Brexit Backstop Madness, UK Amendment Passes: EU Response "No Renegotiation"
Brady Amendment Passes
The Brady amendment, supported by Theresa May as the way forward passed by a mere 16 votes.
May told MPs that supporting the Brady amendment would show the EU that there needed to be “significant” and “legally binding” changes to the Irish backstop to reassure MPs the UK would not be trapped within it.
Cooper Amendment Fails
An amendment backed by the Labour MP Yvette Cooper ordering the government to ask for an extension was defeated on Tuesday evening but the Commons is set to vote again in mid-February.
This is all absurd. The UK is not in a position to dictate what the EU can or cannot do.
Official Line: No Renegotiation
Theresa May knows full well that the UK parliament is not in control of this. Every EU nation would have to agree
The EU quickly responded No Renegotiation.
European Council President Donald Tusk urged the prime minister to explain her next steps, claiming the agreement negotiated over the last 20 months “remains the best and only way to ensure an orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. The backstop is part of the withdrawal agreement and the withdrawal agreement is not open for re-negotiation."
French President Emmanuel Macron also ruled out renegotiation.
Ireland's Deputy Prime Minister
Seemingly Absurd UK Position
The Guardian discusses the Absurdity of the Commons Vote.
Welsh first minister, Mark Drakeford, described the prime minister’s claim she can renegotiate the deal in the light of tonight’s votes as “staggering”.
"With no new ideas and red lines firmly still in place, the UK government is simply running down the clock in a vain hope that their deal will pass. Today has lost us more crucial time and the UK government must take decisive action and act on the majority will of parliament to rule out no deal."
Running Down the Clock
The seemingly absurd position (from a legal standpoint) is not so absurd if you under stand the true point of it all: This is an effort by May to run down the clock.
Curiously, many of the Remainers also want to run down the clock.
Both groups feel the best way to get what they want is to run down the clock then magically everyone will support their point of view.
Brexit Central provides the Amendment Scorecard
- Amendment tabled by Dame Caroline Spelman Purpose: To reject the UK leaving the European Union “without a Withdrawal Agreement and a Framework for the Future Relationship”. Result: Passed by 318 votes to 310 (majority: 8)
- Amendment tabled by Sir Graham Brady (backed by the Government) Purpose: To require that the Northern Ireland backstop be “replaced with alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border” while supporting the notion of leaving the EU with a deal and therefore supporting the Withdrawal Agreement subject to this change. Result: Passed by 317 votes to 301 (majority: 16)
- Official Labour Amendment tabled by Jeremy Corbyn: To secure sufficient time for Parliament to consider and vote on options to prevent a no-deal Brexit and that those options should include: (i) Negotiating changes to the deal so as to secure “a permanent customs union with the EU, ... Result: Defeated by 327 votes to 296 (majority: 31)
- Official SNP Amendment tabled by Ian Blackford: To call on the Government to seek an extension of the Article 50 period, rule out a no-deal Brexit and assert that “the people of Scotland should not be taken out of the EU against their will”. Result: Defeated by 327 votes to 39 (majority: 288)
- Amendment tabled by Dominic Grieve Purpose: To override long-standing Commons Standing Orders and dictate that there will be six and half hours of debate on Brexit in the Commons on the six successive sitting Tuesdays beginning on 12th February on motions that will be amendable. Result: Defeated by 321 votes to 301 (majority: 20)
- Amendment tabled by Yvette Cooper (backed by the Labour frontbench) Purpose: To override long-standing Commons Standing Orders and dictate that next Tuesday’s Commons business will be proceedings on Yvette Cooper’s European Union (Withdrawal) (No 3) Bill which would direct the Prime Minister to seek an extension of the Article 50 period until 31st December 2019. Result: Defeated by 321 votes to 298 (majority: 23)
- Amendment tabled by Rachel Reeves Purpose: To require the Prime Minister to seek an extension of the Article 50 period if a Brexit deal has not been agreed by the House of Commons by 26th February. Result: Defeated by 322 votes to 290 (majority: 32)
Pound Speculation Ahead of the Vote
It appears Patel believes Brady increases the odds of a WTO-Brexit while Cooper reduces that.
I am not so sure in practice. Neither are binding.
British Pound Reaction
Supposedly the UK cannot leave without a deal, nor can the UK leave without alternative arrangements to a hard border.
Meanwhile, repeat after me:
- The default position is what it has been for two years: WTO-Brexit.
- There is noting to fear from a WTO-Brexit. It won't be a crash.
Preparations for that event will accelerate after today. And that will further lesson the fear of it all.
Moreover, it is reasonable to assume Dame Caroline Spelman's proposal helps in that regard.
I believe an extension will be requested, and granted, even if only to make provisions for a WTO-Brexit.
The binary choice remains: WTO-Brexit vs May's Deal.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock