After two years of drama, British prime minister Boris Johnson has accepted the Brexit deal the EU offered all along.
Rather than keeping the whole of the United Kingdom in a customs union with the EU to avoid an economic border between the island of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Johnson has agreed to keep only Northern Ireland in such a customs arrangement.
This is unacceptable to Johnson’s right-wing allies in Northern Ireland, meaning he will need support from opposition parties to get the deal through Parliament. (Johnson’s Conservatives do not have a majority.) Labour now officially argues for a second referendum. The Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party are opposed to Brexit altogether. No wonder European leaders, meeting in Brussels on Thursday, are skeptical Johnson can get this done. Read more “Johnson Accepts Brexit Deal Britain Rejected Two Years Ago”
Tuesday was an historic night in British politics, and one whose outcome could reverberate through the coming months and years.
Lawmakers voted 328 to 321 to take control of the parliamentary agenda from the government in order to demand that Boris Johnson, the prime minister, ask for an extension of Britain’s exit from the European Union if no withdrawal agreement is in place by October 17.
Johnson, who currently has a 100-percent loss rate in Parliament, and is the first British prime minister since William Pitt the Younger in 1793 to lose his first vote, refuses to delay Brexit and called for an early election instead.
The European Commission’s spokeswoman, Mina Andreeva, confirmed it on Wednesday, when she said, “There has been no change in our position on the matter” of the Northern Ireland backstop, which is the main reason Britain’s Parliament has thrice voted down the withdrawal agreement.
Michel Barnier, the EU’s Brexit negotiator, confirmed it in an op-ed for The Sunday Telegraph, in which he described the backstop as the “maximum amount of flexibility that the EU can offer to a non-member state.”
Less than two months away from Britain’s deadline to leave the EU, they still believe they can bluff their way to a better deal.
Hence Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s resistance to legislation that would block a no-deal Brexit. He and his allies claim that to get a better exit agreement, the EU needs to know that Britain is prepared to walk away.
This is the Alexis Tsipras approach: give me what I want or I’ll shoot myself in the head.
The latest victim of this obsession is parliamentary democracy.
In the battle between popular and parliamentary sovereignty, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has sided with the former and suspended Parliament, so it will have almost no time to prevent the United Kingdom from crashing out of the European Union without an exit agreement. Read more “Even Parliament Must Make Way for Brexit”
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.