Two weeks before the United Kingdom and European Union membership referendum, the British Parliament voted against leaving the EU without agreement. MEPs adopted an amendment on Wednesday, 312 to 308 votes in favor, rejecting a disorderly Brexit in any case. The decision is legally binding. In the actual vote on the package, 321 MPs voted against a no-deal Brexit. The British pound rose against the dollar after the vote, reaching the high of the day.
Now MEPs have to decide on this Thursday about a possible postponement of the exit. There is an extension of the period by several weeks or months in the room. However, this requires that all 27 other Member States agree.
An alternative proposal for the EU exit of some conservative MPs rejected the British Parliament only a short time later. The so-called malthouse compromise proposed applying for a postponement of the EU exit by 22 May. After that, a transitional phase should be negotiated until the end of 2021. During this time negotiations should be held with the EU on future relations. The proposal was rejected by 374 to 164 votes. The proposal has already been rejected by EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier as a “dangerous illusion”. “No withdrawal agreement, there is no transition phase,” tweeted Barnier on Tuesday.
The EU Commission reacted cautiously to the vote of the British Parliament. “To take a no-deal off the table, it’s not enough to vote against a no-deal – you have to agree to a deal,” said a Commission spokeswoman on Wednesday night. “We have signed a treaty with the Prime Minister and the EU is ready to sign it.” Britain really wants to leave the European Union on 29 March. A separation from the European Union without an agreement would have chaotic consequences for the economy and many other areas of life.
Just before the vote, Chancellor Philip Hammond warned parliamentarians that Great Britain would be “exposed to considerable distortions” in the case of a so-called no-deal. Prime Minister Theresa May had suspended the faction in the government warehouse for the vote. In its draft resolution Brexit should be rejected without a contract only for the 29th of March. For the time after, he should stay on the table. However, a narrow majority of MEPs did not want to be content.
On Tuesday, the lower house had voted for the second time against the deal negotiated between May and Brussels, although the head of government had recently reached concessions by the EU. Parliament in London is hopelessly divided over Brexit. May’s exit plans had led to numerous resignations of ministers. These included Brexit ministers David Davis and Dominic, as well as Foreign Minister Boris Johnson.
The main issue was the so-called backstop. This is a guarantee set out in the exit agreement for an open border between the EU State of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The regulation provides that Britain will remain in a customs union with the EU until a better solution is found. Brexit hardliners fear that this could tie the country permanently to the EU and prevent an independent trade policy. They had therefore called for a time limit or a one-sided termination right for the backstop.
May leads since a botched election in the summer of 2017 a minority government that needs the support of the Northern Irish party DUP. The head of government relies on every vote in parliament. Not only is May’s Conservative Party disagreeing in the Brexit class, but Labor is also the largest opposition party. A total of just under a dozen dissatisfied MPs from both parties have recently formed their own “Independent Group” and encouraged other parliamentarians to join them.
In the midst of the Brexit dispute, the government also faces a weaker growth outlook. Chancellor Hammond said in the House of Commons that economic growth of 1.2 percent is expected this year. So far, the forecast had been 1.6 percent. For 2020, the expectation was left at 1.4 percent. In a referendum in 2016, the British voted by a narrow majority to quit the international community.