UK Par­lia­ment re­jects 4 Brexit deal alternatives

The Tribune (SLO) - - News - BY JILL LAW­LESS AND DAN­ICA KIRKA

LON­DON

Bri­tain’s Par­lia­ment has spo­ken – and it has said no, again.

Law­mak­ers seek­ing a way out of the coun­try’s Brexit morass on Mon­day re­jected four alternatives to the gov­ern­ment’s un­pop­u­lar Euro­pean Union di­vorce deal that would have soft­ened or even halted Bri­tain’s de­par­ture.

With just 12 days un­til the U.K. must come up with a new plan or crash out of the bloc in chaos, the House of Com­mons threw out four alternatives to Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May’s thrice-re­jected Brexit deal – though in some cases by a whisker.

The re­sult leaves the gov­ern­ment with a range of un­palat­able choices. It can gam­ble on a fourth at­tempt to push May’s unloved deal through Par­lia­ment, let Bri­tain tum­ble out of the bloc with­out a deal, or roll the dice by opt­ing for a snap elec­tion to shake up Par­lia­ment.

Brexit Sec­re­tary Stephen Bar­clay said the gov­ern­ment would con­tinue to seek sup­port for a “cred­i­ble” plan for leaving the EU.

“This house has con­tin­u­ously re­jected leaving with­out a deal just as it has re­jected not leaving at all,” he said. “There­fore the only op­tion is to find a way through which al­lows the U.K. to leave with a deal.”

May has sum­moned her Cab­i­net for a marathon meet­ing Tues­day to thrash out the op­tions. The prime min­is­ter, who is renowned for her dogged de­ter­mi­na­tion, could try to bring her Brexit agree­ment back for a fourth time later this week.

The nar­row­est de­feat – 276 votes to 273 – was for a plan to keep Bri­tain in a cus­toms union with the EU, guar­an­tee­ing smooth and tar­iff-free trade in goods. A mo­tion that went fur­ther, calling for Bri­tain to stay in the EU’s bor­der­less sin­gle mar­ket for both goods and ser­vices, was de­feated 282-261.

A third pro­posal calling for any Brexit deal Bri­tain strikes with the EU to be put to a pub­lic ref­er­en­dum was de­feated 292-280.

The fourth, which would let Bri­tain can­cel Brexit if it came within two days of crash­ing out of the bloc with­out a deal, fell by a wider mar­gin, 292-191.

May had al­ready ruled out all the ideas un­der con­sid­er­a­tion. But the di­vorce deal she ne­go­ti­ated with the EU has been re­jected by Par­lia­ment three times, leaving Bri­tain fac­ing a no-deal Brexit that could cause tur­moil for peo­ple and busi­nesses on both sides of the Chan­nel.

De­fense Min­is­ter To­bias Ell­wood urged fel­low Con­ser­va­tive law­mak­ers to com­pro­mise to en­sure an or­derly Brexit.

“When you put your deal through three times and col­leagues and oth­ers have not sup­ported it, but you still want to honor the ref­er­en­dum re­sult it­self, you still want to get out of Europe, then some­thing small has to give,” he said.

The April 12 dead­line, im­posed by the EU, gives May less than two weeks to bridge the hos­tile di­vide that sep­a­rates those in her gov­ern­ment who want to sever links with the EU and those who want to keep the ties that have bound Bri­tain to the bloc for al­most 50 years.

The im­passe is rais­ing ex­pec­ta­tions that law­mak­ers could try to trig­ger a snap elec­tion in the hope a new con­fig­u­ra­tion in Par­lia­ment would break the Brexit log­jam. But the Con­ser­va­tives are wor­ried that could hand power to the op­po­si­tion Labour Party.

The range of choices, and lack of con­sen­sus, re­flect a Par­lia­ment and a gov­ern­ment deeply di­vided over how – and whether – to leave the EU.

Jus­tice Sec­re­tary David Gauke said leaving the bloc with­out a deal was “not the re­spon­si­ble thing for a gov­ern­ment to do.”

But Chief Sec­re­tary to the Trea­sury Liz Truss said it would be bet­ter than a soft Brexit.

“I don’t have any fear of no-deal,” she said.

The Brexit im­passe has alarmed busi­nesses, who say the un­cer­tainty has de­terred in­vest­ment and un­der­mined eco­nomic growth.

JONATHAN BRADY AP

Anti-Brexit demon­stra­tors with an ef­figy of Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May near Col­lege Green at the Houses of Par­lia­ment in Lon­don on Mon­day. Bri­tain’s Par­lia­ment re­jected four alternatives to May’s un­pop­u­lar Brexit deal on Mon­day.

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