Brexit showdown in London
The House of Commons is due to vote on the Brexit deal negotiated with the EU on Tuesday evening. All indications are that the deal will fail to be passed, particularly after the parliament forced the government to publish a legal report last week. According to some media Theresa May may also postpone the vote. Commentators describe a situation full of uncertainty.
Two major constitutional crises
The struggle to find the right form of Brexit is rocking the British state to its very foundations, The Irish Independent observes:
“For now, there is a vacuum of authority: does it rest with a minority government, with a rebellious parliament or with an electorate to be consulted afresh? This is not a run-of-the-mill political battle to be resolved with the instruments to hand, it is a constitutional crisis. Indeed, parliament's battle with the government is merely the most immediate of two constitutional crises visited on the United Kingdom by the 2016 Brexit referendum. The second is the survival of the union itself, two of whose constituents, Scotland and Northern Ireland, voted to remain with the EU and whose political attachment to the British state has thus been loosened.”
Hold a third referendum!
A new vote on the Brexit would be more than appropriate, Die Presse explains:
“The citizens should decide whether this exit under the conditions now agreed is the better path for Britain or whether the UK should stay in the European Union. The argument that a new referendum would be problematic from a democratic point of view can be countered with the fact only now are the precise terms and consequences known. Moreover this would be the third vote on this subject anyway. Because in 1975 the British voted in a referendum to remain in the EEC. That didn't bother anyone when the referendum was held in 2016. So why should it bother them now?”
Parliament calls the shots
Parliament has exposed the government's weaknesses, Gazeta Wyborcza writes:
“In fact the ministers attempted to prevent the publication of a legal analysis because it would have been a gift for their critics. Such documents are not normally published in the UK. Nevertheless the government lost the vote by 293 to 311 votes. ... That once again goes to show that May does not have a stable majority. The members voted for an amendment in the agenda and demonstrated that the parliament can tell the government what should be done next in the event that May's plan fails.”
May is lonely and poorly advised
Theresa May is making one mistake after another, complains The Guardian:
“The argument for not publishing the details of what staying in the custom union involves was trivial. Of course 'advice is secret', but it is no time for secrecy when the Brexit debate has been enveloped in mendacity for two years. … That the government was found to be in contempt by 311 votes to 293 is more serious. It indicates major weakness in the loyalty department. It also indicates the poverty of advice available to Downing Street. The vote was surely predictable, and - since the loss is embarrassing - avoidable.”
Merely damage limitation?
The report will show in black and white that the UK's remaining in the customs union won't be temporary, as Prime Minister May claims, predicts Leonardo Maisano, Il Sole 24 Ore's London correspondent:
“If London and Brussels don't find any alternative solutions to the Irish problem in future negotiations the entire kingdom will remain tied to the customs union. So London won't be able to sign autonomous trade agreements, it won't attain the desired independence from the Union that was the cornerstone of the referendum campaign in 2016. That would render Brexit meaningless. It would be reduced to an exercise in damage limitation without a final reward.”