International Elections Digest: Who's to blame for the UK's lack of a Brexit deal? Take your pick
The Daily Kos International Elections Digest is compiled by Stephen Wolf and David Beard, with additional contributions from James Lambert and Daniel Donner, and is edited by David Nir.
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● United Kingdom – Brexit
Brexit has plunged the United Kingdom into deep turmoil, and no one knows how it will emerge. Below, we’ll explore why the world’s fifth-largest economy is mired in this fix, and what might happen next.
Matters reached an ugly crescendo this week when Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May’s “Brexit” deal—the U.K.’s transitional agreement with the European Union (EU) to leave the supranational union—went down to defeat in Parliament by a vote of 202-432 on Tuesday, the biggest loss for a motion put forward by a sitting British government in over 100 years. This in turn led to a vote of no confidence, which May and her Tories survived in spite of their humiliating failure a day earlier, winning 325-306 with the help of their allies, Northern Ireland’s right-wing Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).
Combined, these two votes kept the status quo in place, with May’s government surviving but also with no feasible deal to leave the EU capable of winning a parliamentary majority. But the clock is ticking: Brexit is currently scheduled to happen on March 29, with or without a deal. A “No Deal” or “hard” Brexit, where all trade between the U.K. and EU reverts to World Trade Organization (WTO) terms, would be the worst-case outcome for both the U.K. and the union, but hardline anti-Europe extremists nonetheless embrace the possibility.
How did the United Kingdom get stuck in this situation, careening towards a no-deal scenario that almost no one wants? There’s an epic quantum of blame to go around, and heaps of fault lie with former Tory Prime Minister David Cameron, who allowed the referendum in the first place, and Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn, who was never able to articulate a clear stance against it, among many others (including Vladimir Putin).
But in terms of the morass the UK is in right now—that is to say, the government’s utter inability to come up with any sort of viable way for dealing with Brexit—there are four main players you can point a finger at. We’ll start with the most obvious: the prime minister herself.