British Prime Minister, Theresa May, suffered another humiliating defeat yesterday, as British lawmakers rejected, for the second time, her attempt to reach a last-minute accord with EU officials to secure more favorable terms governing Britain’s exit from the EU, before the looming March 29th deadline date. May’s proposal, the result of last minute meetings with EU officials over the past few days, was voted down in Parliament by a margin of 391 votes against to 242 in favor.
The failure to reach ratification on the terms of separation now creates political chaos fo the country as well as further uncertainty for UK based businesses that have been been conducting business with EU member countries for the past decade.
The rejection of May’s plan now leaves Britain with only three options: a no-deal Brexit, holding a second referendum on EU membership, or seeking an extension of time from EU officials for May to continue to try and negotiate more favorable terms from Brussels officials.
Some EU officials have stated that before any extensions are granted, Britain would have to demonstrate a compelling need for extending the talks yet again. Indeed, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned, days earlier that there would be no further modifications to the existing agreement should British lawmakers reject the deal on Tuesday.
“In politics, sometimes you get a second chance. It is what you do with this second chance that counts. Because there will be no third chance,” Mr. Juncker said. “If the meaningful vote fails tomorrow, this is it.”
The other two political options available are equally fraught with risk. Should lawmakers vote to exit the EU without any agreement in place that spells out the terms and conditions for separation, it would cause disruption to the financial and other sectors of the British economy that are heavily reliant on their exitsting business relations with EU countries.
Despite the vote, some businesses, particularly those in the financial services industry, had already begun to move capital and some employees to Frankfurt, Paris and Strasbourg.
The political reality is that the longer the exit is delayed, the more likely the prospects of holding a second referendum become. For Anti-Brexiteers, such as former Prime Ministrer, Tony Blair, who shamelessly attempted to sabotage May’s abilities to negotiate with the EU, this was the desired outcome all along.
Blair’s arguments for a do-over vote reeks of the arrogance and disdain expressed by political elites, either implicitly or explicitly for the preferences of voters. Like political elites in the U.S., who claim voters were too ignorant to understand and appreciate that Hillary Clinton’s was a far superior candidate than Trump, Blair stirs up the same stew with the Brexit vote, claiming that Eurosceptics voted against their own interests becasue they never could appreciate the complexities involved with leaving the EU nor understand the plethora of benefits that EU membership affords.