House of Commons gets veto right on Brexit

The British parliament has secured the right to have a say on the Brexit deal. On Wednesday a majority of MPs voted in favour of an amendment to the EU withdrawal bill to this effect - against the government's will. Is this a bitter defeat for Prime Minister Theresa May, or is she secretly delighted?

Open/close all quotes
The Times (GB) /

Soft Brexit now more likely

Paradoxically, this most recent defeat in the House of Commons will strengthen May's position in the Brexit negotiations, the Times believes:

“If one assumes, as almost nobody does but which is surely the case, that Mrs May has all along wanted an orderly break from the EU that retains as many of the virtues of membership as are compatible with clearly leaving, then the discipline of having to win a parliamentary vote will help her. The threat of losing the deal in parliament will now become part of her negotiating position and that will push her, as the fuzzy Irish compromise is also pushing her, towards a gentler, kinder position.”

Upsala Nya Tidning (SE) /

Last word has yet to be spoken

May's defeat in the vote shows that the Brexit is by no means a sure thing yet, Upsala Nya Tidning surmises:

“Really it should be a matter of course that the parliament can have its say on the agreement. ... But from the political perspective the election on Wednesday was a serious defeat for Theresa May's government. ... New elections are certainly feasible. The forces that want a soft Brexit - and ideally that Britain stays in the EU - have flexed their muscles. Today a majority of voters would likely call off the whole withdrawal project. That would be best for the UK and the EU. It's not sure that the last word on Brexit has been spoken.”

Financial Times (GB) /

Parliamentary decision a hopeful sign

Finally the British are conducting a level-headed discussion about their country's relations with the EU, the Financial Times writes in delight:

“In a way, the country is having the debate now about leaving that it should have had before the referendum. More people today understand the nature of the entity Britain is leaving, and the nature of the UK's relationships with it. ... And although many are downbeat about Brexit happening, the revitalisation of parliament and the improved public understanding of the UK's position in the world are hopeful signs for the challenges that lie ahead.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

MPs don't really have a choice

The House of Commons will face a dilemma at the end of the Brexit negotiations, the Daily Telegraph writes:

“Either they approve the treaty as it stands, since there is no realistic prospect of the UK and EU substantially renegotiating the treaty late in 2018 - the fragile agreement reached in Brussels last week was hard won on all sides. Or, MPs can reject the deal. But then the UK will exit the EU in a disorderly fashion without a transition and this also means no trade deal with the EU for the foreseeable future, which is precisely the outcome the MPs backing the amendment say they most want to avoid.”