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Brexit
January 14, 2019

British Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit plan goes up for a key vote in Parliament on Tuesday, and as it is widely expected to be rejected, she is making a last-ditch case Monday for her proposal to separate from the European Union. May is telling factory workers on Monday that if her plan fails, it is more likely that Parliament will scrap Brexit entirely rather than let the U.K. leave with no deal; with a deal, ties with the EU would be severed immediately on March 29, along with Britain's existing trade deals, leaving uncertainty if not chaos.

A significant number of Brexit supporters now argue a "no deal" Brexit is the best option. Brexit opponents are hoping to force a second referendum or, according to one plan being floated, let Parliament take control of the Brexit process. There are those in Parliament "who would wish to delay or even stop Brexit and who will use every device available to them to do so," May warned. And if they succeed, "people's faith in the democratic process and their politicians would suffer catastrophic harm. We all have a duty to implement the result of the referendum."

The opposition Labour Party will vote against the deal, joined by about 100 members of May's Conservative Party and the 10 members of the Democratic Unionist Party. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said if May's plan fails, his party will set in motion a vote of no confidence in her government in a bid to force new elections. More immediately, rejection of May's EU divorce plan would give her three days to propose a Plan B, and she's likely to head to Brussels on Wednesday to try to wrest more concessions from the EU before a Jan. 21 vote on her fallback plan. Peter Weber

December 11, 2018

British Prime Minister Theresa May traveled to the Netherlands on Tuesday in a bid to salvage her deal on Britain's exit from the European Union, reports The Associated Press.

May on Monday postponed a crucial parliamentary vote on her Brexit deal with the EU, saying it faced rejection. May is seeking concessions from European leaders, including on the question of how to keep goods flowing across the border of Northern Ireland in the U.K. and EU-member Ireland. British lawmakers want flexibility on that issue, a key sticking point.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned that there was "no room whatsoever for renegotiation," but there is "room enough for clarification and further interpretations. The apparent impasse left no clear path forward for May's government ahead of the U.K.'s scheduled March exit from the European trading bloc.

The prime minister met with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in the Netherlands, traveled to Germany to meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel, and huddled with Juncker and EU Council President Donald Tusk in Brussels. Read more at The Associated Press. The Week Staff

December 10, 2018

On Tuesday, Britain's House of Commons is scheduled to vote on, and expected to reject, Prime Minister Theresa May's negotiated Brexit plan, throwing Britain's exit from the European Union into further uncharted waters. On Monday morning, the European Court of Justice, the EU's top court, answered one unresolved Brexit question, ruling that if Britain so desires, it can unilaterally cancel its divorce any time before it becomes final on March 29, 2019 — or during any extension to that exit date. Revoking the Article 50 exit clause would have to "follow a democratic process," the court ruled, meaning that in Britain, Parliament would have to approve calling off Brexit.

The ECJ issued its ruling in response to a question from a group of anti-Brexit U.K. politicians, and the court said Monday that its aim is to "clarify the options open to MPs" before they vote on Tuesday. The upshot is that staying in the EU is now "a real, viable option," BBC Brussels correspondent Adam Fleming notes, cautioning that "a lot would have to change in British politics" for Brexit to be actually called off.

Assuming lawmakers rejected May's proposal, Parliament could "follow a number of different courses of action, including backing a Norway-type deal or amendments that make significant changes made to the backstop agreement — the insurance policy that prevents a hard border in Ireland," Laura Silver says at BuzzFeed News. "The defeat would also pave the way to a second referendum on leaving the EU, which has already been discussed in Downing Street. It is unclear whether or not remaining in the EU entirely would be an option on the ballot paper." Peter Weber

December 9, 2018

The United Kingdom's House of Commons is scheduled to vote Tuesday on whether to proceed with Prime Minister Theresa May's plan for Brexit, the U.K.'s exit from the European Union.

But whether the vote will proceed as planned remains uncertain, as opposition inside and out May's Conservative Party makes its prospects look dim. Protest resignations from May's own government are expected Sunday and Monday, but May's office says the vote will go forward.

May has warned fellow Tories who oppose her plan that its failure may lead to a general election, a new government, and the "very real risk of no Brexit" at all.

The deal under consideration was settled with EU leaders late last month, and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned critics it is the best realistic option. Bonnie Kristian

December 4, 2018

On Tuesday, a top legal adviser to the European Union's highest court counseled that if Britain chooses, it can change its mind about Brexit without input from the other 27 EU member states. A multi-party group of Scottish lawmakers had requested guidance on that question from the EU's European Court of Justice, and Advocate General Manuel Campos Sanchez-Bordona handed down his non-binding legal opinion just as Britain's Parliament started five days of debate over whether to approve Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit proposal.

The ECJ often but not always concurs with the advice of the advocate general, and the full court is expected to hand down its judgment within weeks. The British government had opposed the Scottish appeal to the European Court, arguing that whether it can un-invoke the EU charter's Article 50 is a useless hypothetical question because "the U.K. does not intend to revoke its notification."

Anti-Brexit politicians wanted the EJC to endorse the position that Britain can still scrap its Article 50 invocation before the U.K. withdraws from the EU on March 29 so that Parliament has that option should it vote down May's Brexit deal next Tuesday. One possible route out of Brexit would be to hold a second referendum on whether to call off the divorce. If Parliament rejects the deal, it could end May's tenure and maybe even bring down her government. Peter Weber

November 25, 2018

European Union leaders on Sunday supported British Prime Minister Theresa May's proposal for the United Kingdom's exit from the EU next year. The 585-page document must now be approved by the U.K. Parliament in a vote expected to be held Dec. 11.

A difficult vote is anticipated, as May faces resistance both from those who oppose Brexit and from Brexit supporters who believe her plan concedes too much to the EU. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned the latter group they are unwise to try to hold out for a better arrangement, arguing Sunday this deal is the best realistic option.

May's proposal does not determine future U.K.-EU relations, focusing on the departure instead. It covers the $39 billion exit payment to be made by the United Kingdom alongside provisions for citizens' rights and European trade with Ireland should relations deteriorate.

This "will be a deal that is in our national interest — one that works for our whole country and all of our people, whether you voted 'Leave' or 'Remain,'" May wrote in an open letter to the British public on the subject Sunday. "We will then begin a new chapter in our national life. I want that to be a moment of renewal and reconciliation for our whole country." Bonnie Kristian

November 15, 2018

British Prime Minister Theresa May urged Parliament on Thursday to approve a draft Brexit deal her government had negotiated with the European Union. But before she spoke, several Cabinet ministers had resigned in protest of her deal, including Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey, and the junior Brexit, education, and Northern Ireland ministers. Britain's pound plummeted after Raab's resignation.

Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn called the deal a "huge and damaging failure," suggesting Labour MPs won't vote for the agreement, and with defections in May's Conservative Party, it's not clear she has the votes, endangering her tenure as prime minister. May asked lawmakers to approve the divorce deal "in the national interest," arguing that she made "the right choices, not the easy ones," and that having no deal would be worse than the agreement she reached to cleave Britain from the EU while maintaining close ties. She emphasized that this is just a draft, while lawmakers jeered and called on her to resign.

May got a majority of her Cabinet to approve the agreement on Wednesday, though many of them did not look happy about it. Britain is scheduled to leave the European Union on Friday, March 29, 2019. Peter Weber

July 8, 2018

Brexit Secretary David Davis resigned on Sunday, leaving British Prime Minister Theresa May without the most senior official in charge of negotiating an exit from the European Union.

On Friday, May said her plan for Brexit had the backing of her government, but in his resignation letter, Davis said the proposals for future trade "will leave us in at best a weak negotiating position, and possibly an inescapable one." May's government is now on shaky ground, with two other ministers from the Department for Exiting the European Union following Davis' lead and also resigning Sunday.

Davis was strongly pro-Brexit, and May wrote in a response to his letter that she was sorry to see him go "when we are only eight months from the date set in law when the United Kingdom will leave the European Union." Catherine Garcia

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