UK Prime Minister Theresa May suffered yet another defeat in parliament on Tuesday as her suggestion for Britain to exit the European Union was rejected again.
The vote against the amended transition deal for Britain’s divorce with EU second time was 391 to 242.
May’s efforts to whip her fellow party members in favor of the deal, amended with last minute changes to prevent the EU from applying the so-called Irish back-stop indefinitely, proved futile.
The future prospects of the relations between the world’s largest trade bloc and the world’s fifth largest economy are tied to the vote at 1900 GMT on Wednesday, which will be on whether the UK should leave the EU without a deal.
“Let me be clear. Voting against leaving without a deal and for an extension does not solve the problems we face,” May addressed lawmakers with a hoarse voice, weary of late night talks with Brussels.
The PM tried to win over Conservative MPs who opposed her deal because of “the Irish backstop,” which would ensure Northern Ireland’s inclusion in the EU customs union to prevent a hard border between the two Irish states, with some legally binding changes that would give the UK the power to unilaterally cancel the backstop.
The so-called Brexiteers in the House, on the other hand, want to exclude the Customs Union without implementing border checks for the movements of UK and EU citizens.
These demands are fundamentally incompatible according to Brussels.
A resurgence of sectarian conflicts saw deaths of thousands in the thirty-year period from 1968 to 1998 is feared by both parties, thus the shared intention is to avoid a hard border between two Irish states.
However, even if the House of Commons rules out a no-deal Brexit on Wednesday, a disorderly divorce still will be looming large as the EU officials asserted Britain has to put forth the justification for a delay to the leaving date.
A “no-deal Brexit,” would suddenly make the UK a “third country” with considerably less access to the EU single market from March 29 onwards. This prospect might bring mayhem to markets and could cause shortages of food and medicines according to many critics.
The second referendum, others in favor and some not
May laid out what her sound defeat meant to the lawmakers, namely the deadlock faced by the parliament, “does it wish to revoke Article 50 [an article that regulates leaving the EU]? Does it want to hold a second referendum? Or does it want to leave with a deal, but not this deal?”
As she mentioned a second referendum there were MPs chanting “Yes,” and there were others opposing them, displaying the outlook of the parliament more than two years after the 2016 referendum, there are still lawmakers who are in favor of staying in the EU.
The ones who are in favor of a second referendum argue the public was misinformed throughout the Brexit campaign by populist leaders, and the public opinion might have changed in the course.
The remaining option is still valid by simply declaring the intention to do so according to the European Court of Justice.
Although the majority of British citizens believe the EU needs the UK more than the other way around, according to the figures of HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs), this is not the case.
Forty-four percent of the UK’s exports are to the EU, while 53 percent of its imports also is from the trade block it tries to leave. Exports to the UK, on the other hand, comprises of 8 percent of overall EU exports and imports from the UK forms 4 percent of the total import of the EU.
The Brexiteers however, seem to hold an optimistic view on the future of UK when confronted with trade figures, arguing that a better future by solid trade deals made with other parties would follow one or two years of economic disturbance.
If parliament rules out a no-deal Brexit on Wednesday, the MPs will be voting on whether the government should ask for a delay to the leaving date, on Thursday.
May has “given up any pretense of leading the country” according to the Labour party spokesman for her decision not to whip her fellow party members in any direction for the vote on no-deal.
It was not an easy decision to make on May’s part with regards to the rift within the Conservative Party with some hard line Eurosceptics who would rather favor a no-deal exit instead of giving the EU the upper hand to decide the guidelines of an extension, and the ones that are totally against leaving without a deal.
Favoring the no-deal would also make her carry the responsibility for the chaos that might be caused by the abrupt divorce, and even though announcing a free vote might seem convenient, it is not without downsides either.
Declaring a free vote is customarily exceptional to the humanitarian issues in UK’s parliament, and when the country’s fate is at stake, renouncing to lead your party is not the way to go according to many critics.