We need more time to agree a Brexit destination: we must stop the clock
4 April 2019
Another week, another set of votes that leaves everyone none the wiser on the form Brexit will actually take.The Prime Minister now accepts we need more time and has requested an extension to 30 June, but is relying on the EU to grant it.The broad view is that the EU will likely refuse this short extension due to the EU elections and the deadlock in the House of Commons.
On Monday our Brexit team was down in Westminster with our Stop the Clock campaign, which was this time picked up by Bloomberg’s cameras. While they were there, Brexit Policy Manager, Sophia Wolpers set out to camera why it is so important that we avoid no deal. Our Communications Director, Laura Osborne, also had this to say on the customs union, which would be a step in the right direction, but isn’t a silver bullet for our service-based economy.
Monday night’s round of indicative votes, didn’t show a majority for any one of the options put to MPs, which included the customs union, common market, a confirmatory vote and revocation of Article 50 if a no deal scenario becomes imminent.
The customs union had the highest support as a Brexit destination (273 — 276) ahead of the Common Market 2.0 (261- 282), but a confirmatory referendum had the most votes at 280(with 292 opposing votes).
Jasmine said: “Once again, Parliament has failed to back a horse and, once again, we find ourselves with only days to go before we are due to leave the EU without a deal — the one thing Parliament does agree we should avoid. The Government must now accept the need to ask the EU for a longer extension or better still, revoke Article 50, as that is the only unilateral way to take no deal off the table.”
On Tuesday, all eyes moved back to the Prime Minister on what would come next, after Cabinet met for more than seven hours: what emerged was a commitment to open talks with Labour, which many expect could lead to a customs union and/or a confirmatory vote. These talks are still going on, with an expectation that the earliest an outcome is likely to come back to Parliament for a vote will be early next week. At that stage, there is very little time left to negotiate ahead of the next summit with EU leaders.
Wednesday was focused on Yvette Cooper’s bill to avoid no deal, which passed by only one vote. That Bill is now in the House of Lords, where it is expect to pass after another day of debate on Monday. Another round of indicative votes was proposed but defeated in the House after a tied vote was settled by Speaker, John Bercow. Only time will tell whether a breakthrough can come out of joint talks between Labour and the Conservatives, with the clock ticking ever more loudly.
We have another choice, which is to unilaterally revoke Article 50. We must stop the clock and avoid no deal: we need to agree where we are headed first — not crash out by default.
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