UK Parliament seeks new options on Brexit

The main opposition Labour Party is backing two proposals which would keep Britain close to the European Union after Brexit, but both would face strong resistance from May and most of her Brexit-backing ministers.

NO 276 to 273 Customs Union (C): Conservative grandee Kenneth Clarke wants the United Kingdom to leave the EU having secured a permanent customs union with the bloc at a minimum, and for this to be enshrined in primary legislation. Notably, there was almost a majority for remaining in the customs union (264-272)-under which Britain retains a common tariff with the EU and gains the right to stop free movement of EU nationals, but has limited scope for negotiating free trade agreements.

Eight motions have been proposed and the opposition Labour Party is expected to put forward its plan this morning.

As London politics continue to churn, the European Union has concluded its contingency planning for a no-deal outcome.

The House of Commons held a first round of votes last week on various Brexit options but failed to agree, and is now hoping to produce a clearer result today.

May has ruled out all the ideas under consideration.

Parliament will vote on different Brexit options on Monday and then May could try one last roll of the dice by bringing her deal back to a vote in parliament as soon as Tuesday.

Defense Minister Tobias Ellwood urged fellow Conservative lawmakers to compromise to ensure an orderly Brexit.

Conservative former Attorney General Dominic Grieve, who has campaigned for a further referendum on the deal, is facing deselection after losing a vote of no-confidence in his Beaconsfield constituency.

On the day the country was originally scheduled to leave the EU, March 29, MPs voted down May's deal with the bloc for the third time. The government could also pit May's deal against the favored indicative choice.

Sterling rose on investor hopes that May would be forced to go for a softer Brexit than planned.

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"I fear we are reaching the limits of this process in this House", the prime minister said last week, fuelling speculation that the only way out may be a general election.

A long delay raises the chances of an early British election, which could rearrange Parliament and break the political deadlock. But the Conservatives are anxious that could hand power to the opposition Labour Party.

Cabinet ministers will meet tomorrow to discuss the outcome of the ballots, and could still decide to hold a fourth vote on May's deal on Wednesday or Thursday.

But if a customs union pledge was agreed by Parliament, it would likely be welcomed by the EU and would allow Britain to leave the bloc in an orderly fashion in the next few months.

Justice Secretary David Gauke said leaving the bloc without a deal was "not the responsible thing for a government to do".

"The prime minister is reflecting on what the options are, and is considering what may happen but I don't think any decisions have been made", he told BBC TV.

Timothy Cairns said reports that the DUP was "split 7-3" in favour of backing Mrs May's deal were wrong.

The Brexit impasse has alarmed businesses, who say the uncertainty has deterred investment and undermined economic growth.

European Union leaders have called a special summit on April 10 to consider any request from Britain for a delay to Brexit - or to make last-minute preparations for Britain's departure without a deal two days later.

Mr Cameron tried to portray himself, in public, as a defender of British sovereignty against European Union powergrabbing in 2014 when he said of then-presidential candidate Juncker that he was the "wrong person" to lead the Commission, saying the Luxembourgish politician had been "at the heart of the project to increase the power of Brussels and reduce the power of nation states for his entire working life".

"Up to now, we know what the British parliament says no to, but we do not know what it says yes to".

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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