German foreign minister: Brexit vote 'reckless'

Erika Holt
March 14, 2019

Nonetheless, May defended her plan as a good deal compared to a series of unattractive alternatives.

"We regret the outcome of tonight's vote", the spokesperson said.

May traveled to Strasbourg, France, Monday to work out changes to the agreement with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

The three-part package of changes effectively aims to resolve a key sticking point for British MPs over the so-called backstop plan to keep open the border between European Union member Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland.

After briefing her cabinet on the next steps, May is due to face questions in parliament from 12:00 pm (1200 GMT), immediately followed by finance minister Philip Hammond's annual budget update.

"This would prolong uncertainty, reduce the value of the EU's no deal preparations and endanger the political and institutional functioning of the European Union at a time where it needs to be united and capable to act more than ever before".

The motion was deliberately vague, essentially saying that the government does not wish to actively pursue no-deal Brexit as official policy, yet acknowledged that no deal is the default option, should nothing be agreed before March 29.

Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said May's negotiations failed and called on lawmakers to reject the deal, again. But the mood has been hardening among European politicians, who seem reluctant to reopen negotiations for a withdrawal deal or grant a delay to Brexit without any specific goal. "The extension will need to be of sufficient length to allow Parliament to reach agreement on a proposal that it is prepared to support".

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street in London ahead of a further vote on delaying Brexit
PM Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street ahead of the vote on delaying Brexit

Charles Walker, a Conservative MP, said that a general election was now the way out of the impasse. The ink isn't even dry on the agreement.

In the long run, the government says a no-deal scenario would leave the economy 6 percent to 9 percent smaller over 15 years than remaining in the EU. They will vote according to their own conscience.

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte has said he is disappointed that the British government has been "unable to ensure a majority for the withdrawal agreement" even after after multiple additional assurances from the EU.

MAY'S DEAL? May had announced three documents - a joint instrument, a joint statement and a unilateral declaration - which she said were aimed at addressing the Irish backstop, the most contentious part of the divorce deal she agreed with the European Union in November.

In a statement this afternoon, a DUP spokesman said: "The Prime Minister set out a clear objective for legally binding change which would command a majority in the House of Commons in line with the Brady amendment".

It comes after Attorney General Geoffrey Cox warned that, while the PM's last-minute agreements with Brussels "reduce the risk" that the United Kingdom could be trapped indefinitely in the backstop, they do not remove it altogether.

But following the surprise result on the amendment by Caroline Spelman, European Research Group chairman Jacob Rees-Mogg said the amendment had no legal force. May said the government would not instruct her Conservative Party's lawmakers how to vote. That raises the prospect of huge delays at ports, food shortages in supermarkets, and a rise in long-simmering tensions in Northern Ireland. The financial consequences of a no-deal Brexit are well versed and politicians must now act to prevent this from becoming a reality for businesses and households across the country.

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