Brexit, a separation that never ends

Prime Minister Theresa May has won the motion of no confidence, but her plan for Brexit still doesn’t convince the Parliament. (John Thys / AFP)

With no agreement between politicians, the UK’s exit from the European Union remains uncertain

The United Kingdom Parliament has rejected the Brexit agreement negotiated by the European Union (EU) and Theresa May, the British prime minister. With 432 votes against and 202 votes in favour, the majority of British deputies have rejected the proposal.

The Labour Party positioned itself against the proposal. The Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, filed a motion of no confidence against May and has demanded that elections be held to elect a new government.

On the other hand, the Conservative Party (the party of Theresa May) has been divided: some deputies have supported their leader, while others have voted against an agreement that they consider harmful to national interests.

This is a very difficult situation for Theresa May, who does not have enough support to continue with her Brexit plan, which is the set of measures regulating the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union.

 

“Motion of no confidence”

After two years of negotiations, the British government and the European Union presented a Brexit agreement at the end of November 2018. But, far from being the solution, this agreement has provoked criticism and internal disputes within the government.

On one hand, the majority of British deputies are dissatisfied with the agreement, because they believe that the United Kingdom will lose out. On the other, the European Union is not willing to negotiate new conditions.

Furthermore, the opposition cannot expel May, because in December the prime minister overcame an internal motion of no confidence (driven by her own party), which guaranteed her another 12 months in office.

Thus, a motion of no confidence has been the only way that British politicians have found to change the situation. During the motion, the British Parliament deputies debated and voted on whether they wanted to end the mandate of Theresa May. 

In the end, May managed to overcome the motion by 19 votes (325 to 306). But the Brexit debate is still open.

 

And now what?

After the motion of no confidence, different scenarios are being opened before the time runs out: a ‘hard Brexit’, a second referendum, new elections or renegotiating the agreement with the EU.

The deadline for reaching an agreement is March 29. If the British parliament is not able to negotiate a new agreement with the EU before that date, Brexit will be carried out with no agreed terms: this would be the so-called ‘hard Brexit’.

A hard Brexit would imply drastic measures; for example, EU borders would be closed to British citizens, the United Kingdom would stop getting the subsidies that it receives from the European Union as a member country, and there would be an increase in taxes for trading with British companies.

This would affect the UK economy (at least in the beginning). That’s why the major British businessmen are against this option and prefer that they call a second referendum on Brexit.

On the other hand, a part of the opposition, led by Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, prefers that new elections be held. Although this option would not benefit the Labour Party, since polls show that it does not have enough support to win them.

Finally, the option of renegotiating the agreement with the European Union is possible but very unlikely, for two reasons: the British parties do not agree with each other and European representatives are not willing to grant any more under the established conditions.

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