London: Britain’s parliament sought a new Brexit strategy on Tuesday after seizing the initiative from Prime Minister Theresa May in a historic vote, with the risk of a chaotic ‘no-deal’ departure looming.
Lawmakers exasperated by Britain's failed efforts to find a way out of the European Union after three years of debates and negotiations voted on Monday to give themselves a broader say on what happens next.
The motion creates parliamentary time for MPs to come up with their own Brexit proposals as Britain tries to stave off a messy divorce in two weeks. The Times newspaper said the vote left May ‘humiliated’ and bracing for early national polls. The Financial Times agreed that Britain's leader now ‘risked losing control of Brexit.’
The measure was backed primarily by pro-EU MPs who want to either reverse Brexit or preserve much closer economic relations with the remaining 27 EU states. But no one is entirely clear about how parliament is going to approach its new role in the week the 46-year UK-EU partnership was scheduled to have to come to an end.
EU leaders pushed back Brexit day to April 12 after meeting May in Brussels last week and deciding that Britain still did not know what it wanted to do.
One of the co-sponsors of the measure to take over the Brexit process from May, Hilary Benn, said lawmakers would first probably get a range of options to choose from on Wednesday. “The first time round it will just be 'here are the propositions' and you vote for as many as you would like,” Benn said.
“We may then change the system for next week as we are trying to narrow it down.” The biggest worry for May is a mooted plan for parliament to then in the following days take an even firmer grip of the Brexit agenda by passing legislation that forces the government's hand.
Parliament's initial votes will be non-binding instructions that only carry political weight.
May has already signalled that she might ignore them if they contradict her Conservative party's 2017 election platform.
It included a vow to take Britain out of the EU customs union and single market – the two vast organisations that open borders and regulate trade across most of the European continent.
Parliament is now effectively re-considering how to go about Brexit all over again. Everything is back on the table and May's deal is just one of a half-dozen or so approaches that may be up for debate....