It would be a misnomer, of course, to suggest that the UK has made any major strides towards a successful divorce from the EU of course.
We still don’t know when we’re going to leave, nor exactly how or what any deal will look like.
But we did learn three important things this week: we will not be leaving the EU on the terms of Theresa May’s second withdrawal bill, there will not be a ‘no deal’ agreement under any circumstances, and Brexit will now be delayed until the summer unless the Prime Minister can magically conjure up a winning deal in the next couple of weeks.
In some ways, nothing has changed…and yet, in others, we finally have some clarity as to the whole situation will play out.
The PM will all but certainly miss her self-imposed March deadline, and thus end any hopes she had of clinging to power in 10 Downing Street after this whole debacle is finally put to bed. The vultures are already circling and vying for position, as is common in arguably the most careerist-driven industry on the planet.
Let’s take a look back at the week that was, and ponder what happens next?
Tuesday March 12, 2019 – Another Meaningful Vote
Note the date: just 17 days before Brexit was supposed to be signed, sealed and delivered.
But politicians once again chose to give the thumbs down to the Prime Minister’s divorce proposals in the second ‘meaningful vote’, with 391 of them – which included the majority of Labour MPs and 75 Tory rebels – voting against the new bill.
That was a majority of 149 votes, which is significantly better than the 230-vote defeat she suffered last time, but clearly our politicians are a million miles from any consensus on what the Brexit deal might actually look like.
Ad so it’s back to the drawing board for the PM and her advisers…
Afterwards, Theresa May confirmed that MPs would be given a ‘free vote’ – where they vote independently, rather than following any party line – on Wednesday.
Wednesday March 13, 2019 – No Deal? No Way
Usually, there is a gut feeling as to how parliamentary votes will go.
But with the no deal poll there was a clear sense that nobody quite knew how the MPs involved would vote.
And that uncertainty was proven by the results, with 312 politicians voting to ensure that a no deal Brexit was off the table, with 308 voters happy to throw the British economy into turmoil by voting that they were happy enough for that to be an option.
Most pertinently, May pleaded with Tory Party members to keep the option of a no deal on the table; that was rejected by many Conservatives, and now it would appear as if the Prime Minister has ultimately lost the support of a large swathe of the underlings.
Thursday March 14, 2019 – More Time Please
MPs were once again hauled into the House of Commons, this time to vote on an extension of Article 50, which would basically increase the amount of time the PM has to secure an EU divorce deal.
Overwhelmingly, they voted in favour of a delay to proceedings by 413 votes to 202.
Worryingly given her negotiation skills so far, May now has to request the delay from EU officials, and all 27 member states have to agree to allow the delay.
If they reject that notion, lord knows what happens next.
To the Future
At some point next week, the Prime Minster will present a third edition of her proposed withdrawal bill to the House, and if they vote for it this time then Brexit will still happen within the next couple of months after she has motioned the requisite legislation through parliament.
If MPs once again vote down her offering, the EU divorce could rumble on until the summer at the very earliest.
Incidentally, there was another vote on an attempt to secure a second Brexit referendum motioned by some Labour backbenchers; that was voted down comprehensively 334-85.
So what happens next? It’s a fair question, and as has been the case for the past couple of years nobody really seems to have the answers. Once again, our self-serving politicians are making a mess of things, and the only people being punished are a British public that is becoming increasingly frustrated by the ineptitude of their elected representatives.