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Britain's May faces mammoth task to change minds on Brexit

28 Comments
By Alastair Macdonald and Elizabeth Piper

British Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday began the mammoth struggle of persuading a deeply divided parliament to back her Brexit deal after an EU summit granted her more time but little to help change minds at home.

After a bruising day in Brussels, May secured a two-week reprieve to try to get the deal she negotiated in November through parliament at a third attempt or face a potentially chaotic departure from the European Union as soon as April 12.

EU leaders were clear that it was now up to the British parliament to decide the fate of Brexit -- to leave with a deal in a couple of months, depart without an agreement, come up with a new plan or possibly remain in the bloc.

While the Brexit deadline may have moved from March 29, however, parliament shows no sign of budging.

In fact, incensed by comments from May on Wednesday night that pinned the blame for the Brexit chaos on them, many British lawmakers have now hardened their resistance to the deal she is due to bring back before them next week.

In an appeal to lawmakers, May said in Brussels: "Last night I expressed my frustration. I know that MPs (members of parliament) are frustrated too. They have difficult jobs to do. I hope we can all agree, we are now at the moment of decision."

She needs to change the minds of 75 more lawmakers to get her deal through after it was overwhelmingly rejected twice before. In a letter to British lawmakers on Friday, May hinted she to might not hold a third vote on the deal at all if it was clear it would not be passed.

"If it appears there is not sufficient support to bring the deal back next week, or the House rejects it again, we can ask for another extension before April 12," she wrote in the letter published on Twitter by a BBC reporter.

While EU leaders were keen to heap pressure on the British parliament, some -- with the notable exception of France--suggested Britain could still win more time to prepare for a no-deal Brexit if lawmakers fail to approve the divorce deal by April 12.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar summed up the mood in Brussels when he spoke of overwhelming Brexit fatigue.

European Council President Donald Tusk said: "The fate of Brexit is in the hands of our British friends. We are, as the EU, prepared for the worst but hope for the best. As you know, hope dies last."

French President Emmanuel Macron took a potshot at Brexit advocates. "Brexiteer leaders told people leaving would be easy. Bravo."

Leaders doubted whether May could get her deal through parliament, which like the country itself is deeply split over how, or even if, Britain should leave the EU after a 2016 referendum when 52 percent backed Brexit against 48 percent.

One senior EU official said a no-deal Brexit was more likely. "We are in general well prepared. But we can use these few weeks to prepare more for the rather likely no deal scenario," the official said on condition of anonymity.

NEW VOTES

Parliament will start next week with another vote on Brexit, which business minister Greg Clark said would open the way "for parliament to express a majority of what it would approve".

Those May must win over -- eurosceptic lawmakers in her Conservative Party and the DUP, the Northern Irish party that props up her minority government, plus wavering members of the opposition Labour Party -- did not seem to be softening.

The DUP's Nigel Dodds said May had missed an opportunity to put forward proposals to EU leaders to improve the prospects of an acceptable deal, describing it as a "disappointing and inexcusable" failure.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said it was time for parliament to take over Brexit and for lawmakers to make their own decisions about Britain's future.

His deputy Tom Watson said he was prepared to back May's deal, however -- but only if she agreed to holding a second referendum, something she has repeatedly ruled out.

With parliament deadlocked, the lack of certainty is encouraging some Britons to try to influence politicians.

Hundreds of thousands are expected to march through central London on Saturday calling for a second Brexit referendum, while an online petition demanding May revoke the EU leave notice and stop Brexit has got more than 3.5 million signatures.

Seven hours of summit brainstorming on Thursday kept a host of options open for the EU leaders, who say they regret Britain's decision to leave but are eager to move on from what they increasingly see as a distraction.

Now a May 22 departure date will apply if parliament rallies behind the British prime minister next week. If it does not, Britain will have until April 12 to offer a new plan or decide to leave the European Union without a treaty.

In the case of a longer extension, the main idea is for one year, EU officials said. That would give Britain time to hold an election, and possibly a second referendum, and avoid an even longer delay that would complicate negotiations for a new long-term EU budget.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

28 Comments
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I’ll be celebrating on the 29th as the UK Prime Minister repeated again and again that the 29th would be the day of Brexit and I believe that was a meaningful statement! (maybe not)

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The public is sick and tired of this. The EU is sick and tired of this. Everybody's sick and tired of this.

Just let us leave for goodness' sake.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

The public is sick and tired of this. The EU is sick and tired of this. Everybody's sick and tired of this.

I agree. Even the BBC newscasters sigh as they read yet more Brexit 'news'.

Just let us leave for goodness' sake.

Or better idea, just drop it.

Petition to revoke Article 50 tips 3.5 million signatures

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/mar/22/petition-to-revoke-article-50-hits-3-million-signatures

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I saw a meme the other day.

You know when your mate is drunk and says let’s go to this pub so you leave but then your mate can’t find the pub and the original pub won’t let you back in and you’re arguing about it in the chip shop at 2am?

Thats Brexit.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@cleo

Or better idea, just drop it.

Petition to revoke Article 50 tips 3.5 million signatures

Interestingly, many of those opposed to leaving the EU have talked about possible foreign intervention in the EU referendum for months, even though investigations prove that no foreign actors had any impact on the vote. However, now the shoe is the other foot, they've all gone silent. A lot signatures on that petition from outside of the UK.

But I believe you'll get what you want, cleo. You have the backing of mainstream media (BBC, Sky News, Channel 4, Guardian, even the Daily Mail was bought out by a remainer 3 months ago and is publishing anti-Brexit articles on a daily basis!). You also have the backing of the political establishment, a whole host of celebrities and the EU.

We are never going to be allowed to leave.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

In all likelihood May meaningful vote will fail to gain the support necessary to negotiate a passage through the commons.

The petition politicly is an irrelevance. Article 50 cannot be revoked without a second referendum,

A second referendum that proposes a binary choice pitting May's deal and remain will be subject to host of legal challenges, potentially festering on for years

However the real political litmus test will manifest between MP's who choose principle over pragmatism The question posed at the ballot box will be crucial to the outcome.

The 23rd June 2016 referendum offered a simple option between the status quo and change, in or out ,should the UK remain in the EU, or leave.

A three options proposal, offering three choices, the resultant decision applied by a single transferable vote, a system presented to Parliament for 2011 referendum on changing how MPs are elected rejected the whole principle of an alternative vote by some 78% .

Any arrangement that proposed May's deal and remain could be construed as a repudiation of the 2016 referendum result. The resultant political toxicity to the voting electorate would have disastrous consequences.

Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn have both on numinous occasions pledged and promised to respect the 2016 referendum result.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Why did David Cameron resign as PM? Because the British electorate made a mistake?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The Brexit car has hit a wall!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Why did David Cameron resign as PM? Because the British electorate made a mistake?

Cameron, a Europhile, offered a referendum in a desperate and selfish bid to stop his MPs defecting to UKIP and to stop Eurosceptic Tory voters voting UKIP. He then campaigned for remain and saw a majority of the UK public vote out. His credibility was shot and he left the country in chaos.

He will be remembered, with May, as one of the worst postwar Prime Ministers.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Sign the petition to revoke article 50:

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/241584

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Interestingly, many of those opposed to leaving the EU have talked about possible foreign intervention in the EU referendum for months, even though investigations prove that no foreign actors had any impact on the vote. However, now the shoe is the other foot, they've all gone silent. A lot signatures on that petition from outside of the UK.

How much is "a lot" in your view?

Plenty of Brits live overseas anyway.

I'm not "silent", and happy to discuss.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

* *A lot signatures on that petition from outside of the UK.

Tweet from Parliament's petitions committee : “A few people have been talking about fraud and overseas signatures. As of this afternoon, approximately 96% of signatures on the petition were from the UK. That’s broadly what we’d expect for a petition like this.”

“People have been asking about who can sign petitions. Anyone who is a UK resident or a British citizen can sign a petition. This includes British citizens living overseas.”

Just 4% of signatories are from outside the UK with the majority coming from countries with large British expat populations like France, Spain, Germany and the US.

The petition is now just a whisker short of 4 million.

Meanwhile, a new petition from Brexiteers in support of a no-deal Brexit had managed just 400,000 people by early Saturday morning.

https://www.theneweuropean.co.uk/top-stories/brexit-petition-to-hit-4-million-signatures-on-government-website-1-5954637

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@Ah_so

Yes, thousands of Brits do live overseas, but when you have tens of thousands of signatures from Luxembourg which only has a population of just under 600,000 (British community is 5,900), you know it's dodgy.

https://order-order.com/2019/03/21/foreign-actors-hijack-article-50-petition-fake-signatures/

In fact, some people have been boasting about creating computer scripts to automatically resign the petition. One guy is claiming that he managed 33,000 signatures. Some have tested this out, and yes, you can sign the petition multiple times providing you change the email address.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Some have tested this out, and yes, you can sign the petition multiple times providing you change the email address.

I will give some credit for this - I refreshed the count at one point and it actually dropped briefly suggesting that the technology employed is stripping out any dodgy signatures.

Yes you can sign multiple times if you have multiple email addresses and keeping using different names and addresses and then go to your email to verify your signature, but this seems very drawn out.

Who is this guy who signed it 33000 times? It seems odd to prepare a script to to do this and then discredit both your own votes and the whole petition. Please provide your evidence.

You mention tens of thousands from Luxembourg- again can you point the readership to the data? I’ve been on the website and can’t find it

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The petition is now just a whisker short of 4 million.

Now over, but 4m signed the petition for a second referendum, and that did not help.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

tens of thousands of signatures from Luxembourg which only has a population of just under 600,000 (British community is 5,900

I've just read the relevant data on the petition site. Currently 1196 residents of Luxembourg have signed it, equivalent to only 20% of the resident British population.

I question your data source. Sounds like you are repeating someone else's propaganda ("propaganda" being the polite word).

Shockingly less than a thousand in Japan have signed it.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The UK Government and Parliament Petitions registrar is a valued and useful formal method for the electorate to express opinion.

To bot and troll this portal as a clandestine way to foster discontent and exploit resentment is childishly petulant and frankly treacherous.

If the public want to express there wish to remain or leave then I suggest they formally put pen to paper or e mail there MP.

A ever growing number of Parliamentarians deserved to be placed in the Stocks/Pillory, it is time to go medieval

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Some have tested this out, and yes, you can sign the petition multiple times providing you change the email address.

You need to click on a link they send to your email address to be able to sign. So 'one guy' has 33,000 separate email addresses?

Your 'Guido Fawkes' link, by the way, makes claims with nothing at all to back it up.

you have tens of thousands of signatures from Luxembourg

The petition site states 1196 signatures from Luxembourg.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

https://www.channel4.com/news/brexit-campaigner-i-signed-petition-three-times-with-the-names-tusk-juncker-and-barnier

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

https://petitionmap.unboxedconsulting.com/?petition=241584&area=uk

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

https://www.channel4.com/news/brexit-campaigner-i-signed-petition-three-times-with-the-names-tusk-juncker-and-barnier

Brexit campaigner: ‘I signed petition three times – with the names Tusk, Juncker and Barnier’

3 votes? So what? And signed by a Brexiteer seeking to undermine it. And there is software that monitors fake signatures and removes them.

https://petitionmap.unboxedconsulting.com/?petition=241584&area=uk

The support is from all over the UK.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It is a crying shame, there is oodles of data on petitionmap if only a more robust criteria had been adopted to authenticate signatures.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Ah_so

The support is from all over the UK.

My intention was to show that the support for the petition seems to be mostly concentrated in small pockets around the UK. I wasn't trying to display the signatures from outside the UK.

I must also apologise as it seems the claim of 33,000 signatures is a misquote. A 4chan user claimed to have made 33,000 signatures on the UK Government petition site in 2016 calling for a second referendum. Here is the BBC news article:

https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-36640459

As you can see from the article, they managed to obtain 3.6 million signatures, but as it says:

Thousands of signatures from countries such as North Korea and the South Sandwich Islands have been removed, and a majority of the signatures now appear to come from the UK.

But many could have been added by automated programs called bots and the petition continues to gather hundreds of signatures a minute.

It also mentions:

The government's petitions website does not appear to have a system in place to detect bots - such as a "captcha" picture that asks a user to recognise letters and numbers in an image, a task which is more difficult to automate.

"It seems like a huge oversight for a website designed to be used by so many people to lack simple protection," said Mr Ferguson.

So, while I have no doubt there are millions of people in and out of the UK that want to reverse Brexit, the petition is worthless. That is why I posted a link of the video with the Brexiteer who said he had signed three times. The petition can be exploited so easily.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

To be fair Tangerine2000, metric based validation tools are sit down costly. The validation specifications data test for National Audit Office benchmarking. The budget requires seriously deep pockets.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Having said that, £500,000 to say £800,000 could produce an more robust indicative on-line intention model for a second referendum.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

https://order-order.com/2019/03/21/foreign-actors-hijack-article-50-petition-fake-signatures/

Guido Fawkes. You must be joking - a far-right, libertarian chancer formerly in the pay of Rupert Murdoch.

https://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Paul_Staines

Why is it that so many of these Brexiteer names that keep cropping up are dodgy, shady types with links to far-right American billionaires, dubious Saudi Princes, sketchy think-tanks funded by Robert Mercer or Charles Koch and lots of Russians?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Looks like Brexit is going to be cancelled. So now what. Back to the EU ? Will the UK be even accepted with open arms and step back into its former role ?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Will the UK be even accepted with open arms and step back into its former role ?

What role was that? Being a pain in the arse?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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