Delayed is Not Cancelled

15 March 2019


Cogito Ergo Non Serviam

Brexit Delayed


The House of Commons voted yet again on a new dimension of Brexit yesterday. After rejecting Prime Minister May's deal with Europe on Tuesday and rejecting a no-deal Brexit Wednesday, the House opted to delay Brexit. The 212 vote majority means that Brexit could be delayed until 30 June if MPs back her deal (the third meaningful vote) next week. Otherwise, it could be longer. Of course, the 27 members of the EU would have to agree unanimously. Many of them will want two questions answered. First, delay for how long? Second, delay to achieve what? Until the PM can answer that latter question, nothing else matters much.

There were a couple of amendments worthy of note that preceded the vote to delay. The first was an amendment from Labour's Hillary Benn that would have had the House take control of parliamentary business next week to hold a few indicative votes to find an approach that could command a majority. The effort failed by 2 votes. Another vote to allow a second referendum failed after Labour whipped its members to abstain; some two dozen Labour MPs voted for it anyway, and the one of the Labour whips resigned to vote against it.

As divided as Labour are, the Tories are truly the gang that can't shoot straight. The BBC noted, "Seven cabinet ministers voted against the government motion to seek a delay to Brexit, among them Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay. Chief Whip Julian Smith abstained. The government had allowed a free vote on the motion, so these ministers did not defy the whip. Also voting against the motion were cabinet ministers Gavin Williamson, Liam Fox, Andrea Leadsom, Chris Grayling, Penny Mordaunt and Liz Truss. Twenty two other ministers voted against the motion. The Welsh Secretary, Alun Cairns, voted both ways. This is technically an abstention." Ministers voting against the government position on any vote, free or otherwise, is serious.

Brexit is 14 days away, and the delay the House has accepted is useful. No-deal Brexit would be a disaster for all concerned. Yet, the arrangement Ms. May has secured has gone down in flames twice now. Voting on it again on Tuesday is not going to change anything. Some have argued that by removing a no-deal Brexit from the equation, the hard-line Brexiteers will have either to accept the PM's agreement or accept continued membership in the EU for a time, and possibly, a long time. So, deus ex machina, they will vote for the deal they have twice rejected.

This journal contrarily believes they will remain the awkward squad, and will work for a no-deal Brexit during whatever delay there is, and therefore, they might prefer a delay. Time will tell. 

What is certain now is that the EU is clearly in the driver's seat. Ms. May will ask for a delay. If her deal is accepted on Tuesday, the extra time will be used to pass the requisite legislation. If it is not, the extra time can be used to negotiate a different arrangement. Yet it would only take one EU member (Latvia or Slovenia or Cyprus for instance) to prevent the unanimity needed. It is highly unlikely to occur because no one wants to be responsible for pushing Britain out without a deal. Nevertheless, there is quite an opportunity for brinksmanship. Nigel Farage, late of the UK Independence Party, is scuttling around European capitals seeking that one veto.

If the delay extends more than a few weeks, Britain will have to elect a new batch of members of the European Parliament. Brexit has come to this. An election will be held to choose 72 people to represent British interests in a community Britain has been leaving for a couple of years now. And they may only have to represent the UK for a few weeks.

Once again, the entire mess could have been avoided.

© Copyright 2019 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.

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