BREXIT: A Week of Chaos in Parliament

A look back at a tumultuous week as well as predictions for Brexit’s future.


It’s been a long week for Parliament, as PM Theresa May made her final push to win MPs’ favour over her proposed Brexit deal.

The EU agreed to May’s 585-page long withdrawal agreement back in November. The proposed agreement would protect over three million EU citizens residing in the UK, while over 1 million UK citizens in the EU would have their rights protected. There’s also the issue of the divorce bill where the EU demanded the UK to cough up their promised contribution to the budget until 2020, totalling £39 billion.

The more contentious issue of the agreement belongs to the matter of the Irish border, known as “the Irish backstop.” Currently, trades between UK and Ireland operate in the EU single market, therefore items do not require inspection as they cross between borders during trade. However, the advent of Brexit could form a hard border between Ireland and the UK. Neither the EU nor the UK want this to happen, but the UK’s desire to leave the customs union and single market are making this nearly impossible to accomplish.

The EU also agreed to May’s slimmer 26-page political declaration, which is not a legally binding document, however it does set the bar for future dealings between the UK and the EU.

The proposed deals spent over two years in the making, with extensive negotiations between May and the other EU leaders. Despite this, the final deal failed to please Parliament. May made history on Tuesday as her deal became the largest Government defeat in a Commons vote with 432 to 202 votes in favour of rejecting the deal. 118 of those voting against actually belonged to Tories rebelling against the deal. The vote reflects just how polarising Brexit has been for the House of Commons.

May had warned on the Monday – the fourth day of the MPs Brexit debate – that if MPs try to prevent Brexit from happening, there is a risk of democracy “being put into the hands of the House of Commons rather than the people they represent”.

After the embarrassing defeat, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour government immediately tabled a Vote of No Confidence in May’s government. Less than 24 hours later, May was able to survive the vote. May was backed 325 to 306. It was the second no confidence vote inflicted upon May. The first had been in December last year by rebels in her own party, which she also survived. This vote would have merely seen the removal of May as PM. However, the Labour’s no-confidence vote could have seen the removal of May’s government and a move towards a general election.

Labour had said more no-confidence motions could follow as the Brexit fiasco continues to unravel. The same night, work and pensions Secretary and Conservative MP Amber Rudd went on BBC’s Politics Live claiming Corbyn was upsetting negotiations within the Commons and that he was acting “in bad faith.”

May has held talks with SNP, Plaid Cymru and Lib Dem leaders on Wednesday night. Following this, the opposition parties called on Corbyn in a signed letter to back the people’s vote. Jeremy Corbyn refused to take part until May ruled out a no-deal Brexit. A no deal Brexit is perhaps the worst possible outcome as it would mean the UK would effectively leave the EU on the March 29th deadline without an agreement on future relations.

May said in a letter to Corbyn that ruling out a no deal is “an impossible condition because it is not within the Government’s power to rule out no deal.” She went on to explain that the only way to rule out a no deal would be to overturn Article 50 and therefore reverse the decision made via the referendum.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon then further added to the spectacle, as she called for a second EU referendum claiming it to be the “only credible option.” SNP are juggling a push for two second referendums at the moment: desire for a second Scottish independence referendum has been strong ever since 62% of Scots voted to remain the EU, their majority simply being outvoted by the larger population of pro-Leave England. However, it seems Sturgeon is waiting for the right moment to bring up a second independence referendum, instead (like the rest of the country) focusing her attention on Brexit.

Moving forward, May will present a new withdrawal agreement plan on Monday, January 21st. The debate and vote on the plan will be held on January 29th.  Discussion of a second referendum appears to be out of the question. As the Brexit deadline fast approaches – March 29th – hopes for a swift and clean exit seem to have been dashed by this week’s events.

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