On the Eve of Brexit

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UK Prime Minister Theresa May continues to battle against an increasingly antagonistic House of Commons. Brexit negotiations with the European Union have come to an end for now, with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker stating, “I’m never changing my mind [on the deal]”. However, after Mrs May postponed the Parliamentary vote at the end of last year, the possibility of a ‘no deal’ Brexit is increasing, despite recent amendments designed to change this.

With multiple cabinet resignations, a no-confidence vote and continuing arguments as to whether there should be another referendum on the deal itself, a call for transparency has been at the forefront of the debate in the Commons. The referendum campaign was marred by accusations of fake news and hyperbole, such as the suggestion that leaving the European Union would allow a lump sum of £350 million to be given to the National Health Service, which has been subject to cuts under the Conservative government. The campaign has recently been dramatised in the Channel 4 made-for-television film ’Brexit: An Uncivil War’, which only enhances the perception of a system that has failed its people. Indeed, the divisiveness of the debate is Britain’s only guaranteed deal.

This has not bred a foundation of trust for the Brexit debates. Mrs May has been continually voted down – despite surviving a no confidence motion in the Commons in December. Most recently, MPs voted against Mrs May and have allowed her only three days to offer a plan B if her deal is refused by Parliament. This amendment was made by Dominic Grieve, the former Conservative Attorney General, who has led the campaign for greater Commons intervention in Brexit negotiations – however, not without complaint. Several Remain voting Conservatives and Labour MPs supported House Speaker John Bercow’s decision to side with Parliament over the Government. The continued presence of far-right wing supporters outside Parliament, perpetual criticism by Labour leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn and Mrs May’s own ex-cabinet member Boris Johnson has not affected the Prime Minister’s reassurances that “this is the very best deal for the British people”. All this, alongside her return visits to Europe, refute the suggestion of there being a finalised deal or any option of ‘certainty’.

Indeed, the questions of Brexit’s benefits, failures and consequences continue to dominate the British media as domestic problems take a sideline. Political pundit Andrew Marr recently took time out of his highly popular eponymous TV show to highlight the ever-increasing problem of homelessness in Britain. With almost 5000 sleeping rough, perhaps Britain’s attention has been diverted too long by Brexit. Regardless, the debate presses on and the people of Britain press on with it.

Global Seven News

Catherine McNaughton

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