United Kingdom: Brexit chaos after Parliament kills deal
Theresa May “has suffered a humiliating defeat,” said The Daily Telegraph in an editorial. Few people expected the prime minister’s plan for Britain’s exit from the European Union to pass Parliament this week. Lawmakers who supported the Remain campaign in the 2016 referendum oppose any kind of Brexit, while those who backed Leave believe May’s plan would keep the U.K. bound indefinitely to EU rules. Yet nobody anticipated that her deal, negotiated over months with Brussels, would be rejected by so many members of her ruling Conservative Party. May’s plan went down by 432 votes to 202, one of the largest defeats for a sitting government in British history. May survived a subsequent no-confidence vote called by opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn; Conservatives backed her out of fear they might lose a general election. Yet May now lacks all credibility. She says she will talk to other parties and come up with “new ideas” for Brexit—a lame effort to “buy more time.” There is no more time. On March 29, Britain will crash out of the EU, causing a hard border to spring up between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and chaos in commerce, shipping, and travel between the U.K. and the Continent.
Our leaders have failed us, said Matthew Parris in The Times. May knew her Brexit deal was doomed but never came up with a Plan B. “Corbyn is equally useless.” While most Labour members want to stay in the EU, their hard-leftist leader considers the bloc a capitalist tool and hopes the Conservatives will “do his dirty work for him” and get Britain out of the union. Parliament, then, “must wrest control from a zombie prime minister, a zombie cabinet, and a zombie opposition.” A cross-party group seeking a softer Brexit has put forth a bill to let lawmakers bypass the government and vote on bills that lack May’s backing. It’s a radical proposal, but given the deadlock, it’s our only option. But then what? asked Matthew d’Ancona in the Evening Standard. Lawmakers can’t agree on the next step. Some want a Norway-style relationship with the EU that keeps us in the common market but outside its political bodies; others want a Canadian-style free trade agreement or even a “managed no deal.” But no proposal commands a majority. That’s because Brexit is a swindle. “What was promised in 2016—departure from the EU but with all the continued benefits of membership—was always nonsense on stilts.”
May and the pro-Brexit camp still pretend they have a way forward, said Independent.co.uk in an editorial. “The prime minister now has a big, big mandate to go back to Brussels and get a better deal, which she will do,” said former Foreign Minister Boris Johnson. But as far the EU is concerned, there is no better deal—and Parliament is against a no-deal Brexit. That, then, leaves a second referendum as the best solution. Our elected leaders are mired in “a terrible, unbreakable deadlock.” Let the British people decide for themselves. ■