clearn.png
Monday March 18th, 2019 10:14PM

Brexit sparks showdown between UK Parliament and government

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

LONDON (AP) — As Brexit enters its endgame, the big divide is not between the U.K. and the European Union, but between Britain's government and its Parliament.

Since Britain and the EU struck a divorce deal late last year, the U.K.'s executive and legislature have been at war, with Prime Minister Theresa May struggling to win Parliament's backing for the deal ahead of a vote next week, and lawmakers battling to grab control of the Brexit process.

A series of heated debates and stunning government defeats has made for high political drama — and destabilized a country without a formal written constitution, whose democracy rests on centuries of accumulated laws, precedents and conventions.

As lawmakers held a second day of rancorous debate on the Brexit deal on Thursday, London School of Economics professor Iain Begg said Britain is "getting very close" to a constitutional crisis.

"It's pretty clear that if Theresa May loses the vote next week, we don't actually know what happens next," Begg said. "And that's beyond political."

The divorce agreement lays out the terms of the U.K.'s departure from the EU on March 29 and sets the framework for future relations. It was sealed by Britain and the EU in November — a milestone that should have set the U.K. on the road to an orderly exit.

But it has displeased both sides of Britain's Brexit divide. Many lawmakers who back leaving the EU say it leaves the U.K. tethered to the bloc's rules and unable to forge an independent trade policy, while pro-Europeans argue it is inferior to the frictionless economic relationship Britain currently enjoys as an EU member.

May postponed a vote on the agreement in December to avert a crushing defeat, and signs suggest the House of Commons will reject the deal in a rescheduled vote on Tuesday.

An already fractious Brexit debate turned feverish Wednesday when lawmakers passed an amendment forcing the government to come back to Parliament with a new plan within three working days of the deal being rejected.

Pro-Brexit lawmakers said the amendment should not have been allowed. They accused Commons Speaker John Bercow, who is supposed to be the impartial arbiter of House rules, of tearing up parliamentary precedent and siding with anti-Brexit legislators.

Conservative legislator Crispin Blunt said it appeared to many "that the referee is no longer neutral." Another Conservative, Adam Holloway, accused Bercow of having a rude anti-Brexit sticker on his car. (Bercow replied that the car, and the sticker, belonged to his wife).

Britain's lively and partisan newspapers also weighed in. "Out of order," blared the Daily Mail, while the tabloid Sun branded Bercow the "Speaker of the devil."

Bercow was unrepentant.

"My job is not to be a cheerleader for the executive branch," he said. "My job is to stand up for the rights of the House of Commons."

Unfortunately for constitutional clarity, experts say both Bercow and his detractors have a point. As the ultimate authority in the House of Commons, the speaker had the power to allow a vote on an amendment to the government's business motion. But in doing so, he ignored both precedent and the advice of parliamentary staff.

The incident was the latest in a series of power struggles between the executive and the legislature over Brexit. After Britons voted in a 2016 referendum to leave the EU, May's government tried to trigger the formal exit process without a vote in Parliament. After a legal battle, the Supreme Court ruled that lawmakers must be consulted.

Since then, government and Parliament have feuded about who is driving the Brexit car. Lawmakers' position was strengthened when May lost her parliamentary majority in an ill-advised snap election in 2017.

"We are seeing pretty open tension between Parliament and government, and a Parliament that is willing to be quite assertive," said Alice Lilly, a senior researcher at the Institute for Government think tank. "Where that will go from here, who knows?"

To complicate matters, both Parliament and May's Conservative administration are split down the middle over Brexit.

A majority of lawmakers oppose a no-deal Brexit, which would impose barriers to trade with the EU, potentially triggering gridlock at ports, shortages of goods and volatile public anger.

But there is no agreement on what path to take instead. The 650 members of Parliament include 200 or more backers of May's deal, 100 or so supporters of a no-deal Brexit, multiple advocates of a "soft Brexit" that keeps Britain close to the EU, and a faction arguing for a second referendum.

"We hear repeatedly that Parliament is not going to allow a 'no-deal' Brexit, but the constitutional question that then comes up is: How?" Begg said.

"There doesn't seem to be a majority in Parliament for any of the available models for getting out of this predicament."

If May's deal is defeated next week, Parliament may get its chance to take control. It does not have much time. Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29 — deal or no deal.

"At some point is that government and Parliament are going to have to reach some kind of consensus," Lilly said. "There is a ticking clock, so there is a real sense of urgency around this."

___

Follow Jill Lawless on Twitter at http://Twitter.com/JillLawless

___

Follow AP's full coverage of Brexit at: https://www.apnews.com/Brexit

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP World News, AP Business
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Brexit sparks showdown between UK Parliament and government
As Brexit enters its endgame, the big divide is not between the U.K. and the European Union, but between Britain's government and its Parliament
11:53AM ( 5 minutes ago )
The Latest: FBI agents say shutdown affecting operations
The association that represents thousands of FBI agents says the partial federal government shutdown is affecting the bureau's operations
11:52AM ( 7 minutes ago )
Backstage drama accompanies Romania's debut in EU presidency
Romania's government is carrying backstage drama as it makes a debut in a new role at the European Union
11:42AM ( 16 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
The Latest: McConnell blocks Democrats' bid to force a vote
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is blocking an attempt by Democrats to force a vote on legislation to reopen the federal government
11:09AM ( 49 minutes ago )
US apparel firm cuts off Chinese factory in internment camp
U.S. apparel firm severs ties with Chinese factory in internment camp
11:03AM ( 56 minutes ago )
As Trump visits border, Texas landowners prepare wall fight
Some property owners on the border in Texas are vowing to reject buyout offers and preparing to fight the federal government in court if it moves to seize their land to build a wall
10:35AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
US, China leave next steps for trade talks unclear
US-China trade talks wrap up without clear word on progress; Asian markets fall back
5:44AM ( 6 hours ago )
Australia praises Thai action on Saudi woman seeking asylum
Australia's foreign minister has praised Thailand for its handling of a young Saudi woman who fled her family to seek asylum in Australia, but also reminded it of continuing concern about a Bahraini soccer player who remains in Thai detention
5:40AM ( 6 hours ago )
The shutdown today: President heads to the southern border
The shutdown today: President heads to the southern border
5:40AM ( 6 hours ago )
AP Online National News
The Latest: McConnell says Democrats have barrier 'allergy'
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says Democrats need help with "their brand new partisan allergy" to a barrier at the U.S.-Mexico border
10:58AM ( 1 hour ago )
German court rejects case of deadly Pakistan factory fire
A German court won't take up a civil case against a discount textile company whose clothes were produced in a factory in Pakistan that burned to the ground in 2012, killing more than 250 people
8:04AM ( 3 hours ago )
India establishes job quotas for poor upper caste members
India extends quotas in government jobs to poor upper caste people
7:14AM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Teacher strike delayed in second-largest US school district
The union representing teachers in Los Angeles _ the nation's second-largest school district _ postponed the start of a strike until Monday because of the possibility of a court-ordered delay of a walkout
10:11PM ( 13 hours ago )
Texas landowners dig in to fight Trump's border wall
Texas landowners dig in for long fight to stop Trump's border wall
10:06PM ( 13 hours ago )
The Latest: House passes bill to fund agencies amid shutdown
The House has approved a bill to fund the Treasury Department, the IRS and other agencies for the next year as part of a Democratic strategy to reopen the government on a piecemeal basis
8:47PM ( 15 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Stocks slip as US-China trade talks end; Macy's nosedives
US stocks are falling in early trading after a four-day winning streak. Macy's is taking a nosedive after reporting weak holiday sales.
10:18AM ( 1 hour ago )
Venezuela's Maduro to celebrate 2nd term as crisis deepens
President Nicolas Maduro is being sworn in for a second, six-year term amid widespread international repudiation that his increasingly authoritarian rule has stripped Venezuela of its last vestiges of democracy
9:50AM ( 2 hours ago )
Coke-funded group swayed China's obesity efforts, papers say
A new research paper says a food industry-funded group undermined China's efforts to keep obesity rates in check
9:29AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Business
The Latest: FBI agents say shutdown affecting operations
The association that represents thousands of FBI agents says the partial federal government shutdown is affecting the bureau's operations
11:52AM ( 7 minutes ago )
Backstage drama accompanies Romania's debut in EU presidency
Romania's government is carrying backstage drama as it makes a debut in a new role at the European Union
11:42AM ( 16 minutes ago )
Physicians criticize state lawsuits over pelvic mesh
Doctors who specialize in female pelvic medicine say lawsuits by four states over products used to treat pelvic floor disorders and incontinence might scare patients away from the best treatment options _ or maybe even push the products off the market
11:41AM ( 17 minutes ago )
US average mortgage rates fall; 30-year at 4.45 percent
U.S. long-term mortgage rates continued to fall this week, reaching their lowest levels in nine months
11:21AM ( 38 minutes ago )
Trump threatens emergency declaration ahead of border visit
Trump threatens to declare national emergency to circumvent Congress if he can't reach a deal with Democrats to fund his promised border wall as he headed to the U.S.-Mexico border
11:15AM ( 43 minutes ago )