Theresa may have no Brexit choice–Economic Times

The defeat of the Brexit deal — a product of nearly two years of negotiations with the European Union (EU), proposed by British Prime Minister Theresa May — by a margin of 230 votes, makes Britain’s impending exit from the EU more difficult and challenging.

With March 29, 2019, the date set for Britain’s ‘exit’ from the continent, fast approaching, May has very little time to avoid a ‘no-deal’ Brexit that could prove potentially damaging for Britain.

For emerging economies like India, which are already dealing with headwinds such as slowdown in the European economy and trade tensions between the US and China, the uncertainty over the nature of Britain’s exit from the EU presents additional challenges.

The large margin of defeat makes clear there is little in the negotiated deal that is acceptable, making May’s task a daunting one. The prime minister is expected to survive the no-confidence motion proposed by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. This leaves her little time to put together a statement to be delivered on Monday, January 21, outlining how she proposes to put forward a tweaked ‘Plan B’ Brexit deal for another vote in the House of Commons.

Prime Minister May has promised to consult MPs on possible changes to make the Brexit deal ‘more acceptable’. However, that will require renegotiating with Brussels, a task that is fraught with challenges given the stance of the EU, which has been reluctant to make bigger changes other than more promises to use the backstop that would avert a ‘hard border’ in Ireland.

Several options are being suggested, such as a second referendum, and a Norway-style economic partnership. But these are still in the realm of debate, and any plan will require the EU’s acquiescence. The choice might finally be between a no-deal Brexit and a delay in Brexit. And, as some hope, no Brexit.

This piece appeared as an editorial opinion in the print edition of The Economic Times.
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