Parliament Asserts Itself

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The latest twists in the Brexit saga have seen parliament vote to allow a series of “indicative votes” tomorrow in the hope of finding a pathway to (or out of) Brexit which can find enough parliamentary support for a majority position to emerge. Whilst the government was (maybe!) planning something similar itself, it has insisted that it cannot be bound by the outcome of the process. In the event, the loss of the Letwin amendment (329 to 302) saw 30 Conservative MPs vote against their party and the resignation of three ministers such that they could back the amendment.

Yesterday’s events come against the backdrop of a petition to parliament calling for article 50 to be revoked which has been signed by 5.676 million British citizens (it’s still open, but has no more than a symbolic effect) and a march by the People’s Vote campaign in central London which attracted over a million participants on Saturday.

May met with a group of remain supporting colleagues yesterday and was reported as having been swayed towards avoiding a “no deal” Brexit for the fear of it leading to a potential break-up of the United Kingdom (the only way she can avoid this, within her control, would be to use the Royal Prerogative to revoke A50 notice, of course).

It seems unlikely that the third “meaningful vote” (MV3) will be held this week since the government’s DUP colleagues remain unwilling to support it and without their endorsement of it many on the Eurosceptic wing of the Tory party in the ERG will not back it either. Speculation rages that were May to lose MV3, her position as PM would be untenable. It looks likely that a “statutory instrument” which will change the date of the UK’s exit from the EU will gain the necessary parliamentary approval, however.

It is clear that a majority of MPs do not want to see the UK leave the EU without a deal, but in the absence of a clear alternative, that remains the default position if stalemate prevails until (practically) 10/4/19. It is possible that the flexing of parliament’s muscles will mean that by Thursday a path out of the maze might be tentatively identified, but then again…

Dr. Mike Campbell is a British scientist and freelance writer. Mike got his doctorate in Ghent, Belgium and has worked in Belgium, France, Monaco and Austria since leaving the UK. As a writer, he specialises in business, science, medicine and environmental subjects.