British MPs running out of options to block no-deal Brexit, report warns
Stopping the UK from leaving the European Union without a deal is “very unlikely” due to the lack of time to secure a new agreement and reduced opportunities for lawmakers to legislate against it, the Institute for Government has concluded in a report.
The UK-based thinktank highlights that although the country’s new Prime Minister Boris Johnson has indicated preferring to leave the bloc with a deal, the scope of that happening is very slim.
MPs are currently on summer recess and are not scheduled to get back to Westminster until September 3. Johnson has stressed that the UK would leave the EU by October 31 “do or die,” leaving just 58 days for the two parties to meet for negotiations, agree on a new deal and have it approved by their respective parliaments.
The British leader wants the EU to abandon the backstop arrangement which plans for Northern Ireland to remain in the bloc’s customs union to prevent a hard border — which the EU has continuously rejected.
If no new deal is agreed, and with the legal default being a no-deal Brexit, lawmakers opposed to such an event are unlikely to be able to derail the process, the report notes.
Joe Owen, Brexit director at the Institute for Government, explained that “MPs looking to force the government into a change of approach face a huge challenge when parliament returns.”
“Even if they can assemble a majority for something, they may find few opportunities to make their move — and time is running out.”
Deploying the “nuclear option” — a vote of no confidence — would probably not block a no-deal exit either.
Should the government lose — which would require at least one Conservative lawmaker to rebel — it would still be allowed to remain in power during a 14 day-period even if an alternative government could be found or call a second vote which could cancel out the first one.
With snap elections requiring a five-week build-up by law, “Johnson could try to set a date after 31 October, thereby ensuring that the UK left without a deal first,” the report states.
Holding a second referendum before the Brexit deadline also appears unlikely as it would need government support and another extension to Article 50.
In an interview with the Tiroler Tageszeitung newspaper over the weekend, outgoing European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said that “the British would be the big losers” in a no-deal Brexit scenario.
He reiterated that the EU was not open to new sweeping negotiations and stressed that it is “fully prepared even though some in Britain say we are not well set up for a ‘no deal’ (Brexit).”