The next meaningful vote on Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement was expected to take place this week. After having met with European leaders, hopping over to Ireland to speak to NI leaders, and putting together an “alternative arrangements” study group in Westminster, the Prime Minister thought she might have been able to come up with a workable solution by now.
EU leaders have repeatedly told the Prime Minister that the Withdrawal Agreement isn’t up for negotiation, however, meaning that the meaningful vote is the last thing on our government’s mind right now. The first step is finding the impossible impasse to this ongoing backstop disagreement. The Commons told May to find alternative arrangements, the Prime Minister has said she wants to simply amend the backstop, and the EU said “fat chance!”
So now, it looks like MPs might not get the opportunity to vote on the Withdrawal Agreement again (which should be coming with new promises and assurances from the EU) until the middle of March…just weeks away from the departure date of 29th March.
Communities Secretary James Brokenshire has said that in the event this happens, MPs would be given the opportunity to vote on their own proposals and change the course of Brexit. So unless the Prime Minister finds some acceptable way forward very, very soon, then Parliament could ultimately find itself in control of Brexit and not the Cabinet. That could potentially be disastrous for Brexit voters given the majority of the Commons is looking for a way to stop Brexit from happening full stop.
In an attempt to assure MPs their voice is still being heard, the Prime Minister has offered further votes by the end of February – but there remains no binding commitment to a meaningful vote on the deal by the end of the month. The Prime Minister is simply offering MPs new opportunities to vote on amendments to her Brexit negotiating strategy on the 27th February.
Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer isn’t appeased by the Prime Minister’s attempt at keeping the Commons happy, though. In a piece in the Sunday Times, Starmer said that Labour will be attempting to force the government into holding the second meaningful vote before February 26th.
Mrs. May not only has the EU to worry about – she’s got angry politicians at home looking for blood. As No Deal looks more likely than ever, our politicians are likely to get even more drastic in their attempts at thwarting Brexit. Either that, or they might just cave and support the Prime Minister’s deal at the eleventh hour.