UK in the trading block until the 30th of June. Important to note that the 30th of June is the day before members of the EU vote in their elections. Donald Tusk, President of the European Council has gone further by suggesting a yearlong “flextension”, whereby the UK would be permitted to leave if a withdrawal agreement is passed through the houses of parliament.
If no agreement can be formed by April 12th, The United Kingdom will leave the European Union and enter into WTO trading rules for the foreseeable future. Experts on both sides have conflicting views on the merits and the harm caused by a managed no deal Brexit, which is clearly reflected by the division found within the country, the cabinet, and the crisis facing British democracy today.