What’s going on with Brexit as the March 29th deadline approaches?

Prime Minister Theresa May, departs from Downing Street

I can’t even believe it’s been almost three years since Great Britain’s disastrous Brexit vote. It really was a harbinger of political bulls–t to come on an international scale. At various times, I’ve covered some updates to the still-unfolding Brexit drama but I still don’t understand what’s happening, honestly. I’ve seen some tweets and commentary from actual British political people who feel similarly too – like, what is even happening? What’s the solution? Is there a solution? Well, Vanity Fair did a piece which I found rather helpful – it explains what will be happening in the next few weeks, as Theresa May’s government begins to bump up against the March 29th deadline they set for Brexit, and whether the EU is going to let the Brits have a three-month extension on deal-making. Or something, I honestly still don’t know. You can read the full VF piece here.

There is no perfect analogy for Brexit, the surreal game-theoretical political divorce that was slated to conclude on March 29, at 11 pm, London time. This was the date by which the United Kingdom, as directed by a slender majority of voters nearly three years ago, was meant to free itself from its former partners and, flush with new trade deals, start to enjoy being single again. The trouble is: splits are messy. On Thursday, after failing for months to come to any sort of agreement on how Britain should disentangle itself from Europe, and with few new trade deal in hand, lawmakers in Parliament voted to delay the Brexit process by at least three months. Ironically, it now falls to the European Commission to decide whether to accept Britain’s can-kicking or kick Britain to the curb.

The public face of this embarrassment is Prime Minister Theresa May, who has twice attempted to sell Westminster on some variation of her Withdrawal Agreement, only to be rebuffed by historic margins. Earlier in the week, May tried to persuade conservatives that last-minute pledges from the European Commission would save Britain from the dreaded Irish backstop—an insurance policy against a hard border across Ireland that Brexiteers fear could hold the U.K. in a state of de facto vassalage to the European Union. Instead, she was rejected on Tuesday by a coalition of Tories, Labour, independents, and every single MP from the Liberal Democrats, Scotland’s National Party, and May’s ostensible allies in the Democratic Unionist Party. The final tally was 391 to 242.

After her loss, May delivered a solemn warning to Parliament. “Let me be clear that voting against leaving without a deal and for an extension does not solve the problems we face,” she rasped. “The E.U. will want to know what use we mean to make of such an extension, and the House will have to answer that question.” Should Britain continue its shambolic pursuit of a clean separation from Europe? Should there be a general election, or a second referendum? “These are unenviable choices,” she continued, “but thanks to the decision the House has made this evening, they are choices that must now be faced.”

Or perhaps not. On Wednesday, May’s authority was further diminished when she was openly defied by members of her own Cabinet in a vote rejecting a no-deal Brexit. For May, the threat of a no-deal had been a useful bargaining chip in trying to coerce MPs into supporting her deal. But lawmakers have become increasingly fearful of “sleepwalking” toward an economic calamity. Thursday, of course, saw more theatrics as lawmakers voted by a majority of 210 to seek an extension to the withdrawal process. Eight cabinet ministers moved against May including, incredibly, Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay, who had spoken in favor of the government motion just moments before.

[From Vanity Fair]

Apparently, if May gets her deal tomorrow, May will ask the EU for a three month extension, which the EU will likely grant…? And if Parliament doesn’t agree, then the UK would participate in the European elections and as VF says, it would “increase the chances of a softer Brexit or a second referendum.” Well… why not do that? I really don’t understand!! Doesn’t the majority WANT a soft Brexit or a second referendum? Isn’t that why MPs have been voting down May’s every move? I was going to ask how is it – with all of these body-blows to May – there hasn’t been a vote of no confidence, but then I realized that literally no one else wants to be prime minister at this point. Ugh. Also: so, it’s looking more and more like March 29th isn’t going to be the the point of no return for Britain? What happens if they get a three-month extension and do next to nothing in those three months?

Prime Minister Theresa May, departs from Downing Street

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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42 Responses to “What’s going on with Brexit as the March 29th deadline approaches?”

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  1. Michelle says:

    I honestly can’t take much more! Everyday in the news it’s all about Brexit but we’re no further along. Just one huge Clusterfuck!!!

    • jan90067 says:

      One of the best excerpts I heard was on John Oliver’s show last nite. One minister in The House said (basically): “We have a had a turd shown to us before. It was rejected. It was taken back, polished, and then represented to us as a POLISHED turd. Now, we’re looking at it again as if it’s better. It’s just the same turd.” OMG, if it wasn’t so alarming, it’d be hysterically funny.

      Isn’t there some way to have another referendum? This time, with the people KNOWING how they were misled, it could lead to very different results.

  2. Mara says:

    It’s a very slim majority that want to remain and many politicians don’t want to be seen going back on a public vote when there is every chance that what happened in the last campaign could happen in a second referendum. If people are gullible enough once, why wouldn’t they be again?

    • Darla says:

      Really, the majority is still that slim? I would have thought that with this huge mess people would have woke up. Then again, look at us here with trump. I see his approval ratings and get numb. There’s no cure for stupid!!

    • Michelle Connolly says:

      It’s not a slim majority any more – there’s every chance that the pendulum will swing very much the other way. Look at how many turned out to Remain protests versus the laughable turnout for Farage’s Leave March this weekend.
      Besides, now that the lies and corruption has been exposed, the thousands of youth that were just shy of voting first time around are now eligible, and people can see that it’s damaging the country in so many ways (Byeee, businessmen like Mr. Dyson) there’s a good chance that it might switch. And even if it doesn’t, at least people have an opportunity to vote with all the facts at hand. If May can have a third vote on her sh*tty proposal, the public should have a second.

    • Clare says:

      On the other hand – parliament already voted down an amendment for a second referendum on Thursday last week…

      Personally I don’t want us to leave the EU but at this point a second referendum or a failure to leave will likely lead to a huge swing to the right, both culturally and politically – which is super scary. There are already discussions as to how failiure to leave the EU at the end of this month will impact local elections in May. Don’t even get me started on the utter scum we will likely field for the EU elections iif we have to participate…something tells me they will make Le Pen look begnin.

  3. ds says:

    I don’t get what’s happening anymore and I live in London. I just follow this, ’cause at least it makes me laugh https://www.instagram.com/brexittobollocks/
    I guess there is a chance for a second ref, but I’m not sure it would make it better. There are still so many probrexiters here. and to be fair – this is a proof of democracy failing – give the people to choose while feeding them with bollocks.

    • Ashipper says:

      I’m in the US, but when I listen to interviews with people who are pro-Brexit, it seems that the underlying attraction is that the UK will no longer be required to take in a certain amount of immigrants. It seems similar to Trump’s appeal to working class America, “We’re not going to let those foreigners take your jobs anymore!” Is that a fair assessment?

      • ds says:

        yeah, that’s how it started as a narrative. but it’s so ignorant. I had a cab driver recently who is an immigrant and is probrexit. i got so angry. the guy had no idea what he was talking about. i just don’t understand the logic. i really don’t. i was like dude, but that’s you too.

  4. AKS says:

    Sadly, politicians are using brexit for their own political/personal gain so we’re getting nowhere. Also re. Second referendum, parliament voted against doing one. It’s not legally binding but likely to abide by it….. in summary we’re screwed (!)

    • Sarah says:

      This is one of (my many) MAJOR frustrations, it’s an embarrassment to see how our elected officials are all working to further their careers with pretty much no regard to what will actually be in the best interests of the country in the longer term (which no-one really knows but you can make some educated guesses). UGH is all I have. But sure, another referendum would be undemocratic….

  5. SKF says:

    This is long-time British arrogance causing an implosion. I say this with love, as an Aussie. I also say it as someone who specialised in European politics and trade for my university degree. The UK (as an entity – I’m not attacking the people as individuals and I know many, many Brits are very much against this idiocy), has long held itself apart from the rest of the EU and seen itself as somehow superior. Brexit is an extension of that view. The UK (as an entity) thought it could do better. But it can’t. That is so obvious now. And if this goes ahead the UK will be permanently weakened.

    • Dee Kay says:

      Yup. I don’t have your training in the subject matter but this seems pretty f–king obvious from the outside.

    • Tina says:

      You are not wrong, at all, but please remember that 48% of us don’t think that way and didn’t vote for this. Neither of the two main parties care about us, but we do still exist.

    • hhhh says:

      yep. Finally an informed comment instead of this “why will the UK do?? it’s all terrible”. Meh, don’t care. I’m European and sick and tired of having to care about British people who have been nothing but awful for decades: turning up their nose at the rest of the EU, looking down on us, throwing massive tantrums when they didn’t get their way (ie more deregulations of the labour market, less protections -which is what Brits now claim they don’t want, even though they voted for that shit for years), threatening to leave, etc. And now I’m supposed to care that it will all go blow up in their face? Nah. Good riddance, British people. You reap what you sow and I for one am glad you’re leaving. No second chance. Maybe you’ll learn your lesson that way. But probably not.

  6. NotHeidisGirl says:

    “What happens if they get a three-month extension and do next to nothing in those three months?” Seriously, that’s what the rest of us in the EU are wondering as well…

  7. Digital Unicorn says:

    Support for a 2nd ref is gaining, I for one would welcome it but it doesn’t guarantee that the result would be the same – it would be close again but I think the turnout would be much higher.

    Its been a sh!tshow from the beginning and part of me thinks that the Brexiters are stalling as they don’t really want a Brexit. May’s deal is terrible and she’s basically bribing the DUP for their support. I know several leavers who think that May’s deal can be improved upon but I keep telling them it can’t – we always were going to get a bad deal from the EU and its stupid and naive to think otherwise.

    I hope Brexit fails and there is another ref, the Leavers are already crying into their tea as many are know saying they want a Norway type deal. They got what they wanted and are still whinging about it and how its not really what they want.

  8. agnes says:

    UK may ask for an extension, but nobody says that it will be granted as *all* 27 EU-members have to agree to it. And to what purpose? What will be the avail of three more months? With the current personnel doing the negotiating?

    In the two years since Art. 50 was triggered the whole process was an ongoing clusterfuck and the blame for this lies mostly with the UK-governement. You can not leave the EU, pick your favourite cherries to take with you and then throw a tantrum every time when the EU objects.

  9. Veronica S. says:

    David Cameron’s resignation after the wake of Brexit pretty much set the stage for how badly this was going to go down, IMO. When the people responsible flee the scene of the crime, you know it’s going to be bad. I don’t think the EU necessarily wants Britain to crash out, but they can’t really afford to go too soft on them, either, because they’ve got member states to protect. Giving Britain what they wanted for so long is part of what led to this problem in the first place. Now everyone has to answer for it.

  10. Anna says:

    Everyone should tune into this Youtube channel to find out what going on with Brexit: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSMqateX8OA2s1wsOR2EgJA . This is such a good channel.

  11. rrabbit says:

    Not only is the current generation of UK politicians lacking the necessary skills for a complex adventure such as Brexit, they also keep playing Iznogoud instead of trying to figure out what is good for the country. Johnson, Rees-Mogg, Corbyn, Leadsome, Gove etc all want to be Prime Minister instead of the Prime Minister.

  12. Sam says:

    The Tory government is the biggest threat to the well being of the UK and its citizens. In the last 8 years they have increased the deficit, increased homelessness, increased poverty, mismanaged the NHS, cut police force by 20000 (which caused crime to go up). Nine out of the ten poorest regions in Northern Europe are in the UK. The UN’s poverty report claims that there is extreme child poverty caused by this government austerity and unnecessarily cruel policies.

    Britain was the sick man of Europe prior to joining the EU and I am afraid it won’t be long before it returns to that.

  13. Case says:

    Could they just…put this to another vote and see what happens? I feel like more people would vote to remain (or vote, period) now that they understand the consequences.

    • duchess of hazard says:

      @Case May and her ilk don’t want to.

      May wants to cut out Freedom of Movement (her whole reason for being) and the Tories want to strip the states assets. And Labour’s Corbyn wants Brexit. It’s just politicians thinking about themselves over the country.

    • Jayne says:

      They should put it to another vote with all the options this time, and get them to vote for an option. The first time people voted, but didn’t know what they were going to get.

  14. gingersnaps says:

    I can’t with this mess. Nobody seems to be stepping up to the plate to be the voice of reason, no viable opposition, no one wants to present a united front. Most of the politicians are just out for themselves.

    • CarrieUK says:

      I find Heidi Allen talks a lot of sense most of the time, how much weight she has now she’s walked away from the Conservatives I don’t know, I’d vote her in any day!!

  15. CarrieUK says:

    It’s a disastrous mess, it’s also become clear that a vast majority of ‘Leavers’ think that No Deal means the whole thing will be called off and we just forget about it…..we no, their are so so many people who didn’t and don’t understand the full extent of leaving the EU, it’s a f**cking horrific mess!!
    It’s a living costly nightmare, even if there is a second referendum (please please!) so much damaging has been done to business and trade, it was a stupid David Cameron experiment that exploded in everyone’s face!

  16. Dee Kay says:

    At this point I’m amazed that no Labour leader has risen up to be the Voice of Remain. I know there are many Labour poiticians that are strongly advocating for a second ref but it seems to me that as long as Corbyn is the party leader, it will be impossible for that party to put out a strong message of taking a different path and averting disaster. A Brit told me this weekend that Labour can’t be fully Remain because they’ll alienate their working class members but aren’t those the people that have the most to lose by losing the EU benefits (i.e., look at all the car manufacturers pulling out, think of what not being in the Common Market will do to food exporting and importing businesses, not to mention tourism, etc.)?

  17. Kitty says:

    Does anyone know how this will affect the monarchy?

    • Tina says:

      It won’t. Whatever happens, the monarchy will be unaffected. Unless somehow the Queen could be convinced to prorogue Parliament (so that May could hold another vote on her withdrawal deal, which the Speaker John Bercow prevented today), which would be highly controversial.

      But I very much doubt that she would do that, she’s a wily old bird and wouldn’t be led into that trap. (Charles would probably be seduced by flattery and William is too ill-informed to know any better, which is one of the reasons why the monarchy could end after QEII. But it won’t end now.)

  18. jwoolman says:

    Is anybody in Northern Ireland or Scotland still talking about leaving the UK so they can stay in the E.U.? What are they doing about the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic? Can they keep an open border or not?

    There are were rumors about Russia fiddling with things around the Brexit vote in the same way as they’ve fiddled with our elections here in the US with organized disinformation campaigns. Russia is doing a lot of fiddling in pursuit of pushing other countries more to their liking. Has that been investigated at all in the U.K.?

    • Veronica S. says:

      The Ireland border is a huge topic of discussion right now, actually. We just don’t see it as much in American papers. If Britain crashes out, the Ireland border immediately returns to the pre-negotiation hard line that it was in ’93. (Where trade is concerned, anyhow. Actual Brits/Irish may want to educate/correct me further on how the migration of people will be affected.)

      • Incredulous says:

        Roughly it goes like this – There is the Good Friday Agreement, part of which stipulates no hard border between Republic and Northern Ireland. The problem is there has to be a border somewhere because Ireland will be in the EU and Northern Ireland will not be. The EU is okay with the border being, in effect, located in the Irish sea. The DUP (Think American Evangelicals except even more corrupt and regressive) is not cool with that at all. Why care? Simple, the DUP are in coalition with the Conservative party so they get to have their way.

        The current British government keeps trying Plan A, which has failed so they keep trying Plan A. Today, John Bercow told everyone they can’t keep being this kind of stupid anymore, tough. So, their options are:

        Find a way to keep being this kind of stupid (Most likely outcome)
        Call a General Election (Trump being under 200 pounds is way more likely)
        Revoke Article 50 and stay in the EU (Guess, just guess)

    • hogtowngooner says:

      I think a Scottish independence referendum will happen in the next few years. I also suspect there will be a spike in immigration to the Republic of Ireland from NI and Scotland.

      I also think the Russians were involved in the Leave campaign and also wonder why it hasn’t been looked into more.

  19. Dara says:

    @Kaiser, you are exactly right. May is still there because when push comes to shove no one is daft enough to actually want the job, they much prefer just bitching and moaning about it from the sidelines.

  20. Jayne says:

    They are going to leave it to the last day to make a decision, I bet.

  21. Jay says:

    Wow. It’s so sad that things are so crazy here in the US and in the U.K.

    And that racism and white supremacy and xenophobia are to blame for both :(

  22. FredsMother says:

    BREXIT was ever an idiotic shambles by Cameron to pacify the greedy, bigoted or egotistical Tory backbenchers in his party. They don’t care about the UK. They are delusional careerists politicians who were raised on the British public posher school system. They think Britain is still Great Britain and wont let go of that delusion. They hope America can come in after BREXIT and line their pockets with loads of corrupt pharma and insurance scheme cash and gmo money when they privatise health care and get rid of EU rules protecting people from bleached chicken, hormone beef and gmo corn-derived supermarket products. It already started with the in-bred Jacob Ryhs-Moggs and that machiavellian Boris Johnson.

    But the EU is also to be blamed for BREXIT because they are dancing with unethical, corrupt, bought-and-paid for regulation ALSO and played no part in educating the British citizens about the EU.Plus, the EU will look similar to the UK Post-BREXIT. Starting with that German’s push for TTIP—that horrible, traitorous, betrayal of the EU’S ideals masquerading as a trade deal. Not to mention, the corruption and disgrace surrounding the goveranance of the EU… the now exposed hush, hush corruptly appointed German dude who drove an official to commit suicide. It’s all a cesspool in Europe. Not to mention that permanently drunk EU President.

    It’s all a shambles.. No place to run to. EU, UK, US.. politicians, including the exhalted Merkel.. ALL. THE. SAME!!!!!!