With six months to go, Brexit is still baffling

With six months to go before Britain formally leaves the European Union on March 29, 2019, Brexit has never ...

Posted: Sep 29, 2018 12:58 PM
Updated: Sep 29, 2018 12:58 PM

With six months to go before Britain formally leaves the European Union on March 29, 2019, Brexit has never looked more baffling.

Last week, the UK's official opposition Labour Party formally backed a policy that could lead to a second EU referendum.

Brexit

Continents and regions

Elections and campaigns

Europe

European Union

Government and public administration

Government organizations - Intl

Northern Europe

Political Figures - Intl

Politics

Theresa May

United Kingdom

Boris Johnson

Government bodies and offices

Legislative bodies

So, finally all those people who want to scrap Brexit altogether have something to hang on to, right?

Not exactly.

Let's start from the beginning. The governing Conservative Party is bitterly divided on exactly what Brexit should look like.

Prime Minister Theresa May has put to Brussels her so-called Chequers plan for what she thinks the future relationship between the UK and the EU should be.

It uses lots of suspiciously Remain-friendly language like a "common rulebook for all goods including agri-foods" and describes a "facilitated customs agreement" that treats the UK and the EU "as if a combined customs territory".

This means there would be no need for customs checks at the border -- thus removing the need for a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

But it also leaves room for regulatory flexibility, allowing Britain to be competitive in certain areas once free from the EU and crucially, Chequers would see an end to legal oversight from the European Court of Justice in the UK.

Cabinet departures

May's deal was an attempt to paper over the cracks in her party between those who want to remain very closely tied to the EU, those who want to storm off and go it alone and every position in between. She also has to make sure she doesn't lose the 10 votes of the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party, who prop up May's Conservatives in Parliament.

It didn't work. Her plan led to two high-profile resignations. First, her Brexit Secretary David Davis. Then, her Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson.

These two men -- who since resigning have described Chequers as effectively wrapping "a suicide vest around the British constitution" and handing the "detonator" to Brussels (Johnson) and as a deal that "falls far short" of delivering "what the British people were promised during the referendum" (Davis) -- have thrown their weight behind a different plan, which would see a far looser trading arrangement between the UK and the EU, but allowing for greater trading opportunities elsewhere.

If you can bear to read it, Johnson has outlined his plan for a "SuperCanada" free trade deal in no fewer than 4,500 words in the Daily Telegraph newspaper. The timing of this pitch for his version of Brexit is significant, as it comes days before the Conservative's annual party conference after months of speculation about May's leadership.

A divided party is a major problem for May. Had she not lost her parliamentary majority in last year's disastrous snap election, it's possible that she could have forced her disgruntled MPs to swallow whatever Brexit deal she wanted.

But now, with two high-profile former ministers whipping up her rebellious backbenchers and the nightmare of her reliance on the DUP in parliament, it's hard to see a way through for her.

Second vote?

This is where the Labour Party comes in.

Labour's call for a second public vote would only happen in the event that May is unable to get her Brexit deal through Parliament, then fails to hold a general election. Of course, the unspoken reality here is that without a general election and taking power from the Conservatives, Labour lacks the authority to hold such a vote. And even then, Labour has been a little fudgy on the issue of whether Remain would even be an option on the ballot paper.

What is possible, however, is this: May's Brexit plan could fail to make it through Parliament which, after some boring constitutional nonsense, could lead to her government falling, forcing a general election.

Presumably, both parties would then offer detailed outlines of their Brexit plans in their election manifestos, offering the public a clear choice. Should either party win an outright majority, then there may be no need for a second public vote.

For what it's worth, the Labour Party is not tremendously clear on Brexit, either. Loosely speaking, Labour wants to remain in the Customs Union to avoid a hard border in Ireland and keep all the benefits of single market access (for those who really care, you can read the Labour Party's Six Key Tests for a final Brexit deal, which Jeremy Corbyn somewhat amusingly forgot in a broadcast interview last week).

Even more confusingly, Corbyn also said last week that he would vote with the government to push through May's Brexit plan if she committed to remaining in the Customs Union, which would mean the Conservative plan being dictated and voted through by Labour. That would lead to even more chaos for both parties.

It's hard to predict exactly how MPs will vote when the Brexit deal arrives. The majority of the House of Commons was opposed to Brexit, yet still voted to trigger Article 50. With the threat of a no-deal crash exit hanging over them, will they vote against May and risk a calamity?

Or will the unhappy Remainers hold their nerve and hope that events will play in their favor? And it's worth remembering that all of this is still Britain negotiating with itself -- Brussels has not agreed with May's Chequers proposal, the only plan formally on the table, soon after it was published.

So, what does the next six months look like for Britain? From the madness described above, goodness knows. But given the divisions in British politics and May's habit of clinging onto power, business as usual and months more of zombie governance is as likely an outcome as any.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 13731

Reported Deaths: 652
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds89824
Lauderdale68056
Madison65321
Scott59210
Neshoba51431
Jones49215
Forrest48635
DeSoto4746
Leake38810
Holmes36923
Rankin3566
Jackson29613
Copiah2844
Attala27314
Monroe24624
Lincoln24520
Leflore24126
Harrison2376
Newton2273
Lamar2205
Yazoo2192
Pearl River20527
Pike20011
Adams18815
Noxubee1656
Lowndes1647
Warren1547
Washington1535
Jasper1453
Bolivar14111
Oktibbeha13910
Covington1311
Clarke13116
Smith13110
Kemper12710
Chickasaw12712
Wayne1250
Lafayette1243
Carroll11310
Marion1108
Lee1085
Coahoma1063
Clay993
Winston981
Lawrence941
Hancock8811
Itawamba857
Simpson850
Wilkinson849
Yalobusha845
Montgomery801
Sunflower793
Grenada752
Union725
Marshall713
Jefferson Davis712
Tippah7011
Panola622
Calhoun604
Tate591
Claiborne582
Humphreys537
Amite521
Walthall490
Perry492
Tunica483
Jefferson400
Prentiss393
Choctaw322
Stone300
Webster281
Pontotoc263
Franklin252
Tishomingo250
Quitman240
Tallahatchie241
George201
Benton150
Alcorn141
Greene71
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 15650

Reported Deaths: 580
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2033111
Jefferson163091
Montgomery127433
Marshall6509
Tuscaloosa55812
Lee51032
Franklin4676
Shelby44719
Tallapoosa40063
Butler35912
Chambers33724
Madison3024
Baldwin2749
Elmore2707
Walker2391
Etowah23811
DeKalb2263
Dallas2063
Coffee2061
Lowndes19310
Sumter1936
Morgan1761
Houston1724
Autauga1683
Calhoun1463
Pike1450
Choctaw1444
Colbert1422
Marengo1416
Russell1370
Lauderdale1352
Bullock1333
Hale1324
Randolph1247
Wilcox1187
Marion11410
Barbour1131
Clarke1092
St. Clair1041
Pickens934
Greene914
Talladega912
Chilton871
Dale850
Cullman780
Limestone770
Jackson712
Winston670
Covington671
Washington655
Henry642
Macon622
Crenshaw602
Bibb591
Blount491
Lawrence430
Escambia433
Perry350
Geneva350
Coosa341
Monroe332
Cherokee332
Conecuh281
Clay272
Lamar200
Cleburne131
Fayette110
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Overcast
72° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 72°
Columbus
Overcast
71° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 71°
Oxford
Broken Clouds
70° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 70°
Starkville
Overcast
68° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 68°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather