Saturday

22nd Jul 2017

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”.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • 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.

News in Brief

  1. Polish parliament adopts controversial justice reform
  2. GMO opt-out plan unlikely to go anywhere in 2017
  3. Slovak PM threatens to boycott inferior food
  4. France takes Google's 'right to be forgotten' to EU court
  5. Turkey accuses German companies of supporting terror
  6. Israel's Netanyahu caught calling EU 'crazy'
  7. UK does not collect enough data to expel EU nationals
  8. Polish president threatens to veto justice reform

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  2. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  3. ECPAFood waste in the field can double without crop protection. #WithOrWithout #pesticides
  4. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  5. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  6. Martens CentreWeeding out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Episode 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug
  9. CESICESI to Participate in Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee on Postal Services
  10. ILGA-EuropeMalta Keeps on Rocking: Marriage Equality on Its Way
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEuFoA Director and MEPs Comment on the Recent Conflict Escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh
  12. EU2017EEEstonian Presidency Kicks off Youth Programme With Coding Summer School

Latest News

  1. Dutch coalition talks lengthiest in 40 years
  2. Polish parliament steps up showdown with EU
  3. EU urges UK to clarify its Brexit positions
  4. Law expert: direct EU powers have become too complicated
  5. Winter is here for Spitzenkandidat, but he'll survive
  6. Mafia money pollutes the EU economy
  7. Central Europe should be wary of Brexit stopping
  8. Poland's 'July coup' and what it means for the judiciary