The Final Countdown: May Braces For Historic Defeat As Voting On Brexit Deal Begins

Tuesday, January 15, 2019
By Paul Martin

by Tyler Durden
Tue, 01/15/2019

After months of fractious negotiations during which Theresa May has repeatedly tried – and failed – to win over intransigent Tories and members of the small Northern Irish party upon which she depends for her tenuous Parliamentary majority, May’s supremely unpopular Brexit withdrawal deal is finally coming up for a vote in the House of Commons.

Almost nobody, including May herself, expects it to pass. In fact, most analysts expect the deal to be defeated by a wide margin of at least 150 votes, which would be tantamount to the worst defeat for a British government in 95 years, according to Bloomberg.

At least 70 members of May’s party have publicly pledged to oppose the deal, and members of the Brexiteer European Research Group have also vowed to vote down each of the four proposed amendments that MPs will be decided before the deal comes up for a vote.

May has just over two months to secure a withdrawal agreement palatable to both Parliament and the EU27 leaders, or risk a delay of Article 50 – which would push back the Brexit deadline – or possibly a chaotic ‘no deal’ outcome (though Parliament has recently taken steps to ensure that a ‘no deal’ exit would require the explicit approval of Parliament). UK diplomats are reportedly already working under the assumption that the March 29 “Brexit Day” will likely be delayed.

Per the Wall Street Journal, four amendments to the motion to pass the deal have been selected by John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons, including one that would exclude a no-deal Brexit and another that would put a time limit on the UK’s transition out of the EU. Another amendment, which May has said isn’t palatable to Brexiteers (or the EU) is the Leigh amendment, which would put a time limit on the backstop.

In theory, the amendments would give May, Parliament and the EU a better idea of what Parliament would accept. May is expected to return to Brussels within 48 hours of Tuesday’s vote to meet with EU leaders, who have recently signaled that they might be open to making some minor changes to the deal. But a stunning defeat in Parliament is seen as an essential step before this can happen.

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