LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Theresa May sought to break the parliamentary deadlock over Brexit on Monday by proposing to seek further concessions from the European Union on a plan to prevent customs checks on the Irish border. With little time left until the United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union on March 29, there is no agreement in London on how and even whether it should leave the world's biggest trading bloc, and a growing chance of a dramatic 'no-deal' exit with no provisions to soften the economic shock. After her Brexit divorce deal with Brussels was rejected by 432-202 lawmakers last Tuesday, the biggest defeat in modern British history, May has been searching for a way to get a deal through.
Theresa May’s Plan B was bluntly ruled out by European leaders today just hours before she stood up to announce it to MPs. Dublin delivered a firm “No” to Downing Street’s latest bid to go back to Brussels and ask for concessions on the backstop. And the vice-president of the European Parliament also flatly rejected two other ideas being hastily floated as ways of defusing the Brexit deal: one being to remove the backstop from the EU agreement and replace it with an Anglo-Irish treaty; the other being to rewrite the Good Friday agreement that underpins the peace process. The triple-No to Mrs May followed a weekend of political confusion as ministers argued over how best to break the deadlock in Parliament and backbenchers plotted openly to seize the reins.
A trio of shadow cabinet members piled pressure on Jeremy Corbyn by saying the party must stick by its pledge to “campaign for a public vote” if the prime minister holds firm and Labour fails to force a general election.
Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, said backing for a Final Say referendum was the only “remaining option” if Labour’s own withdrawal plan is defeated, adding: “That is a very important commitment. And it is one we will keep.”
Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, echoed the view, saying: “If she refuses a general election and to change her deal, then of course our policy is that we will go for a people’s vote.”
And Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, speaking at the same conference, told a questioner urging quicker support for a referendum: “I am tempted to go there with you.”
When you die, you end up in hell, heaven or purgatory. So it is with Brexit. Hell is crashing out of the EU with no deal at all. That’s what Boris Johnson, the former foreign secretary, wants. Heaven would involve Britons changing their minds and staying in the EU, the outcome favoured by pro-Europeans fighting for a new referendum. Purgatory is the half-in half-out option that the prime minister Theresa May has negotiated. Even pro-Europeans don’t, of course, believe that the EU is literally heavenly. As with any human invention, the EU is imperfect and needs reform. However, it is vastly superior as a mechanism for advancing peace, power and prosperity to the versions of Brexit that Johnson and May are pushing. To get to “heaven”, MPs first need to reject both “purgatory” and “hell”. They will then conclude that the only sensible option is to ask the people whether they wish to stick to the decision to leave the EU that they took in the 2016 referendum. We crossed an important milestone on Tuesday when MPs massively rejected the prime minister’s deal. Neither pro-Europeans nor hardline Brexiters like it because it is bad for both our prosperity and our power. We won’t get full access to the EU’s market but we’ll still end up following many rules without a say on them.
The Brexit dream is over - in any meaningful sense, at least. That was the clear and unambiguous message from markets this morning, which cynically marked the pound up sharply in response to Britain’s seismic political crisis, and they are probably right. You might have thought the correct response would have been the other way around, but no, markets are betting that Theresa May’s crushing defeat makes a no-deal Brexit less likely, and either a much softer Brexit - Norway Plus - or no Brexit at all, the overwhelming odds-on end game. Those advocating a clean-break on WTO terms of trade have shot their bolt. Their time in the sun is over, and they are heading for a defeat just as bad as that of Theresa May’s ritual humiliation. Their principled rejection of her deal, in unholy alliance with hardline Remainers and an opportunistic Labour Party, is about to backfire spectacularly. If the gamble was to run down the clock to the default Brexit position of departure with no deal, it is very unlikely to succeed against a parliamentary majority determined to thwart it.
A Leaver and a pro-European demonstrator argue during protests opposite the Houses of Parliament in LondonAP JOE MURPHY, EVENING STANDARD|AIWA! NO!|A general election is “on the…
Theresa May loses vote on Brexit deal in biggest government defeat in history; Jeremy Corbyn tables motion of no confidence