Friday

19th Apr 2019

British MPs get chance to shape Brexit strategy

  • Government accused of having no idea how to handle EU talks as clock ticks to negotiations in March (Photo: UK Parliament)

British prime minister Theresa May continued to talk tough on Brexit in a parliament debate on Wednesday (12 October), but left room for MPs to prevent a future trade war with the EU.

Responding to questions by the opposition Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn, she said she would seek “maximum possible access to the European market for firms to trade with and operate within”.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Corbyn said "shambolic" Tory approach was harming companies and jobs (Photo: Reuters)

But she added: “I’m also very clear that the vote of the British people said that we should control the movement of people from the EU into the UK, and unlike the right honourable gentleman [Corbyn] we believe we should deliver on what the British people want.”

She also indicated that she would seek a unique deal for the EU instead of trying to retain membership of the single market or the EU customs union.

“We are not asking ourselves what bits of our membership we want to retain,” she said.

May ruled out giving MPs a vote on whether to approve her future Brexit strategy before she triggered the negotiating process by invoking article 50 of the EU treaty.

But she conceded to hold a parliamentary discussion on the strategy prior to the invocation.

"The idea that parliament somehow wasn't going to be able to discuss, debate, question ... was frankly completely wrong," she said, noting that MPs would have “every opportunity to debate” her government’s ideas.

The future debate will give pro-EU MPs an opportunity to create political pressure to avoid a rupture in EU trade relations.

The discussion was also enshrined in a Labour party motion, passed Wednesday, saying that parliament must have “a full and transparent debate” to “properly scrutinise” the government’s plans before the article 50 move.

But May’s ruling Tory party added an amendment to the text, saying: “The process should be undertaken in such a way that respects the decision of the people of the UK when they voted to leave the EU” and that it should "not undermine the negotiating position of the government”.

'Shambolic Tory Brexit'

Wednesday’s talks had earlier seen Corbyn grill May on whether continued single market access was “a red line for the government or not”.

He attacked the prime minister for trying to please Tory eurosceptics instead of protecting the national interest and for delays in drafting a detailed Brexit plan.

“Is the prime minister really willing to risk a shambolic Tory Brexit, just to appease the people behind her?”, he said.

“This is a government that drew up no plans for Brexit, that now has no strategy for negotiating Brexit, and offers no clarity, no transparency”, he added.

“The jobs and incomes of millions of people are at stake, the pound is plummeting, businesses are worrying and the government has no answers”.

Two Labour shadow ministers, Emily Thornberry and Keir Starmer, also tabled a list of 170 questions - one for every day before the end of March, when May said he would trigger article 50 - for May to answer.

The questions also focused on single market access and on immigration controls.

Pound at lowest

Financial markets have reacted nervously to the prospect of the UK crashing out of EU trade structures by forcing down the value of the pound to historic lows.

The pound rallied slightly when news of May’s agreement to the parliament Brexit debate came out.

But other indicators backed up Corbyn’s analysis of the damage done by continued uncertainty over future EU-UK relations.

The pound’s “effective exchange rate”, a way of measuring its value by comparing it to a basket of currencies used by its main trading partners, fell to its lowest level in 168 years this week.

The news came after leaked government figures said Brexit could cost the UK as much as £66 billion (€73bn) a year.

A government Brexit adviser, Raoul Ruparel, has also said that leaving the EU customs union would incur a “permanent” cost of £25 billion a year, or up to 1.2 percent of British GDP.

May: Brexit is 'quiet revolution'

The British prime minister concluded the Tory party conference in the UK by pledging to regain control of immigration and by taking a swipe at pro-EU elites.

British MPs battling for a say on Brexit

Conservative and Labour MPs want to be able to vote on the government's negotiating position with the EU, with some even considering joining a legal challenge.

Scotland rattles sabre on independence

The Scottish first minister said that a bill for a referendum would be published next week and attacked the British prime minister over her EU exit positions.

Opinion

Why British MPs must play Brexit role

Using legal technicalities to frustrate MPs from holding the government to account on Brexit is a tactical misjudgement.

Feature

'Swexit' off menu at election for first time in 24 years

The Swedish Left Party have abandoned euroscepticism to campaign on climate change - whilst the hard-right Sweden Democrats spy possibilities of a link up with Matteo Salvini of Italy and France's Marine Le Pen.

Opinion

Brexit vs Grexit: The six stages of losing to the EU

Theresa May's venture seems very similar to the attempt by Alexis Tsipras in 2015 to persuade Brussels to accept his terms for the bail out - a huge negotiation failure, presented to the public as the best possible deal.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Romania drafts EU code on NGO migrant rescues
  2. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Malta shamed on press unfreedom
  3. EU drafts $20bn US sanctions list in aviation dispute
  4. Brunei defends stoning to death of gay men in EU letter
  5. US Democrats side with Ireland on Brexit
  6. Wifi or 5G to connect EU cars? MEPs weigh in
  7. How Brexit may harm the new EU parliament
  8. EU parliament backs whistleblower law

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  6. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  7. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  8. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  9. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  11. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  12. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us