Brexit Bogged Down in the House of Commons
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is currently attempting to push the House of Commons to vote on his Brexit Deal after previously being snubbed by the Speaker of the House. The Prime Minister is said to have finally reached a deal with the European Union (EU) regarding Brexit after more than three years since the referendum to leave was held.
The Withdrawal Agreement was finally negotiated with the EU in October and paved the way for the PM to introduce the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB). This bill seeks to turn the treaty negotiated by the EU and UK into law; it must be passed by Parliament in order to take effect. The WAB lays out the steps that the UK will take and addresses important aspects like the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, the UK’s future relationship with the EU’s Court of Justice, and how the UK government will deal with EU citizens living within its borders, according to the BBC.
However, many Members of Parliament (MPs) are halting the progress by asking for more time reading the document. This was done through introducing and voting on the “Lewtin Amendment,” introduced by former Conservative MP Oliver Letwin, which narrowly passed by 322 to 306, according to CNBC. The amendment triggers the Benn Bill, passed in September, which would effectively require the UK to request an extension from the EU. Currently, Johnson wants the WAB to be voted on and approved by October 31.
This vote forced the government to send an extension to January 31 to the President of the European Commission, Donald Tusk, after the leader of the opposition Labor Party Jeremy Corbin rejected the latest voting goals set by the PM. They would have seen PMs vote again on the WAB on December 12, according to The Guardian. The Labor Party Leader is attempting to rule out a so-called “no-deal” Brexit, in which the UK would immediately leave the EU without any negotiations about the separation process. According to Metro, he stated “Take no-deal off the table and we absolutely support a general election.” The Labor Party Leader is using this to attempt to avoid “crashing out” of the EU and affecting jobs.
This aversion to a no-deal Brexit runs counter to PM Johnson’s “do or die” mentality surrounding the now-extended October 31 vote. Along with the vote that stalled Brexit, “hundreds of thousands” of protesters met MPs as they were leaving the House of Commons, demanding a “People’s Vote on Brexit” reports The Los Angeles Times. In the largest protest against Brexit yet, many are demanding a new referendum. A youth advocate named Femi Oluwole, who co-founded Our Future Our Choice (OFOC), believes that a second referendum is the only way to “resolve the Brexit mess”, according to Al Jazeera. Many of the protest signs included youth-centered messages, with one stating “I’m 17 and Brexit stole my future.”
While the future of Brexit remains uncertain, protests against it have only increased in size, with larger and more numerous protests being likely in the future.