13 Mar 2017

Brexit – next chapter

Shakespearean drama to be played this week in the UK and the EU


There is this joke. A blond girl was asked what is the chance to see an alligator on the North Pole. 50/50 – said the girl—you will either see, or you won’t.

Similarly, although not as playfully, is the 50/50% chance to witness the next chapter in the most intense political drama of the last 20 years – Brexit. According to sources in the British government, if later on today the Parliament finally gives Theresa May the legal right to trigger Article 50, she might do so in the next 2 days.

Last week, it seemed almost impossible for May and her government to get close to initiating the separation process, not after the House of Lords returned the prepared bill for amendments and corrections. But May’s MPs worked quickly and today the bill is returning to the House of commons with 2 new amendments. The first one concerns EU citizens living in the UK and the second one, secures the role of Parliament to have a final vote over the deal which the EU and the UK will negotiate in the near future.

The question is why something that seemed so unlikely to happen until the end of the month, all of a sudden becomes a matter of days, and what are the consequences? According to some specialists, if Theresa May triggers “the separation machine” on Wednesday, when the Netherlands’ elections are, she might be performing a diplomatic mistake. The country, which is going through a very rickety election campaign, will vote for its new leaders on Wednesday. One of the main “players” is the leader of the far-right Party for Freedom (currently second position in the latest polls), Geert Wilders. He has already expressed his approval of Brexit by calling it “patriotic spring” and if Theresa May opens the negotiations with the EU on Wednesday it could be taken as interfering with the elections.

On the other side, the British PM is rushed by rumours that Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister in Scotland, will schedule another Independence referendum. At the end of the last week, Surgeon gave an interview where she mentioned that in the autumn next year there might be another referendum. This morning she called a press conference at Bute House, her official residence in Edinburgh, where she once again insisted that the British government needs to take under consideration the requirements of Scotland. She is expecting her “special place on the table” or “we’re not staying for dinner” ultimatum to arrive on Downing Street today.

The British government has already stated that is refusing to bow in such demands and there is no chance to change its plans now.

More about how the drama will unfold in the next act will be clear later this afternoon. If the MPs in the House of commons say yes to the amendments and approve the whole bill – then Theresa May is to decide when to trigger Article 50.  If the MPs – do not accept the changes, then the bill will be sent to the House of Lords again to decide whether to approve it or not.