On Valentine’s Day the Prime Minister suffered an embarrassing defeat on her Brexit strategy, however, does it mean anything? In short, nothing has changed.
The vote in Westminster was a motion to approve the Government’s current Brexit negotiating strategy, which has not changed since the last vote on 29 January. In an unexpected move, a group of Conservative Backbenchers part of the European Research Group (ERG), as well as several Conservative Remainers, decided to abstain on the motion for a variety of reasons. Parliament therefore rejected the Prime Ministers current Brexit plan by 45 votes.
However, does this change the Prime Minister’s Brexit strategy?
In short no. The defeat has no legal force and Downing Street said it would not change the PM’s approach to talks with the EU. It is, however, a setback personally for the Prime Minister as only last week she promised EU Leaders that she was able to command a stable majority in the House of Commons.
What happens next?
The Prime Minister will continue to lobby the EU for changes to the Irish Backstop in the Withdrawal Agreement so that she can pass the meaningful vote through Parliament. Following discussion this and last week the UK and EU seem to be at a stalemate in negotiations and this defeat won’t help the Prime Ministers chances of a renegotiation. The next vote due to take place is on Wednesday 27 February which will be a vote on the next steps of the deal and could include further plans from cross-party backbenchers to take control of the Brexit process away from the Government in an attempt to prevent a No Deal Brexit. As it stands the UK will leave the EU in 42 days and the chance of a No Deal Brexit seems increasingly likely. ADS has continuously said that a No Deal Brexit is the worst possible outcome and will impact cashflow and disrupt just-in-time supply chains.
What can you do?
Please take a look at the ADS Brexit Hub which is updated daily with information on how you can help prepare your company for Brexit.