74, 73, 72 … The Countdown to Brexit Has Begun

Following the rejection of Theresa May’s Brexit plan by a devastating majority of 230 votes in the House of Commons, the Prime Minister (PM) had to face a vote of no-confidence. May welcomed the decision saying, “the house has spoken and the government will listen.”

A new vote would have either forced the Tories out of government or prolonged the impasse. But May passed the 20 Labour’s no-confidence motion with 325 to 306 votes. So under conservative party rules, May’s leadership cannot be challenged for the next 12 months. The Labour Party’s leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted the following:

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said that “the Tories have failed miserably on Brexit and it is no surprise Theresa May’s deal has been rejected by such a massive margin,” and called for a “General Election and a Labour government to break the deadlock and end austerity.” With rising tensions between May and Corbyn following the PM’s decision to not include Labour’s leader on the cross-party Brexit talks that are currently underway, Corbyn affirmed that a general election would have brought “new impetus to the Brexit talks.”

With the deadline for the UK signing off on a deal with the European Union (EU) looming on 29 March and divisions among the MPs of all parties growing, little hope remains for an agreement. The president of the European council, Donald Tusk, suggested in a tweet that in light of the recent outcome of the vote the only real solution for the UK would be to stay in the EU.

The President of the EU Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, regretted the outcome of the vote, but urged the British government to “clarify its intentions as soon as possible,” pointing out that “time is almost up.”

While EU leaders have taken the option for a renegotiation off the table and said that the deal they signed with May was the best solution, Labour MPs are demanding the extension of Article 50, which states that a country that has formally notified the EU of its intention to leave has two years to reach an exit deal, in an effort to grant them more time to reach a consensus.

In a statement, Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz also regretted the outcome, stating that the ball is now in the British House of Commons in #London. In any case, there will be no renegotiation of the withdrawal agreement.

Austria’s Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs, Karin Kneissl, remains confident about the British government reaching a withdrawal agreement, but also warns that the UK “must act quickly.”

Having the confidence of the House of Commons, May promises that “the government will continue its work to increase prosperity, guarantee our security and to strengthen our union”. The next challenge ahead of the PM is to try and work out a compromise that will grant her the support of the MPs and avoid the chaos of a “no-deal” Brexit.

Paraskevi Peglidou
Born in Greece, Peglidou moved to Vienna in 2009 and then continued north to study Politics at the University of Edinburgh. Over the years, her interest in social, political and environmental issues pushed her to research and share stories.

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