UK In Political Turmoil As “Meaningful Vote” Pulled
It is getting to the point that whenever the PM rules something “in or out” that the opposite is sure to happen. The latest “promise” to bite the dust was that a “meaningful vote” on the EU withdrawal deal that she secured after lengthy negotiations with the EU would “100% definitely” take place tonight, despite the fact that the government looked certain to lose heavily, generating further political crisis, a potential vote of no confidence or a leadership challenge from within her own ranks.
Rumours started to circulate yesterday by mid-morning that the vote would be pulled which was indeed the case with the use of an arcane political mechanism (and against the wishes of the majority of The House). The idea of deferring the bill was to try to persuade the EU to grant further concessions, notably about the implementation of and exit from “the backstop”. It looks as if EU leaders are willing to tweak the terms being used, but have made it clear that they will not re-open the negotiation process. As things stand, the UK will crash out of the EU with no transitional phase and no agreement on 29/3/19.
On Monday, the European Court of Justice confirmed a provisional ruling that the UK could unilaterally withdraw its notice under Article 50 and remain in the EU under the terms which it currently enjoys (naturally, these are much better than the terms of the deal that May has brokered).
Unsurprisingly, money markets acted badly to the unexpected development with Sterling falling to 18-month lows against the US Dollar (this is a mild foretaste of what will happen to the currency if a no deal Bexit can’t be avoided).
The Speaker of The House of Commons has granted an emergency opposition debate on yesterday’s debacle which takes place today, but will have little value other than a venting of steam.