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May tries to break Brexit deadlock with offer of 'new deal'

30 Comments
By William James and Elizabeth Piper

Prime Minister Theresa May set out a "new deal" on Tuesday for Britain's departure from the European Union, offering sweeteners to parliament including the chance to vote on whether to hold a second referendum to try to break the impasse over Brexit.

Three years after Britain voted to leave the EU and almost two months after the planned departure date, May is mounting a last effort to try to get the deeply divided parliament's backing for a divorce deal and leave office with some kind of legacy.

The odds do not look good.

May offered what she called "significant further changes" but many lawmakers, hardened in their positions, have already decided not to vote next month for the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, legislation that implements the terms of Britain's departure.

Speaking at the headquarters of PricewaterhouseCoopers, May appealed to lawmakers to get behind her deal, offering the prospect of a possible second referendum on the agreement and closer trading arrangements with the EU as incentives.

"I say with conviction to every MP or every party: I have compromised, now I ask you to compromise," she said.

"We have been given a clear instruction by the people we are supposed to represent, so help me find a way to honour that instruction, move our country and our politics and build the better future that all of us want to see."

By offering the possibility of holding a second vote on her deal and a compromise on customs arrangements, May hopes to win over opposition Labour lawmakers, whose votes she needs to overcome resistance in her own Conservative Party.

But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said his party could not vote for the Withdrawal Bill, describing May's new offer as"largely a rehash of the government's position" in talks with the opposition that broke down last week.

The prime minister has also infuriated Brexit-supporting lawmakers, who have described a customs union with the EU as no Brexit at all.

Several leading Conservative eurosceptics such as former Brexit minister David Davis and Jacob Rees-Mogg said they would not vote for the bill in early June.

Former foreign minister Boris Johnson and ex Brexit minister Dominic Raab, who are the top two favorite choices among Conservative members to replace May according to an opinion poll published last week, also said they would oppose the deal.

And Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party, which props up May's government, said the "fatal flaws" of her original deal remained. They fear the divorce deal could see Northern Ireland split from the rest of the United Kingdom.

May's movement towards what many describe as the "Remain" lawmakers, who want to stay in the EU, is a shift for a prime minister who has long said she is against a second referendum and staying in a customs union with the bloc.

She may be counting on the fact that parliament - which would have to back any new referendum - has so far opposed any second public vote and also that a "temporary" customs union might just be weak enough for some in her party to accept.

But it signals how her earlier strategy, to keep Brexit supporters on board, has failed and the last-ditch attempt to get Labour lawmakers - if not their leader - behind her is simply too little, too late, some say.

"It's a gimmick from a desperate PM who has run out of road, refuses to compromise and for three years has sidelined parliament and the country," Labour lawmaker Seema Malhotra told Reuters.

Brexit-supporting Conservatives were equally unconvinced.

David Jones, a former minister, described the speech as"unacceptable" and predicted that the move just before Thursday's elections to the European Parliament would only buoy support for veteran eurosceptic Nigel Farage's Brexit Party.

"I believe more Conservatives will vote against it," he told Reuters. "Regrettably, it will probably also boost the Brexit Party vote on Thursday."

May wants to get her withdrawal deal, agreed with the EU last November, through parliament so she can leave office as promised having at least finalised the first part of Britain's departure and prevented a "no deal" Brexit.

The deal has been rejected three times by parliament but many businesses fear that the abrupt departure of an exit with no deal agreed would cause an economic shock.

Finance minister Philip Hammond rammed the point home in parliament on Tuesday, saying a no-deal Brexit would leave Britain poorer. He was expected to send the same message to business leaders in a speech later in the day.

"The 2016 Leave campaign was clear that we would leave with a deal," he was set to say, according to advance extracts.

"So to advocate for 'no deal' is to hijack the result of the referendum, and in doing so, knowingly to inflict damage on our economy and our living standards. Because all the preparation in the world will not avoid the consequences of no deal."

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

30 Comments
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Britain needs a second referendum. It does not need Boris Johnson.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Britain needs its politicians to respect the result of the first referendum and implement it. It does not need a second one.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

May's new deal is just a cynical reiteration of the same agreement that EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier achieved running rings around the UK incompetent negotiators.

If Farage Brexit Party can recruit and build a comprehensive political apparatus and fund a full General Election campaign, there is much more certainty and likeihood for change in UK political future.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

To call for a second referendum is astonishing arrogance.

Then to cheat and rig that referendum, with a choice of EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier withdrawal deal or remain, is swivel-eyed tricky, a treasonous betrayal.

Out with the current deceitful parliamentary establishment. A whole new brand of political governance must deliver directly accountable leadership and the authority for change.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

The vote was made by a majority of 1.4 million, NO to a 2nd referendum,

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Given the narrowness of the first referendum and given that there was no clear vision of what Brexit would look like, then a second referendum is the only fair thing to give the British electorate.

Those who oppose this are nearly all Brexit supporters and that is because they know it is likely that they would lose. In other words, they are frightened that the population of the UK opposes Brexit.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Given the clear winning majority of 1.2 million in the first referendum and given that all politcians on both sides said that if the UK voted to leave, it would leave under all circumstances, then a second referendum is a completely unfair thing to give the British electorate and very undemocratic.

Those who oppose this are nearly all Remain supporters and that is because they won't accept the result until it goes their way (2nd, 3rd, 4th time). In other words, they are frightened that the majority of the population of the UK supports Brexit.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

There is only two scenarios, two options;

To continue as a member state and ultimately accept a political federal trans-governmental representation.......

Or, make a complete political and economic clean break.......

There is no alternative proviso, article, or protocol within the Lisbon Treaty to deviate.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Given the clear winning majority of 1.2 million in the first referendum and given that all politcians on both sides said that if the UK voted to leave, it would leave under all circumstances, then a second referendum is a completely unfair thing to give the British electorate and very undemocratic.

Yeah. Imagine if they did another referendum, and it turned out that the people don't actually want to leave anymore! Think how cheated those minority of British who still want to leave would feel! We need to protect their minority rights to not finding out what the people think now, over the actual wishes of the people who will have to live with the consequences.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Yeah. Imagine holding a referendum in 2016, and it turned out that the people actually want to leave! Think how cheated those minority of British who want to stay would feel! We need to protect their minority rights to not implement the result, over the actual wishes of the people who will have to live with the consequences.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

they are frightened that the majority of the population of the UK supports Brexit.

Why would Remainers want a second referendum if they think that the majority of the population of the UK supports Brexit? They would simply be setting themselves up for more pain.

It's the Brexiteers who are afraid: afraid that with the nuts and bolts on the table (all the stuff that was either hidden or blatantly lied about in the lead-up to the first referendum) more people will see sense and decided that the status quo is better than being cast adrift on the open ocean of WTO, defenceless against the gaping maws of Trump's USA and Xi's China.

And it's not only about people 'changing their minds'; folk (on both sides) who didn't vote in 2016 because it was - apparently - a foregone conclusion that Remain would win, should be allowed the chance to have their say uninfluenced by the polls.

The 2016 referendum wasn't in fact legally binding - referendums in the UK never are. Parliament is sovereign, and since the MPs cannot come to any kind of agreement on how to do Brexit, or even if Brexit should be done at all, the sensible way forward is surely to shelve the whole idea, carry on as before, and if there are calls for it, raise the question again in say, ten years' time. And this time make the question sensible, include under 18s in the vote (it's their future, after all) and set a proper threshold: for a constitutional change as massive as Brexit, that should be of the order of 60~66% of either votes cast or the entire electorate - not a simple wafer-thin majority of those who voted (which was a mere 37% of the restricted electorate).

A House of Commons Briefing Paper 07212 (pdf download), published on 3 June 2015, pointed out to MPs, members of the House of Lords and other readers that the referendum was advisory only, and would not be binding on Parliament or government. This point was iterated viva voce by the Minister for Europe in the debate in the House of Commons later that month. This was the reason given for not including a threshold and for not extending the franchise appropriately. The outcome was that 37% of the restricted electorate given the franchise for the referendum voted to leave the EU. This outcome is by any standards insufficient to justify a constitutional change so significant as the UK’s exiting the EU.

https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/brexit/2017/09/28/the-eu-referendum-was-gerrymandered/

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Those who oppose this are nearly all Remain supporters and that is because they won't accept the result until it goes their way (2nd, 3rd, 4th time). In other words, they are frightened that the majority of the population of the UK supports Brexit.

Nonsense. I want a second referendum. A less than 2% majority is not enough for such permanent and drastic change. If people still want to vote for it, let them and the result will stand.

I would favour a three-option single transferable vote - remain, soft brexit, hard brexit. This is probably the fairest.

If no referendum is offered then I would favour a Brexit it all but name Norway plus.

The likes of you will not be able to complain because we would have left without a second referendum.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

You act as if people didn't choose to leave the EU.

Why should people who want to stay in the EU have more precedence over a democratic vote?

It's very clear that you guys are just afraid that the people won't agree with you anymore, so you'd rather suppress the result, rather than accepting the position based on a poll which had the highest turnout in British history.

Which is pretty anti-democratic.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@cleo

Why would Remainers want a second referendum if they think that the majority of the population of the UK supports Brexit? They would simply be setting themselves up for more pain.

Because at this point, they'll take anything that gives them the slightest glimmer of remaining.

@Ah_so

The likes of you will not be able to complain because we would have left without a second referendum.

We're leaving. We had a vote, leave won, ignoring that result would open Pandora's box.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

You act as if people didn't choose to leave the EU.

Most people didn't. Only 37% of a restricted electorate.

Scotland, Northern Ireland and London all voted overwhelmingly to Remain.

Why should people who want to stay in the EU have more precedence over a democratic vote?

They shouldn't. Neither should a minority who want to leave.

So let's have a democratic vote. (No, the 2016 one wasn't democratic.)

Because at this point, they'll take anything that gives them the slightest glimmer of remaining.

A total non-sequitur. If Remainers are frightened that the majority of the population of the UK supports Brexit, then a second referendum would offer them not the slightest glimmer of hope (which is what I imagine you mean by glimmer of remaining). It's the Brexiteers who are afraid. If you're so sure that you have the majority of the country firmly behind you, what harm would there be in sealing the deal once and for all with a resounding win at the ballot box?

ignoring that result would open Pandora's box.

It was holding the stupid referendum in the first place that opened Pandora's box. Now look at the sorry state of the country.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@cleo

Scotland, Northern Ireland and London all voted overwhelmingly to Remain.

The UK voted as a whole.

It's the Brexiteers who are afraid. If you're so sure that you have the majority of the country firmly behind you, what harm would there be in sealing the deal once and for all with a resounding win at the ballot box?

There is a democratic election on Thursday. If as you say, a majority want to remain, then they have the perfect opportunity to voice that opinion then.

If the combined total of votes for Change UK, SNP, Plaid, Lib Dems and Greens is higher than the combined total of the Brexit Party, UKIP and the Tories, I will be convinced that there is a case for another referendum.

It's not going to happen though.

Labour's policy is anybody's guess as they claim to represent leave and remain
-1 ( +0 / -1 )

It is worth taking a moment to understand the European parliamentary election voting system and the use of proportional presentation......

European Parliament Liaison Office in the United Kingdom - The Voting System

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/unitedkingdom/en/european-elections/european_elections/the_voting_system.html

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The Brexit vote was probably the first time true Democracy has ever occurred within the entire British History.

Sadly what happened afterwards has shown just how dysfunctional current British "Democratically" Elected Politicians can be.

What next ? May is out. Sarcastically speaking she should leave at the end of May....

Her successor - the flamboyant Boris Johnson, will likely fair no better. His best bet would be to be decisive, and dissolve Parliament, hold a general Election - which they'd loose, but then Labour wouldn't win either.

Hopefully the "Brexit Party" would win hands down, take us out of the UK, and then either do exceptionally well running the Country (down at the Pub), or hold another Election so that we could go back to the old 2-party race to nowhere.

If the "Brexit Party" didn't win, then the UK would be facing having to form a Coalition Government, which would potentially then seek to rejoin Europe... (or simply just repeat the dysfunctionalism we've seen todate). If this happens, then Law & Order across the UK would be the biggest concern - as Social unrest will simply explode - more so that what has been going on at present, watch for the tensions between the Muslim and Non-Muslim communities exploding as that's a tinder box just waiting to fire up.

In short, apart from Leaving Europe, the UK needs a radical overhaul in order to rejuvenate itself. It's form of Democracy has been proven to be non-functional, and something needs to be done about that, something that does not entail either the reinstatement of the Monarchy or installment of a Dictatorship. The UK peoples have been let down by a succession of bad management by both Major Political parties over the past couple of decades - it's time now for them to get their act together, put the House in order and move forward to a successful future - anything less than that is simply not worth worrying over.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

This is somewhat shameful reading:

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-48354692

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

There should be no second referendum although I don't agree with leaving the EU. If no deal can be made then we should just leave. The page, chapter and book of Brexit was entirely the makings by the conservative tory party who will go down as the worse parliament in history.

They could cancel the Brexit but would still dishonour the referendum.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

We're leaving. We had a vote, leave won, ignoring that result would open Pandora's box.

That box is already well and truly open. And those opposing a second referendum are clearly admitting that they fear remain would win.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I don’t support a second referendum. We already had one and the majority voted to leave so cancel Article 50 or leave by the date regardless of the terms. General election.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@Zichi

A minute majority voted to leave, many of them basing their decision on the lies told to them by the Conservatives, but there was also another 700,000 British citizens living abroad who were not permitted to vote, but still stand to lose their right to live in Europe, where many of them have made their homes.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The UK voted as a whole.

And now it's in the hole. Great.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Hello Kitty 321

Had I not had my British vote removed for living oversea for more than 15 years, I would have voted to remain. My London based family voted to remain, my Liverpool family voted to leave.

I strongly believe while I remain a British citizen and hold a British passport, I should also have the right to vote. When it comes to voting, I'm "stateless". I have no British vote, no Japanese vote since I'm not a national and no America vote even though I own property, have family, pay dollar tax and my mother and step father were American.

So I know only too well about being disenfranchised.

Nonetheless, a referendum was held with the government of the day stating it would accept the outcome of the vote.

The UK and the EU have agreed if its does leave the EU citizens can continue to live in the EU or the UK. My youngest brother has lived in Italy for more than 30 years and would never be required to leave regardless of the UK leaving the EU.

99.92% of the voters, voted. 51.89% voted leave. 48.11% voted remain. But the leave vote won and by a majority even if small.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Had I not had my British vote removed for living oversea for more than 15 years, I would have voted to remain

You and me both, zichi.

a referendum was held with the government of the day stating it would accept the outcome of the vote.

But when the results were out the 'government of the day' scarpered. Cameron gone, those pushing most for Leave - Johnson, Rees-Mogg et al - also declining to take responsibility for Leave. It was left up to a Remainer, Theresa May, to try to do something with an irretrievable mess.

99.92% of the voters, voted.

If you mean turnout, that was certainly pretty high, at 72.2%, but certainly not 99.92%. Dunno where you got that. Of the turnout, yes, 51.89% voted Leave, but that was only 37% of the electorate.

The Scotland Independence referendum had a threshold of 40% of the electorate. If the EU referendum had had the same rules as the Scotland vote (and for such a momentous decision, it should have) then Leave would have Lost.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

cleo,

yes but the majority of the people who voted, who were able to vote, voted to leave, that's how the system always works. First past the post. The conservative party remained in power after the referendum and after the general election. It agreed to accept the referendum.

Leave 17,410,742. 51.89%

Remain 16,141,241. 48.11%

Valid votes 33,551,983. 99. 92%

Invalid or blank votes 25,359. 0.08%

Total votes 33,577,342. 100.00%

Registered voters/turnout 46,500,001. 72.21%

No to a second referendum. The choices for me are (i)leave with an agreement. (ii)leave with no agreement. (iii) cancel Article 50. Regardless hold a general election.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

 that's how the system always works. First past the post. 

No, it isn't. This wasn't a general election. According to the High Court,

*a referendum on any topic can only be advisory for the lawmakers in Parliament unless very clear language to the contrary is used in the referendum legislation in question. *No such language is used in the 2015 Referendum Act.

https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/r-miller-v-secretary-of-state-for-exiting-eu-amended-20161122.pdf#page=32

In other words, the claim that 'the result of the referendum must be honoured' because 'to do otherwise would be undemocratic' is balderdash; taking the result of an advisory referendum as binding goes against the law of the land and is in itself undemocratic. Politicians who claimed/claim that the result must be binding are charlatans and liars.

The choices for me are (i)leave with an agreement. (ii)leave with no agreement. (iii) cancel Article 50.

(iii).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

cleo

we will differ on this one. Yes referendums are not legal but the government agreed to accept the result. If the vote had been for remain would you have objected? So I accept the result, the politicians are still out on it.

So no point holding a second referendum which also won't be legal.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I stand by my claim, that the Brexit vote, was the only Democratic vote in the UK's entire History.

1 Agenda : 1 Person : 1 Vote

No voting constituency boundary manipulations, just a simple vote Yes/No at the Agenda level.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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