Theresa May Has Backed Down (A Bit) Over Brexit

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Theresa May Has Backed Down (A Bit) Over Brexit

by Vicky Spratt |
Published on

It feels like only yesterday that Theresa May said there would be no debate in Parliament about Brexit and, certainly, no vote for MPs. ‘Brexit means Brexit’ she has famously said.

Well, if we’ve learned anything in the heady days since June’s referendum result it’s that things sure do change quickly.

The Prime Minister has changed her mind. In what The Telegraph are calling a ‘climbdown’ and The Guardianhave dubbed a ‘U-Turn’ May has accepted the need for there to be ‘full and transparent’ parliamentary scrutiny before Brexit can officially happen.

This is something of a relief. After all, an unelected government making decisions and plans for the biggest deal in our country’s history behind closed doors doesn’t exactly sound like democracy, does it? Unless, perhaps you’re the author of this Daily Mail article who absolutely loves the idea of having no transparency when it comes to Brexit and thinks anyone who takes issue with that is ‘unpatriotic’.

May’s government have accepted a motion from the Labour partywhich calls for MPs to have more say over our strategy for leaving the EU before article 50 is triggered (expected to happen in March 2017). Some Conservative MPs, who aren’t all that happy about Brexit, were rumoured to be planning to side with Labour on this, which could explain why the lady is for turning after all. Some think this was a strategic decision, to make sure the Government aren’t defeated if there are any debates further down the line:

This is a pretty significant moment for Britain as we continue to power along the path to Brexit. What the Prime Minister has now agreed to doesn’t mean that there will be a formal vote on the way things are done in Parliament, however it does mean that there will have to be a fairly major debate in Parliament on the government’s Brexit strategy before Article 50 can be triggered.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry, said that Labour wouldn’t allow the government to ‘go into a locked room and come out with some plan that they want to keep secret.’

Along with Keir Starmer, Labour’s shadow Brexit Secretary, Thornberry has demanded answers from May’s government on 170 questions about how leaving the EU will work. 170 questions about Brexit? That sounds about right. Starmer told BBC News that ‘Parliament needs to know the broad terms on which the government is going to negotiate.’

It’s good to see that Labour are finally doing their job as opposition: challenging the government and holding them to account. The truth, though, is that nobody really know how this is supposed to go – not the Prime Minister, not the lawyers, not the Eurocrats, not the seasoned hacks – there is no precedent for Brexit, no blueprint. As BBC’s Newsnight revealed last night nothing is quite as it seems or, rather, as we were Leave said it would be before the referendum.

When Theresa May says 'hard Brexit' she means 'hard' as in difficult and chaotic right? We’re very much in figure it out as we go along territory and Britain must fake it ‘till she makes it. Until it’s all sorted, and who knows how long that will take, we’ll have to get used to not really knowing what’s up and watching the pound’s value go up and down like a yoyo.

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Follow Vicky on Twitter @Victoria_Spratt

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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