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News: UK votes down Brexit deal... again

Updated: Apr 1, 2019

Over the past 48 hours, UK Members of Parliament (MPs) have been voting again on the proposed Brexit deal and suggested amendments. In this blog, we outline what they were voting on and what the key outcomes are.

Key Points:

  • UK MPs rejected Theresa May's EU Brexit withdrawal deal, but by a smaller margin than when it was defeated in January

  • EU responded by saying they have done all they can - it is now up to the UK to come up with a solution

  • UK MPs voted to take a 'No Deal' Brexit off the table - but this is not legally binding

  • The value of the the GB Pound rose in relation to the Euro

Brexit Deal - Rejected Again

On Tuesday, UK Members of Parliament (MPs) once again rejected the Brexit deal put forward by Theresa May, the Prime Minister. 391 MPs voted against the deal, with 242 MPs voting in favour. MPs largely dismissed the deal as being the same as what they had already rejected once before.

It is noteworthy that the deal was defeated by a smaller margin (149 votes) than the when it was defeated in January (230 votes). Whilst it is still the third largest defeat for a government in British history, evidently the Prime Minister convinced a considerable number of MPs to change their minds. But was this because they now believe the deal is the best option available, or because they are growing increasingly concerned as the Brexit date looms closer?

Response from the EU

In the immediate aftermath of the vote, a spokesperson for Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, said the EU has "done all that is possible to reach an agreement" and that it is now up to London to come up with the solution. Michel Barnier, Chief Negotiator for the European Commission, similarly stated "the EU has done everything it can to help get the withdrawal agreement over the line".

You can understand their frustration - the EU approved the withdrawal agreement back in November but four months later the UK government has still been unable to get it passed by their parliament. However, the EU absolving themselves of any responsibility will surely only make it harder for a deal to be reached.

No Deal - Rejected

On Wednesday, MPs voted on a number of proposed amendments to the Brexit deal. The only one that passed was to reject a no-deal Brexit 'under any circumstances'. The vote was passed by a margin of just 4 votes.

The government will be bitterly disappointed as they had wanted to keep no deal on the table as a bargaining chip with the EU. They hence ordered Conservative MPs to vote against the motion. But despite the whip, 13 government ministers (including high profile names such as Amber Rudd, Work and Pensions Secretary, and Greg Clark, Business Secretary) abstained from the vote. One cabinet member - Sarah Newton, Work and Pensions minister - voted against the government (by voting to reject a no deal). She has since resigned from the cabinet.

While it may have been bad news for the government, it seems to have been good news (at least in the short run) for the economy. Immediately following the vote, the value of the pound rose as the risk of a no deal Brexit was considered to have fallen.

However - and here's the important bit - this is not yet legally binding. Although it may be hard for Theresa May's government to go against this vote, this difficulty is on moral not legal grounds. It is still law that if no deal is reached by 29th May 2019, the UK will leave the EU regardless. This could be changed - but there would have to be an act of parliament to do so.

A Third Vote?

Surely not another vote?! Yes, believe it or not, a THIRD Brexit vote is on the horizon. In Theresa May's last ditch effort to try and get her deal through parliament, MPs will be voting yet again on her proposed Brexit deal. No date has yet been set for this vote.

The Prime Minister has warned MPs that if the deal is not passed, postponing Bresit will be the only possible alternative. But what authority does Theresa May have left? Her deal has already been rejected twice. Her own cabinet ministers are defying her orders. Does she have any control over her party? What happens next - your guess is as good as ours. Stay tuned for updates.

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