Brexit: A meaningful margin

18 January 2019

downing street

CLA Director of External Affairs Tom Bartošák-Harlow provides an analysis of the meaningful vote and Theresa May's no-confidence vote.

What a week! The Prime Minister’s Brexit deal was voted down by a record margin of 230 – the biggest defeat for any Prime Minister in history. 24 hours later she was surviving a no-confidence vote in the House of Commons which if she had lost would have led to a General Election. Some have said that having spent the last two and a bit years ignoring other views on Brexit it is ironic that the Prime Minister now thinks cross-party talks are the way forward.

While perhaps the way forward in Westminster is not clear, in Cardiff the Welsh Government has set out its views and called for the extension of Article 50 and for a commitment to avoid no deal. In Brussels, the EU is doubling down on the deal negotiated before Christmas with an impressive coordination of unity in the immediate aftermath from EU leaders saying it is for the UK to now say how it wants to move forward rather than for the EU to offer changes. In fairness to the Prime Minister and the Government, they have said this in talks with MPs too.

The Government will set out its next steps on Monday (21 January) with MPs set to debate these the following week (29 January). Crucially MPs will also be able to propose alternatives to the Government’s plan and while none of these votes will be legally binding they will show whether there is a Brexit that Parliament can ultimately support. For now there only seems to be deadlock and delay with all other Brexit legislation, including the Agriculture Bill essentially on hold or extreme go slow until the House of Commons decides the way forward.

The adage a week is a long time in politics has never been more accurate.