Wrong Answer, Try Again: Parliament to Vote on May’s Brexit Deal For Third Time

Westminster EU Flags
Getty Images

Britain’s Prime Minister is to return from the humiliating second defeat of her Brexit deal in Parliament by bringing it back, again in substantially unmodified form, next week to give MPs a third chance to vote the right way.

The third attempt to get approval for her controversial and much-criticised EU-exit plan, which top figures including President Trump and Nigel Farage have criticised as a bad deal, will likely come before Wednesday next week — the last day before the Prime Minister travels to Brussels for an EU leader’s meeting. There, she will ask the European Union for permission to keep the United Kingdom in the bloc for longer — against the democratically expressed wishes of the British people.

An emerging trend in the execution of Brexit is the willingness of the political class to require votes to be re-run — apparently endlessly — until they are given the correct result. A second referendum to overrun the pro-Brexit result of the first was being called for immediately after the 2016 referendum by pro-EU diehards like former Prime Minister Tony Blair among others, and now this dismissive attitude towards votes has extended to even the House of Commons, where Members of Parliament (MPs) vote repeatedly on the same Brexit deal until the Prime Minister gets her way.

Each vote has been accompanied by new legal advice to calm the nerves of MPs from the government’s Attorney General (AG), but even Friday’s new letter from the senior lawyer has failed to persuade, The Times reports. The so-called ‘star chamber’ of pro-Brexit, legally trained MPs who have taken on an important ad-hoc role in votes have rejected the claim the Prime Minister has brought any new reassurances after AG Cox reported on the 1969 Vienna Convention’s power to allow Britain to walk away from the EU during the transition period if the situation deteriorated.

His report is in response to concerns held among Brexiteer MPs that the text of the Prime Minister’s deal could allow the European Union to hold the United Kingdom in a perpetual Brexit limbo, where the country has technically left the bloc but remains subject to its rules and conventions, and paying into the EU’s coffers. MPs are concerned there is no unilateral right of escape.

While AG Cox insists the Convention on the law of treaties would allow the UK to walk away if talks break down because there would have been a “fundamental change of circumstances”, critics point out that the bar for this requirement being recognised is so high the reassurance is essentially meaningless. Critics highlight examples where this provision has been rejected including a 1977 treaty between Hungary and Czechoslovakia which was ruled to still be valid despite the end of the Soviet Union, of which both nations were Communist satellite states who transitioned to democracy, and Czechoslovakia itself ceasing to exist, splitting into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

An arbitration court ruled in 1997 that these changes in circumstance were not sufficiently fundamental as to invalidate the treaty.

The pro-Brexit star chamber has said the government’s attempt to win support was “erroneous” and “badly misconceived”, suggesting May’s Brexit deal will again be rejected next week.

If the vote fails for the third time, the only recourse Britain’s politicians will have left to prevent the United Kingdom from leaving the European Union on March 29th without a deal will be for the country to beg the European Union to postpone Brexit day. Parliament voted to approve that course of action Thursday, although a majority of Britons polled this week said they didn’t want a delay to happen.

As Breitbart London reports, however, the price of this delay could be great. Senior EU officials have reportedly said they would only grant such a delay if the UK used it to cancel Brexit, or agree to even softer terms, and even forcing a second referendum on the British people.

The United Kingdom is due, in theory, to leave the European Union in 14 days.

Oliver JJ Lane is the editor of Breitbart London — Follow him on Twitter and Facebook


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.