Commentary Brexit

New Brexit plan simply doesn’t add up

One of the oldest Parliaments in the world is going to experience a small revolution on March 13th. Its members will vote whether laws should be heeded or not.

Theresa May said she would let MPs vote on the so-called no-deal Brexit, if the divorce agreement between the EU and the UK wasn’t approved at the next session. However, according to the current law, Britain is due to leave the EU by the end of March. Anything the UK can negotiate in the meantime would be extra.

Even if the MPs voted against a no-deal scenario, it wouldn’t change a thing. The original law will not cease to apply. It would be possible to vote on the law itself, but that’s not something May plans. So, what if the MPs say that the law doesn’t have to be heeded? May would then call for a vote over an extension of the negotiating period.

Realistically, it could be extended by a couple of months until the new European Parliament convenes. It would be naïve to expect those few months to change anything. On the contrary, a strict negotiation period deadline is the only thing pushing negotiators towards a reciprocal compromise.

Eventually, the vote may not happen as there will be an earlier one on 12th about the Brexit deal, and May wants to see concessions from the EU by then. However, the EU won’t move an inch given the new prospect of a postponed Brexit. 

It remains unclear what will happen if all the upcoming votes fail to get a majority. Yet it reveals a bigger problem. It is hard to use a binary vote when you have to choose from three options – May’s deal, no-deal, and prolongation.

It may be possible to tell the MPs to write down the options in order of preference, but it would still be challenging to make anything out of it. There is no way to aggregate MPs’ preferences into a ranking of their collective will without breaking many sensible requirements.

Let’s wait to see what a possible ‘triple no’ can bring. Brits managed without a written constitution before the EU, with a lot of pragmatic patching, so they will do the same henceforth.

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