The Brexit drama shows no signs of ending

Updated on: Oct 22, 2019
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But the global economy can’t wait much longer

Britain’s efforts to leave the European Union (EU) have taken on all the aspects of the kind of long-running stage farce for which the British are famous. But this one has huge implications not only for Britain but also global reverberations. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson took office promising tough negotiating tactics to bring back a better Brexit deal than the one that his predecessor Theresa May managed. The success of his attempts can be judged from the fact that till Monday he had built up an unblemished record since he took the country’s top job in July of losing every single vote held in Parliament. He should, under normal circumstances, have had the keys of No 10 Downing Street taken away from him by now. On Monday the government released the details of the 115-page Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) and demanded that MPs should give the government the green signal on it by a Tuesday-night vote. On Thursday it hopes to turn the Bill into legislation to leave the EU by October 31, an extraordinarily tight timetable. MPs are furious that they were given barely 12 hours to scrutinise the complex proposals on everything from the environment to workers’ rights and the Northern Ireland border.

The vote had not taken place at the time of writing, but the Financial Times reckoned on Tuesday afternoon that he would win by 320-315. He’s attempting to put together an unlikely alliance that includes extreme hard-line Brexiteers whose chosen position is that Britain should cut its EU ties without an agreement. Simultaneously, Johnson’s also wooing Remain MPs who would prefer to stay in the EU and who he threw out of the party after they voted against him. Finally, he hopes to attract a handful of Opposition Labour Party MPs who represent pro-Brexit constituencies. Johnson warned at the start of Tuesday’s debate that if he was forced to postpone Brexit till January, he would attempt to force a general election which the opinion polls say he’s favoured to win. However, pollsters admit the deep Brexit divide has confused voting patterns making predictions unreliable.

Johnson is in an unimaginably tight position currently. On Saturday he was forced, after losing a vote, to write to the EU for an extension to Brexit. Here again he sailed close to the wind by sending the EU one unsigned letter requesting an extension and a second, signed letter which said that the relationship between Britain and the EU would suffer if they did not part on October 31.The worst part to all this is that the detailed negotiations for leaving the EU will only start once an in-principle agreement has been reached and many months, possibly years, of detailed negotiation on different sectors still lie ahead before Britain is finally able to part ways completely from the EU.

Published on October 22, 2019

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