Did parliament have no choice but to pass Brexit?

The British parliament on Wednesday approved the bill allowing the government to trigger Brexit. Although most MPs are against Brexit, 494 voted in favour while only 122 voted against the bill. Some commentators believe the vote is a serious mistake while others see it as the logical consequence of the referendum.

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The Guardian (GB) /

The worst mistake of the postwar era

By voting in favour of May's Brexit law and against their own convictions British MPs have undermined the power of parliament, the Guardian criticises:

“Faced with a bill that sets in motion the UK's withdrawal from the EU, which is as profoundly mistaken a decision as any that the UK parliament has taken in the postwar era, MPs have essentially said that last year's referendum is sovereign and that they are powerless to put their foot on the brake or choose a different route. ... Britain should be part of Europe. That has not changed. ... Two thirds or more of MPs think that Brexit is the wrong course. But, as Wednesday night's vote confirmed, too many of them felt compelled to go through the lobbies in support of a bill that they believe, correctly in our view, will damage Britain.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

Approval is logical and democratic

The Daily Telegraph, by contrast, is delighted at the decision:

“Having agreed to stage the referendum, it would have been undemocratic for Parliament to have gainsaid the wishes of an electorate the MPs entrusted with making the decision. The logic of that position has not been lost on most Remainers in the Commons, who have accepted that Brexit must proceed. ... While the Bill may be through the Commons, it now goes to the House of Lords where, for the first time in history, a Conservative government does not command a majority. It is possible that a coalition of more than 250 Lib Dems and Labour peers backed by crossbenchers could block or frustrate the legislation. But since the wishes of the Commons are now clear, the Lords must not stand in the way of this Bill.”

Lidové noviny (CZ) /

Full legitimacy for Brexit

Any other outcome in the the House of Commons would have been most surprising, Lidové noviny comments:

“A rejection of last year's referendum result would have been cause for a revolution. But as the British already had their revolution back in the 17th century no one was reckoning with a 'no'. ... Brexit has been given full legitimacy. No one can say the decision to leave the EU was manipulated or influenced by an ideological sabotage unit. It is of fundamental importance that the Brexit has now been approved not just by the voters in the above-mentioned referendum but also by the elected MPs in the House of Commons - by the political elite, so to speak.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Opposition destroying itself

The opposition as a whole has exposed itself as incompetent in the Brexit debate in the House of Commons, Der Standard complains:

“The Greens and Liberal Democrats are too weak and the nationalists have only Scottish independence on their agenda. And Labour under Jeremy Corbyn seems divided and undecided. The party leader issued a three-line whip but those who defied it have gone unpunished while his inexperienced Brexit spokesman is being taken for a ride by the seasoned Tories. … A member of the shadow cabinet advised the MPs in all seriousness to abstain from the vote - on the most important political question of the decade. … Many of Labour's loyal working-class supporters voted for Brexit but the majority in the urban constituencies wanted to stay in the EU. Pulling off the balancing act between these two camps would be difficult for anyone - but Corbyn and his team are making Labour unelectable with their incompetence.”

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

House of Commons won't just stand by and watch

The House of Commons's approval does not mean that Parliament will stay out of the Brexit negotiations, the Tages-Anzeiger believes:

“Since the Parliament has now established its sovereignty in these matters, it can pass new resolutions at any time - when it wants to and believes that such a course is necessary. Above all, however, it will now seek to clarify under which conditions Britain will leave the EU. After giving their general consent for Brexit many Tories and most Labour MPs plan to side with the rebels in opposing the idea of a 'hard Brexit'. They believe they have done their duty as regards the referendum. Now they feel free to have a say in how the negotiations progress. That's why the next conflict will be between the executive and the legislative.”

De Morgen (BE) /

British will be on their own

After the vote in the House of Commons De Morgen says it won't mourn the departure of Theresa May or the UK:

“Isn't it true that our interests can be best defended in a unanimous and united European block? … Big is often better, especially when it comes to trade. The British will be made to feel this pretty soon. The subservience with which Prime Minister Theresa May hastily crept onto the lap of the new US president, as well as the cowardly vagueness of her comments on Donald Trump's recent capers are proof that the British government is acutely aware now that it is on its own. We wish it every success in negotiating a deal that is more advantageous than what the EU has to offer with a protectionist nationalist.”