As we enter the month of Brexit, Concrete is here to provide you with the latest updates from Parliament as 29 March rapidly approaches.
Prime Minister Theresa May has offered what some see as a dramatic policy change on her Brexit strategy. She will present MPs with a series of votes on the 12, 13 and 14 March. The first vote will be on her revised Withdrawal Agreement. Last month MPs voted for Mrs May to renegotiate the controversial Northern Irish backstop.
If MPs pass the deal Mrs May presents, then on 29 March the UK will enter a 20-month transition period with the EU and future trade negotiations begin. If her deal is rejected, MPs will vote over the two next days on whether to leave the EU with no deal, or to seek an extension of Article 50 to mid-June.
Mrs May has consistently ruled out extending Article 50 but with pressure from Conservative Remain MPs, including Senior Ministers Amber Rudd and Greg Clarke, it appears Mrs May has changed her strategy.
However, announcing the voting timetable in Parliament, Mrs May said ‘I do not want to see Article 50 extended, our absolute focus should be on working to get a deal and leaving on 29 March.’
Unless the UK’s position has fundamentally changed, there is some scepticism as to whether the EU would allow an extension of Article 50. In regards to Mrs May’s Withdrawal Agreement, the EU Commission has consistently reiterated that the Agreement cannot be renegotiated. However, there are rumours of a legal adjustment to the backstop being negotiated by Attorney General Geoffrey Cox.
Labour has announced they are backing a second Brexit referendum after their attempt to change the Government’s Brexit strategy was rejected by MPs. The proposed options on the ballot paper are unclear but are thought to include the Government negotiated deal, no-deal or remaining in the EU.
Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn said, ‘We will also continue to push for the other available option, including a close economic relationship based on our credible alternative plan or a general election.’
In separate news, the Department of Transport were forced to pay £33 million in a legal dispute regarding the handling of contracts for new sea freight routes after Brexit. These routes have been the source of much criticism after it emerged one firm, Seaborne Freight, did not possess any vessels.