The United Kingdom should be taking its last steps as a member of the European Union. Instead, even after two years, the UK is dragging its feet after parliament rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal and voted not to leave the EU without the deal.

Caught in a Catch-22 parliament voted to extend the Brexit deadline, which should have taken place on March 29. The EU agreed and set April 12 as the new deadline if parliament supports May’s deal.

Now What Happens?

May will have to bring a meaningful vote 3 to parliament on Tuesday or Wednesday. She can only do this if parliament speaker John Bercow agrees, but he has said he will only allow it if she’s made “substantial changes.” He did not elaborate on those changes.

What a mess. From CNBC:

The U.K. will be offered a delay until May 22, if lawmakers support Prime Minister Theresa May’s twice-rejected Withdrawal Agreement next week.

But, if Parliament votes against May’s embattled template to leave the bloc, the EU will support a shorter delay until April 12. This is designed to allow the U.K. time to get the deal through or indicate another way forward.

“This is perhaps the last chance for Britain to say what it wants for the future,” Belgium’s Prime Minister Charles Michel told reporters on Friday.

“More than ever, this is in the hands of the British parliament,” Michel said, as he arrived for the second day of an EU summit overshadowed by talks over Britain’s departure.

It’s possible the EU would offer the UK another extension if this one fails. The London Times noted the next extension will likely come with conditions:

The most important will be that Britain agrees to take part in European elections and that British MEPs take up their seats. It will also make clear that the extension cannot be used to renegotiate the withdrawal agreement. However, the political declaration will be open to changes if parliament votes for a closer relationship.

The EU could impose a “good faith” clause in any extension agreement. This would be an attempt to prevent a future Brexiteer prime minister from using Britain’s continued membership to bung up the EU decision-making process as a negotiating strategy.

Whether that could be enforced is a separate question. The extension is likely to be a year or more. However, it could come to an end early if and when the UK ratified the withdrawal agreement.

EU Council President Donald Tusk stated that “the EU’s plan left all options open to the U.K. – including a reversal of Brexit altogether.”

May could also push a no-deal Brexit, which I have explained before would not be the end of the world as so many have characterized it. From The London Times:

Mrs May could still decide to pursue a no-deal Brexit and will come under intense pressure from the hard right of her party to do so. If she does, it will be very difficult for other MPs, a majority of whom have already twice expressed their opposition to a no-deal Brexit, to stop her. The most straightforward option is to collapse the government via a confidence motion, but three weeks is still a very tight deadline for a new government to be formed in time to get a minister to move the statutory instrument necessary to delay Brexit and have it affirmed in each House of Parliament. If Mrs May does not adopt no-deal as policy she could propose shifting to a different kind of Brexit or (even less likely) offer a referendum or election.

Tories Frustrated With May

Tory backbencher Steve Double said that May has become “isolated” from her party. From The Telegraph:

“Although she has been clearly let down and undermined by a number of her Cabinet, ultimately the main responsibility for where we are today is hers,” he added.

Mr Double said Mrs May was unable to maintain collective responsibility after two-thirds of “her own parliamentary party voted against a motion (on extending Article 50) that she put to the House”.

“I think it is quite clear that she is not leading her party. She is isolated, sadly, from a majority of the parliamentary party now. We need to find a way forward and I think that requires new leadership.

“I know that many people feel that next week is a defining moment and I would very much hope that she would reflect on her position.

“We have got to, as a party, reunite and I don’t think we can do that around her leadership. I think I will be among many in the parliamentary party giving her a very clear message.”

Senior Tory backbencher Sir Graham Brady told May that Tory Members of Parliament (MP) want her gone due to her handling of Brexit.

Yikes! Tory MP Michael Fabricant decided not to mince his words when it came to May. He compared her to Neville Chamberlain and proclaimed the country needs a Winston Churchill instead.

 
 
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