With two months to go before the country is due to leave the EU, Britain has decided it can’t accept a key component of Brexit: the so-called Northern Ireland backstop, which could keep the province in the EU’s single market for goods, and the whole of the United Kingdom in a customs union with the EU, indefinitely so long as no alternative solution is found to prevent a hard border with the Republic of Ireland.
Parliament voted on Tuesday night to ask Prime Minister Theresa May to renegotiate Britain’s withdrawal with the EU and seek “alternative arrangements” to the backstop.
Last night, Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal was voted down by the British parliament in an historic defeat.
This came even after she delayed the vote, which was meant to take place in December, to try to shore up support for the agreement.
The three largest opposition parties — Labour, the Scottish nationalists and the Liberal Democrats — voted against the deal. So did the junior governing party, the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland (DUP), along with 118 of May’s own Conservatives.
The Sun reports that British cabinet secretaries Michael Gove and Amber Rudd — the former a leader of the 2016 campaign to leave the EU, the latter a “remainer” — intend to push for membership of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) with Labour’s support if and when Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal fails in Parliament.
This plan is unlikely to succeed, for two reasons:
It confuses the withdrawal agreement with the political declaration on the future EU-UK relationship.
Spain has demanded greater clarity on the status of Gibraltar before signing off on the treaty that is meant to regulate Britain’s exit from the EU in March 2019.
“We want the interpretation to be clear in that text that the negotiations between the United Kingdom and the EU will not apply to Gibraltar,” Josep Borrell, the Spanish foreign minister, said on Monday.
Seven members of the British government, including Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, have resigned in protest to Theresa May’s Brexit deal.
They — and many Conservatives — object to a potentially indefinite “backstop” in the withdrawal agreement that would keep the United Kingdom in a customs union with the EU in order to avoid closing the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Read more “May’s Brexit Deal Splits Conservative Party”