Brexit
October 17, 2019

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said Brexit will go through on Oct. 31 with or without a deal, but European Union leaders aren't on the same page.

A new agreement was cobbled together on Thursday that would allow Britain to leave the EU, but only after a transition period lasting until the end of 2020. Over the next year, EU and British negotiators would work on a trade deal and other arrangements. "This is a great deal for our country — the U.K. — and our friends in the EU," Johnson said Thursday night. "Now is the moment for our parliamentarians to get this done."

The House of Commons will meet for a vote on Saturday, and already, the revised agreement has been rejected by the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party and dragged by Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who said it's an "even worse deal" than the one crafted by former Prime Minister Theresa May.

Under U.K. law, Johnson is required to seek a Brexit extension if a deal is not approved by Saturday, but he has been adamant about leaving the EU by the Oct. 31 deadline, deal or not. One EU diplomat told The Guardian they are leaving "the door open to the possibility of an extension," if needed. European Council President Donald Tusk said the "ball is in the court of the U.K. I have no idea what will be the result of the debate in the House of Commons on Saturday." Catherine Garcia

October 17, 2019

British and European Union negotiators reached a preliminary agreement Thursday on Britain's withdrawal from the EU. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker tweeted: "We have one! It's a fair and balanced agreement for the EU and the U.K." British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called it a "great new deal" and urged Parliament to ratify it in a special session on Saturday. The other 27 EU nations, whose leaders are meeting for a summit later Thursday, also have to approve the new Brexit deal.

Juncker said he will recommend the other EU nations back the agreement, but Johnson already saw his narrow passageway to Parliament's approval shrink further when his Conservative Party's Northern Ireland partners, the Democratic Unionist Party, said they "could not support what is being suggested on customs and consent issues" for the border between Ireland, an EU member, and Northern Ireland, which is part of the U.K. The DUP affirmed their opposition after the deal was announced.

Johnson's deal replaces the "backstop" agreement for the Irish border that was negotiated by his predecessor, Theresa May, but officials from Northern Ireland don't like that the new plan treats Northern Ireland differently than the other parts of the U.K. Michel Barnier, the EU's chief negotiator, said Thursday that the new deal won't result in a hard border, adding: "We are fully committed to protect peace, to protect stability on the island of Ireland."

Britain's main opposition parties, Labour and Liberal Democrats, both quickly rejected the deal. Liberal Democrats leader Jo Swinson called Johnson's deal "bad for our economy, bad for our public services and bad for our environment." Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Johnson's Brexit deal is "even worse" than May's, adding "This sell-out deal won't bring the country together and should be rejected." Without the DUP and its 10 votes, "Boris Johnson will not get the numbers to get a deal," said BBC deputy political editor Norman Smith. "That is just an arithmetical fact." Peter Weber

August 20, 2019

The nails seem to be approaching the coffin for Brexit negotiations.

That's because the European Union has rejected U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson's latest request to scrap the Irish border backstop from a new withdrawal agreement, The Guardian reports.

Johnson reportedly sent European Council President Donald Tusk a letter detailing alternative methods ahead of the Oct. 31 Article 50 deadline, but Tusk was having none of it, maintaining that the continuation of an open border in Ireland is vital. He said that Johnson offered no viable options for preventing a hard border from arising, while the EU dismissed Johnson's argument that the backstop was anti-democratic.

On the other hand, Johnson said that he felt the EU was being too pessimistic about the matter and that he still believes a deal can be reached before the deadline, though he has not relented on the necessity of the backstop's removal from negotiations, RTE reports. At the same time, Johnson said the U.K. has no intention of implementing any new border checks or infrastructure at the Irish border that could threaten the integrity of the 1998 Good Friday agreement, which has kept the peace on the island for over two decades. The EU described Johnson's claim that two separate legal and economic jurisdictions could exist with an open border as "misleading." Tim O'Donnell

April 10, 2019

British Prime Minister Theresa May has accepted an offer from European Union leaders to extend Brexit until Oct. 31, European Council President Donald Tusk announced late Wednesday.

"This means additional six months for the U.K. to find the best possible solution," Tusk tweeted. The Brexit deadline was set for Friday, and May had requested an extension to June 30. British lawmakers have been unable to pass an exit deal, and May has said if her proposal is accepted, she will step down.

EU leaders expressed their frustration over having to deal with Brexit for so long, with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven saying they have "spent a lot of time, a lot of energy, on this issue, and we have so many important issues on the agenda that we need to get on with." Catherine Garcia

March 25, 2019

British lawmakers voted Monday night to take control of the parliamentary timetable on Wednesday, giving them the opportunity to vote on alternatives to Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal.

The amendment, put forward by a member of May's Conservative Party, passed 329 to 302, and three ministers resigned from May's government in order to support it. Alternatives to May's plan include leaving the European Union without a deal, extending the country's departure, and revoking Article 50 to remain in the EU, and Parliament will vote on a range of proposals Wednesday. A spokesman for the Department of Exiting the European Union told Reuters the government will "continue to call for realism — any options considered must be deliverable in negotiations with the EU."

The United Kingdom was supposed to leave the bloc on March 29; last week, the EU agreed to postpone Brexit until May 22 if British lawmakers agree to May's withdrawal deal, which has already been rejected twice. Otherwise, the EU will extend the delay only to April 12. Earlier Monday, May, who promised a clean break with the EU, said she did not have enough support to hold a third vote. For her deal to pass, at least 75 members of Parliament who voted against her on March 12 must join her side. Catherine Garcia

March 21, 2019

European Union leaders on Thursday offered the United Kingdom additional time to leave the bloc, delaying Brexit until May 22 if British lawmakers agree to Prime Minister Theresa May's withdrawal deal.

If not, the EU will accept a delay until April 12. The U.K. was previously set to leave the bloc on March 29.

Britain's Parliament has twice shot down May's EU deal, with lawmakers split on how to leave the EU and whether they should do so at all. "I will make every effort to make sure we can leave with a deal and move our country forward," May said. Catherine Garcia

March 13, 2019

It was a chaotic series of events at Westminster on Wednesday, as the British Parliament ultimately agreed to rule out a no-deal Brexit after three separate votes.

The first vote resulted in a much narrower outcome than Tuesday's lopsided vote to strike down Prime Minister Theresa May's withdrawal agreement: British parliament decided on Wednesday to rule out a "no-deal" Brexit at any point by a mere four votes — 312 to 308.

Members of Parliament also voted on Wednesday to reject the Malthouse Amendment, which called on the government to pursue a "managed" no-deal on May 22. That is, a withdrawal from the EU without a legitimate agreement, but one that allowed for a grace period to minimize disruption. There was a much clearer majority in this motion, with "no" votes tallying 374, to just 164 in favor.

The final vote was essentially a re-run of the first vote in light of the amendment vote. While the overall result remained the same, the defeat was much clearer with the margin rising to 43.

Wednesday's votes, it's worth noting, are not legally binding — the U.K. could very well still leave the European Union without a deal, unless separate legislation is passed, The Guardian reports. Instead it means that MPs will now have the opportunity to, you guessed it, vote again tomorrow, which May confirmed. That vote will be to see whether article 50, which currently triggers the U.K.'s departure on March 29, will be delayed, though the EU will also have to agree to the extension. Tim O'Donnell

March 12, 2019

As expected, Parliament voted against British Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit withdrawal plan for the second time on Tuesday.

The "no" vote won by a hearty margin — 391 to 242, forcing another parliamentary vote on Wednesday on whether to back a "no-deal" Brexit. Wednesday's vote will be a free vote for the Conservative Party — that is, members will vote according to their conscience rather than on party lines.

May said that although it's crucial that the U.K. secures a deal, she is committed to honoring the 2016 referendum. Therefore, the default remains that the U.K. will leave the European Union without a deal regarding new trade practices.

If members of Parliament vote against a "no-deal" Brexit, then there will be yet another vote on Thursday, in which MPs will vote to extend article 50, which all of Parliament hopes to avoid.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and Ian Blackford, the Scottish Nationalist Party leader at Westminster, said that May's second defeat was grounds for a general election and a second Brexit referendum, respectively. Tim O'Donnell

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