Brexit update: Will Theresa May’s last-minute desperate efforts procrastinate Brexit?

Ms Theresa MAY, UK Prime Minister. Event:
European Council – March 2019.Shoot date 21/03/2019. Location:
Bruxelles – BELGIUM Copyright: European Union.

After a long seven-hour meeting with her cabinet, Theresa May decided to meet Jeremy Corbyn in order to agree on a common plan for the future UK-EU relations, but practically ask for an extention of Article 50.

The recent inability of the members of the Parliament (MPs) to get a majority on twelve indicative votes together with the fact that Prime Minister’s deal was turned down three times forced her to come up with an alternative as no solution was expected to be found till April 12.

However, it is highly unlikely that the Conservative and Labour Leaders would come to a common agreement and most probably alternative choices will be proposed for vote in the House of Commons as a last resort to prevent a no-deal Brexit.

Background

Last week, the UK Parliament voted down on May’s deal for a third time and rejected eight alternative options. The latter led to four indicative votes which were proposed last Monday but none managed to gain majority. These exit options included a UK-wide customs union with the EU, a confirmatory referendum, stopping Brexit altogether or joining the European Free Trade Association and European Economic Area.

The customs union vote was not approved by only three votes whereas the referendum choice received most of favour votes. What is more, Conservative former minister Nick Boles resigned from the party and will sit in the Commons as “an Independent Progressive Conservative” because his motion was not supported.

Will May ever take the situation in her own hands or not?

Theresa May called for a cabinet meeting yesterday in order to discuss the next steps that would ensure Britain will not leave the EU without a deal. Therefore, the UK PM tried to reassure the British people last night that she is determined to seek for another Brexit delay, preferable before the EU elections in May 22, by debating the issue with Jeremy Corbyn and put their common decision, if any, to Parliament’s vote. If not, then both Leaders will have to propose other options to the House of Commons which will reveal the Brexit path.

The Labour Leader responded to PM’s statement that would be glad to discuss with her. He also mentioned that: “We recognise that she has made a move, I recognise my responsibility to represent the people that supported Labour in the last election and the people who didn’t support Labour but nevertheless want certainty and security for their own future and that’s the basis on which we will meet her and we will have those discussions.”

The above decision shows that the PM has finally realised that putting her deal directly to a fourth vote would be not only disastrous and once more dropped down by the MPs but also would be a waste of precious time, nine days away from the Brexit deadline. But is there a rationale possibility that both the PM and the Labour Leader will reach an agreement without crossing their red lines? And why will the MPs provide their approval to a specific alternative option now, after twelve indicative vote rejections?

It seems that the course that Ms May has chosen is not differing much from what we have seen in the last weeks. The PM is attempting to pass her deal from the backdoor obtaining Corbyn’s consent, which is highly unlikely, or drive the last decision all the way to the Parliament. Will May manage to revert the ongoing situation by softening her approach, get a deal approved and extent Brexit till the EU elections or longer?

Businesses’ concerns

The business world has been experiencing already the consequences of UK’s decision to leave the EU. According to IHS Markit manufacturing purchasing managers’ index, last month’s figures indicated an expansion of Britain’s manufacturing sector as firms increased their products’ production fearing of a no-deal Brexit. More specifically, IHS Markit index rose to 55,1 in March from 52,1 in February; a 13th month-high.

Rob Dobson, director at IHS Markit, stated that: “The stock-building boost introduces a major headwind for demand, output and jobs growth moving forward. Manufacturers are already reporting concerns that future trends could be constrained as inventory positions across the economy are unwound. The survey is also picking up signs that EU companies are switching away from sourcing inputs from UK firms as Brexit approaches.”

Brexit delay: Is it feasible?

The desperate moves from Theresa May and the failure of UK’s political system to come to an agreement increase the risks of driving the country to the edge of the cliff. The latter is extremely worrying and causing turbulences not only to Britain but also to the Old Continent. The pressure is mainly on the UK side which will have to find a deal in order to persuade the European Union that they are worth a Brexit delay.

All in all, it seems quite hard for the Conservative and Labour parties to be ready to compromise and reach a mutual agreement capable of granting the extension required.

Let’s just hope that sanity will prevail in UK Leaders’ minds during this last critical week that is left before the Brexit chaos.

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