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Brexit
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

March 12, 2019

Despite winning a last-minute, legally binding concession from the European Union on Monday evening, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May is still likely to lose a parliamentary vote on her Brexit plan on Tuesday.

May struck the agreement with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at a meeting in France on Monday night, guaranteeing that the Irish border backstop, which would keep the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland open, would be a temporary measure, meaning that the U.K. will not be tied to EU customs regulations "indefinitely." But the deal was not enough to sway some of the more Euroskeptic parties in Britain's parliament.

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), a conservative, pro-Brexit party from Northern Ireland that props up May's government, announced on Tuesday that all 10 of its members would vote against the deal, striking a crucial blow for May. The DUP released a statement saying that "sufficient progress has not been achieved" in negotiations with the EU. May, for her part, argued on Tuesday that supporting her withdrawal agreement is the only way to ensure avoiding a "no-deal" Brexit.

The Financial Times reported that without the DUP "there would seem to be no way that" most other conservative holdouts would swing toward May, though a few conservative "rebels" have, indeed, provided some hope for the prime minister. But those votes are not expected to be nearly enough to secure a victory. The Guardian echoed that sentiment, reporting that unless there is "an avalanche" of vote-switching, May will almost assuredly lose. Tim O'Donnell

February 20, 2019

Brexit isn't the only political crisis tearing the U.K.'s Parliament apart.

Three Conservative and eight Labour members of Parliament have left their parties in the past few days, and they have a surprisingly unified reason, BBC reports. All the defectors are fed up with Brexit proceedings and how their parties are being run, so they're coming together under a newly formed Independent Party.

Britain voted in June 2016 to leave the European Union, but just how that's happening has been a total mystery ever since. Parliament hasn't confirmed a Brexit deal with the EU, it doesn't really want a Brexit with no deal, and it hasn't opted for a referendum on the entire thing. Prime Minister Theresa May has just barely retained her seat through it all.

The leadership crisis has spanned both major parties, with seven Labour MPs first announcing their resignation from the party on Monday, CNN says. One defector, Luciana Berger, cited anti-Semitism within the party and said it had been "hijacked by the machine politics of the hard left." Joan Ryan, an eighth Labour defector, joined the new Independent Group on Tuesday. And on Wednesday, three Conservatives joined the Independents on account of "this government's disastrous handling of Brexit," they said in a letter to May.

The 11-member, centrist party is already united under the premise of fixing a "broken" political system, per its Twitter. The Labour Party is now seemingly worried about losing more MPs, as staffers lost access to voter rolls Wednesday, per The Guardian. Kathryn Krawczyk

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