Theresa May’s European Union (EU) Brexit withdrawal agreement is the preferred way forward for the freight industry, according to the Freight Transport Association (FTA).
Members of Parliament will vote on whether to accept the British government’s proposals. However, most observers agree that the government will be defeated by between 100 and 220 votes. Depending on the size of the defeat, the deal could be considered to be dead in the water.
Pauline Bastidon, the FTA’s head of policy and Brexit told FreightWaves, “Our preferred option is for Theresa May’s deal, because that means we have another 21 months to agree to a deal and to prepare and we can have another year with a year’s extension.”
However, Bastidon accepted that Parliament is unlikely to pass the deal. Indications are that May will return to Parliament with an amended deal on Friday. If the government is defeated, the Labour Party has said it will call for a vote of “no confidence” in the Government. This is unlikely to gain the support of the majority in the House of Commons. Of the other options, no deal or another referendum, these cannot get the support of the majority of the members of Parliament (MPs) either. Therefore, a defeat of May’s deal will throw Britain into further disarray.
Voting in Parliament will start on the four amendments at around 7:00 p.m. local time today. There will be one amendment each from the Labour Party and the Scottish Nationalists; both amendments reject the deal and call for a renegotiation of Brexit. The other two amendments call for an end to the Irish backstop. The first calls for an end to the withdrawal deal if the backstop is still in operation at the end of 2021. The fourth amendment would allow the British Government to end the backstop unilaterally.
None of the four amendments are expected to be passed. One further amendment was not selected to be voted on by the Speaker of the House. That amendment supported the Government’s deal but included several clauses which included a report to Parliament on how negotiations were proceeding in March 2020 (and if the trade agreement is not in place), to give Parliament a vote on whether to implement border controls or to implement the backstop. Another clause mandated that if the backstop option was chosen there would be a requirement by government to conclude negotiations within a year.