Brexit – The impasse continues

Baskar Sundaram
Baskar Sundaram

Brexit – The impasse continues

PM is resigned to ask for another extension from EU although he has laid out his own condition – an early general election

In the middle of October, PM Boris Johnson had almost pulled off a coup of sorts by getting a revised Brexit deal through with the EU. European leaders who had earlier waved-off his efforts started lining up to congratulate him on his work. It was a brief moment of glory for Mr. Johnson who had pledged to get UK out of EU on 31 October, by any means possible. The next hurdle was to get his own Parliament to give an approval to his plans, something which his predecessor, Theresa May, had also failed to achieve – thrice.

On Saturday – 19 Oct, British MPs were supposed to vote on approving the PM’s deal with the European Union. Instead, the UK parliament narrowly voted in favour of an amendment to hold off approval for the PM’s new Brexit deal.

The PM was confident on getting his deal through even though he has lost his majority in the Parliament. On the other side, many MPs had been worried that UK might be headed towards a ‘no-deal’ Brexit unless a legislation (The Withdrawal Agreement Bill ) to make Brexit a reality had not been approved in the meanwhile.

The amendment to hold off approval for the PM’s deal, now widely quoted as the Letwin amendment, was tabled by MP, Sir Oliver Letwin. It allows to holds off the final approval on the EU-UK deal until after The Withdrawal Agreement Bill has been passed in the Parliament.

Incidentally, another law passed weeks ago forces Mr. Johnson to ask the EU for another extension if he didn’t have a deal done by midnight on Saturday, 19 October, which he did not. Against his wishes, Mr. Johnson had to ask EU to push the Brexit deadline which the Bloc is now mulling and not before it has had its displeasure known for the time and resources Brexit is consuming.

For all practical reasons, it looks like Brexit has now been pushed to the end of January 2020, at least.

Mr. Johnson realises that he would only be able to ever get Brexit done is through a clear majority in the Parliament. Consequently, he has asked for a snap general election on December 12 and has put the onus of Brexit back on the Parliament. He has categorically stated that the MPs can debate his Brexit deal “all they want” but only if they agree to his proposal on holding an early general election.

PM Boris Johnson has previously twice asked for general elections and both times he did not get one. Now will it be the case third time lucky? Experts feel that the indications so far from the opposition parties suggest that yet again it is unlikely to go Mr. Johnsons’ way and his tenacity will once again be put to test.


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