UK members of parliament (MPs) have rejected a proposal to delay the UK’s departure from the EU that was put forward to prevent a no-deal Brexit.
The amendment, proposed by Labour MP Yvette Cooper but rejected by 23 votes, came as MPs voted on a series of changes to Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plan before she seeks a renegotiation with the EU – even though Brussels has said it will not re-open talks or change the legal text agreed with May.
Most of the amendments proposed by MPs were voted down by the House.
Two amendments were passed by MPs. One asked parliamentarians to back the government’s deal, with the exception of the so-called ‘Irish backstop’. Following Brexit, the UK and the EU will enter a “transition period” during which the UK will abide by EU rules, and the two sides will negotiate their future relationship, covering trade, security and other factors. The “backstop” is the formal legal arrangement that will ensure no hard border on the island of Ireland, should the UK and the EU fail to reach an agreement on this future relationship by the end of the transition period.
Many MPs dislike the backstop because it leads to a differential treatment between Northern Ireland, which would remain covered by some ‘single market’ rules, and the rest of the UK. In addition, once implemented it could only be terminated with the agreement of both the EU and the UK. As such, some MPs fear it could leave the UK tied to the EU’s rules indefinitely.
The government supported this amendment as a means of getting a clear negotiating mandate for talks with the EU to replace the backstop with some – as yet unspecified – “alternative arrangements.”
However, it is far from clear that the EU will want to renegotiate the formal Withdrawal Agreement, and in particular the Irish backstop.
At the same time, MPs also supported a symbolic amendment that called on the government to rule out leaving the EU without a deal. “While this is not binding on the government – and MPs voted against more substantive amendments that could have forced the government to reject a no-deal Brexit – it illustrates that most MPs still want to avoid the damage that a no-deal Brexit would cause. This could presage further parliamentary defeats for the government if negotiations fail to bear fruit,” note analysts at Moody’s Investors Service.
They agree the immediate effect of the votes is to prolong the uncertainty about the future direction of Brexit.
“While MPs have given the government a negotiating steer, we do not yet know how the EU will react. Ultimately, despite considerable disagreement among MPs, the three final Brexit outcomes that we had previously flagged remain: a negotiated exit; a No Deal Brexit; or no Brexit at all.
“The risk of a disorderly no-deal Brexit in particular remains high; and such an outcome would have significant negative credit consequences for a range of issuers.”
Apparel industry trade bodies maintain a No Deal Brexit must be avoided at all costs.
Speaking to just-style, Tamara Cincik, founder of Fashion Roundtable – a group of fashion, business, economic and political experts that advocate for long term strategic and sustainable growth of the apparel industry – said its UK and international industry partners are “very worried.”
“The threat of Brexit has caused uncertainty and has left a lot of people feeling insecure in their work. This impacts on growth, location, as well as research and innovation decisions.
“The best outcome would be a close relationship with the European Union, that enables the flexibility required by the fashion industry and our global supply chains, to maintain international competitiveness.”
Earlier this week, Turkish apparel industry trade body IHKIB warned Turkey’s US$2bn worth of textile and clothing exports to the UK would be dealt a “severe hit” in the event of a No-Deal Brexit with the EU.