Since Christmas, the Return of Mary Poppins, with actress Emily Blunt in the role of the most famous nanny in the world, is a British box office. Theresa May does not look like Mary Poppins at all. In fact, from her red leather suitcase stamped with Queen Elizabeth II's coat of arms – the cradle of official state papers – she did not release any miraculous recipe. She tried the traditional "Piece of sugar that helps medicine to flow," but the deputies have not been fooled. Nothing in its Plan B, which looks terribly like Plan A, suggests that the British Prime Minister will be able to convince MEPs to support her and adopt the EU withdrawal agreement on January 29, at the next voted vote in Parliament.
After three days of discussions and a weekend of intense reflection, May claimed to have "Listened and heard" the reservations of the different parties. But she came to Parliament with the same deal that earned her a stinging defeat last Tuesday, in fact the worst slap ever faced by a British prime minister in the House of Commons. She is "Behaves as if she had lost her vote by 30 votes and not 230!" Labor MP Yvette Cooper was again killed.
The tenant of 10 Downing Street did not spare the suspense. It quickly eliminated all the options demanded by the different factions of parliamentarians. No question of dismissing an exit from the EU without agreement. There is no question of considering requesting an extension of Article 50 to go beyond the deadline of 29 March. No question of considering his dismissal, which would mean "Stay in the EU". As for the possibility of a second referendum, the Prime Minister has once again reminded "Our duty is to apply the decision made in the first [référendum]".Members have therefore planned to table a series of amendments during the week, which will, in fact, propose these different scenarios. And will be put to the vote on January 29, the next crucial date of the infernal Brexit calendar. Only real surprise announcement, the Prime Minister has abolished the registration fees of European citizens for the famous "Settled status" that will allow them, after Brexit, to continue to live and work legally in the UK.
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May has essentially promised to consult primarily his troops, the most "brexiters" conservatives gathered in the European Research Group (ERG) and especially the deputies of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the small unionist party in Northern Ireland which provides a majority to his government. It announced its intention to review the famous "backstop", the safety net provided in case of failure of negotiations on a future trade agreement. The backstop plans to keep Northern Ireland in a customs union with the EU, to avoid the installation of a border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. However, the DUP and the most virulent brexiters are fiercely opposed to it. They think that this solution would cut Northern Ireland out of the rest of the Kingdom.
The Prime Minister, however, ruled out reopening the Good Friday peace agreement, signed in 1998, which ended the 30-year civil war in Northern Ireland. "I never even considered it," she insisted. She will then present "The results of these discussions in the European Union". His decision to consult first and foremost the DUP to try to find out what might be acceptable to this small party, gives the impression that May seeks above all to ensure its political survival. The DUP voted against the peace agreement in 1998 and for Brexit in 2016. The Unionist party is not in tune with the people of Northern Ireland who voted in favor of the peace agreement at 71% and 56% to stay in the EU.
Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn accused May of being "In deep denial" and judged his agreement "Absolutely impossible to pass". The Labor leader still refuses to engage in discussions with the Prime Minister if she persists in her refusal to exclude the possibility of an exit from the EU without agreement. "It's an endless day," Corbyn complained.
May has promised "More consultations" with the deputies, in particular on the political declaration, text that accompanies the withdrawal agreement and outlines, vague, the future relationship between the United Kingdom and the EU. Basically, in exchange for the support of MPs for the withdrawal agreement, which sets the conditions for its release, it promises to listen more to their opinions to draw the links of the future. The problem is that she asks parliamentarians to believe her word for listening. But few seem inclined, in his party or opposition. Labor Minister Hilary Benn ruled that the Prime Minister had "Maybe his door is open, but his mind remains closed." May takes a new bet: 67 days of Brexit, she relies on the pressure of time and a panic to convince "Remainers" like the "Leavers" to support, a little by default, his agreement. While hoping that the EU will also let go, once again, a bit of ballast. Not sure she wins this last bet.
Sonia Delesalle-Stolper Correspondent in London