On Friday, March 29th, the Parliament in London voted for the third time on Theresa May’s Brexit deal. In June of 2016, there was a referendum for British citizens to vote whether or not they wanted to leave the European Union. The results showed that over 17 million, or about 52 per cent of the electorate wanted to leave the EU. In the time since, Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, has been working on a withdrawal agreement with the EU to make the transition as smooth as possible.
Britain was supposed to officially leave the EU this past March, however, Parliament has not been able to pass the proposed withdrawal agreement. Theresa May’s Brexit deal has been voted on and has failed in the British Parliament three times already. Taking the failure of Friday into consideration, the Brexit date will still be April 12th of this year.
The withdrawal agreement has a few key points in its almost 600-page write-up. The three major ideas to focus on include financial settlements, post-Brexit rights of British citizens, and the border discussion in Ireland. Part of the proposed agreement between the EU and Britain is a transition period. This would include a 21 month transition period after Brexit’s official start date for the British citizens to prepare for the split. This would allow businesses and the government to make the needed adjustments for becoming economically independent of Europe for the first time in almost 50 years.
The controversy around the deal is largely due to economics. For 46 years, Britain been economically interdependent with other European countries. Both major British parties are torn about how to handle this new situation. Another source of controversy is Ireland’s border with Northern Ireland, a territory which would stay with the United Kingdom. May has come up with an idea with Leo Varadkar, head of government in Ireland, to avoid border checkpoints. Her idea is called “the backstop” and has created much upheaval with Brexiteers. “The backstop” would push off any final agreement on a hard border for the two territories and those in support of Brexit are not fans of the uncertainty that would arise.
On Monday, April 1st, there will be another round of voting. Alternative options for Brexit will be brought up at this point. “No-deal” Brexit is what the future will hold if no agreement is reached in Parliament and no extensions are made for the agreement to be negotiated and passed. A “no-deal” Brexit essentially means that no agreements are made and Brexit would still occur. Renegotiations are a possible option if Parliament is adamantly against May’s deal and refuses to pass it later on. May has said that she will resign once, or if, she delivers her Brexit deal. Another referendum has also been proposed which could assess if British citizens still want to leave the EU or if they have changed their minds. Lastly, May has the power to ask MPs to vote on an early general election and if not, there is the possibility of holding another vote of no confidence. Both would effectively try to remove May from office and bring in a new Prime Minister with, hopefully, a better plan for Brexit. The regular general elections are set to happen every five years; however, the next one is not until 2022. All-in-all, Britain does have the option to cancel Brexit.
For now, the world waits on the British Parliament’s voting on Monday, April 1st.
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