Today, the UK parliament will debate Prime Minister Theresa May’s ‘Plan B’ motion for Brexit, as well as several other proposals tabled by other MPs. The session comes in the wake of May’s resounding defeat on January 15
, when her controversial Brexit deal was rejected by a majority of 230 MPs.
Although Brexit is commonly mentioned in the context of other populist successes, such as the election of US president Donald Trump and the Five Star-Lega coalition government in Rome, the push to extricate the UK from the European Union lacks coherent parliamentary backing. Among Conservative party members, militant Leavers vie with pragmatic deal-seekers, proponents of a second referendum, and a motley selection of mountebanks and careerists looking to use the Brexit chaos as leverage for their own ambitions against PM May’s weakened leadership.
Among the opposition, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is struggling to stay afloat atop a restive sea of pro-Remain MPs
and voters who question his reluctance to support a second referendum, as well as a smaller core of supporters wary of rejecting the popular will as expressed in 2016. What’s next?
For markets, the most unwelcome outcome is a ‘no-deal’ Brexit that would see Britain simply ‘crash out’ of the EU come the March 29 Article 50 deadline with no agreement on the nature of their future relationship. As such, today’s two major pivot points are the amendment tabled by Labour’s Nick Boles and Yvette Cooper, and the proposal of Tory MP Dominic Grieve.
The former, if approved, allow PM May until February 26 to get a deal approved; if she cannot do so, parliament would then vote on an extension of Article 50.
The latter is somewhat similar, and proposes that MPs be given the opportunity to make their own proposals on Brexit: While this could open the field to renewed calls for solutions such as a second referendum or a ‘Norway-style’ association (both ), it lacks the guarantees of the Boles/Cooper proposal, and has been criticised by Cooper
as having “limited effect”.
Beyond these two amendments, today’s debates will see parliament address other proposals
with less bipartisan support, such as the Liberal Democrats’ call for the government to rule out a no-deal exit and prepare for a second vote, a Tory proposal to simply rule out a no-deal exit, a series of proposals meant to block the Northern Ireland backstop, and others.