By Campaign Agent Ewan Ogden
The next election looms large:
The scenario that is about to be explained is a worst-case scenario and is not meant to be understood as the definitive way Brexit will go, however, it is a possibility… a scarily plausible one. To begin MP's voted on Tuesday the 12th of March, for Theresa May’s proposed Brexit deal; 391 to 242 voted against it resulting in another defeat, basically since she is playing Brexit like playing scrabble with only vowels.
Prior to March 26th the situation was this: considering this defeat May can either go for more Brexiteer concessions, like she previously did by negotiating the backstop, or go for a soft Brexit either through single market concessions or a second referendum. As it happened, the EU extended the deadline to April 12th if she was defeated again, or May 22nd if her plan was finally passed. The trap MP’s are caught in however has not changed; neither the Leave or Remain side could get what they want after this last vote. Plain and simple, anyone who does not want the deal is not willing to run the risk of voting for it because it may force more concessions from the opposite side; the worst being a no deal or second referendum depending on your view. And it appears the Remain MP’s acted first, taking over the parliamentary timetable in an exceptional move to try to find a majority for any Brexit option (more than likely a softer option). The indicative votes will begin on Wednesday; however, the government still has the option to simply ignore the commons, cementing its isolationist policy that has set in since 2016.
However, if a softer Brexit is pursued what would happen in the next general election, be it in six months or three years. For example, MP's in a constituency where vote leave was the majority will not want to risk losing their seat in the next election because they could get branded as blocking Brexit. Having extended the deadline and now manoeuvring for a softer Brexit, constituents are not going to throw their support behind MPs who went against their will.
As well, even though a platform has been built off the cliff, it is much safer for MP’s to hope that someone else in their party votes for a deal, or extends the deadline further than to risk their career on it, as hopefully, they would avoid the turmoil of Brexit and be able to say to their leave constituency they did their best. However, if most MP's follow this logic it will result in a no deal as not enough votes will be made to stop it, and the deadline cannot be extended indefinitely.
Arguably the damage has been done to the Commons which should take a long hard look at how it led the country here. Whatever Brexit brings; however, the next election will be defined by it.
Sources and Further Reading
BBC Staff - `Brexit: Theresa May’s deal is voted down in historic Commons defeat`, BBC (15 January 2019)
Laura Kuenssberg, BBC Political Editor – MPs reject Theresa May's deal for a second time, BBC (13 March 2019)
Stephen Bush, New Statesman Political Editor, What happens if Brexit is delayed until after the European elections? , New Statesmen (11 February 2019)