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UK MPs vote against a "no deal" withdrawal

Editorial Staff

Here's a good argument in favour of leaving the EU: last night the UK's House of Commons voted against leaving the European Union without a deal in place to ensure an orderly exit. But, they are impotent : whether the UK leaves on 29th March without a negotiated "divorce," is governed by the Lisbon Treaty. And the Lisbon Treaty is superior to British law and, even, the British Parliament.

Now the only viable courses of action for May are

- ask the EU for more time. The EU has already expressed dissatisfaction with that idea.

- withdraw the Article 50 notice and start again with the benefit of knowledge.

MPs are more than a little cross with May who is seen as having acted in a somewhat Presidential manner: doing a deal with the EU in circumstances that many consider to have been behind closed doors and excluding Parliament. They think they should have been entitled to contribute far more, perhaps by way of votes, on the nature, shape and even size of the UK's withdrawal. This has been a festering sore ever since the Government put forward its plans on how it would deal with so-called Brexit. Some saw, with some justification, that the plan, in effect, ousted the authority of Parliament. As a result, much of the trouble in the Commons has not been about the terms per se but about the way Parliament has been treated.

There is a third, but ridiculous, option: May could put the deal back for another vote. Given the trouncing that she has twice suffered, that seems like a dumb idea but the last few months have seen one dumb idea after another. She is, increasingly, having to plead with Parliament and Parliament has a hard heart.

There is a possibility that, if a successor could be found in which enough of her own party have faith, she could do a deal with the party to vote for the deal with approval being conditional upon her resignation.

This farce has absorbed so much Parliamentary and media time that the ordinary business of government has gone on without public scrutiny. Laws have been passed, Regulations brought into force with barely a mention.

But out in the real world, there is no serious risk to UK citizens and businesses - and to those who trade with the UK and those who appeared to be jumping the gun over setting up schemes to avoid the worst of the shocks of a no-deal exit now look as if they were sensible.

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