Prime Minister Theresa May has been back in Brussels after delaying the meaningful vote on her Brexit deal last week, but she has had little success. The European Union has reconfirmed that they are not willing to reopen negotiations for the Withdrawal Agreement, meaning Mrs. May has nothing to offer Members of Parliament who would be willing to support the deal if the backstop provisions were scrapped.
Instead, Mrs. May is planning on seeking reassurances, but we’ll have to wait and see whether that’s enough to sway Tory and Labour MPs. I doubt very much it will convince anyone from the DUP.
The natural response to this, of course, is planning for a No Deal Brexit. We’ve been told by the government many times before that they’ve planned for No Deal, but I suspect nobody really thought it would happen. Still, I’m not convinced it either will, or even can happen. Would our Parliament really let it happen? We have a very small group of Brexiteers who would be willing to work with a No Deal exit from the EU, and a vast majority who would use whatever power they can pull together to stop it.
Parliament has the power to vote down Mrs. May’s deal, and I suspect they’ll have the power to throw a spanner in the works and stop a No Deal exit, too.
Regardless, the government is getting ready for it. I know Theresa May has lied before, but I believe her when she says she doesn’t want another referendum. She knows it would be betraying the trust of the British people and she wouldn’t want to destroy her legacy in one fell swoop. Mrs. May also wants to avoid a “hard Brexit”, and so I know she’ll fight tooth and nail for her deal – but if it fails, I would expect her to push for No Deal.
Chancellor Philip Hammond has put together a plan to hand over £2 billion to transport, energy, law enforcement and healthcare in the event of a No Deal Brexit. Speaking to The Sun, a government source said :
“The Chancellor knows what needs to be done and if action is necessary you will see decisions very soon.”
And I think we just might.
While the cabinet discusses a second referendum, and Mrs. May continues to slam the idea, I think Hammond will make these plans in the background in case everything goes to hell.