UK: In crushing blow to May’s Brexit plan, Parliament allows alternative scenarios
The British parliament has approved a crucial amendment to Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal to take the country out of the European Union (EU), allowing MPs to come up with their own alternative plans.
In a break from long-standing rules, House of Commons Speaker John Bercow allowed MPs on Wednesday to vote on an amendment that forced May to prepare a Plan B within three days if her existing deal with the EU gets rejected next Tuesday.
The amendment, brought by former Tory leader Dominic Grieve, also authorized all MPs to attach their own proposed Brexit plans when the PM’s new way forward comes up for vote, raising the possibility for a range of alternative options from softer Norway-style Brexit to a new EU referendum.
The original Brexit process gave May three weeks to return to the parliament with a new plan.
The MPs’ proposals, although not legally binding, will give a better understanding as to what kind of agreements with the EU would stand the highest chance to get passed.
The government, despite having the parliamentary majority, failed to block Grieve’s amendment as pro-EU rebels within the ruling Conservative Party joined forces with Labour to pass it in a 308-297 vote.
The critical loss showed that the embattled PM’s had failed to muster support for her deal after delaying the original Brexit vote last month.
This was the second significant defeat for May in the parliament over the past two days.
On Tuesday, lawmakers voted to block possible preparations for a no-deal Brexit by curtailing the government’s powers to amend laws that would allow smooth taxation after a disorderly divorce from the EU.
Bercow’s decision to authorize the Wednesday vote prompted harsh criticism from pro-government lawmakers.
Chief Whip Julian Smith – one of May’s closest allies – accused Bercow of “throwing centuries of precedence in the bin to thwart the referendum result.”
Bercow, however, remained defiant and defended his position.
“I’m trying to do the right thing and make the right judgments. That is what I have tried to do and what I will go on doing,” he told heckling Tory benches.