More Brexit drama

[UPDATE: All eight indicative votes were defeated, all but one of them (a pro-Remain one) by hefty margins, so we seem to be back to square one. I have been watching the livestream of the parliament with great interest. MPs are struggling to figure out what to do next, given the Friday deadline. Pressure is being put on the speaker to allow a third vote on May’s plan but he seems unmoved.]

British prime minister Theresa May has said that she will step down as leader before the next phase of Brexit negotiations, presumably as a last-ditch effort to get recalcitrant Conservative MPs and the DUP to back her plan.

“I have heard very clearly the mood of the parliamentary party. I know there is a desire for a new approach – and new leadership – in the second phase of the Brexit negotiations and I won’t stand in the way of that,” May said, according to a transcript released afterwards.

“I know some people are worried that if you vote for the withdrawal agreement, I will take that as a mandate to rush on into phase two without the debate we need to have. I won’t; I hear what you are saying. But we need to get the deal through and deliver Brexit.

“I am prepared to leave this job earlier than I intended in order to do what is right for our country and our party.”

She did not give a date for her departure though, and since she cannot bring up her plan for a third vote without substantive changes, things remain somewhat murky. Her announcement also serves as the starting gun for a free-for-all for the party leadership that is now going to consume a lot of the political oxygen. While she did not rule out staying on as party leader if her plan is defeated, I cannot see it as a serious possibility. Her rivals for the leadership know she is on the ropes and are not going to let up the pressure on her to quit.

Meanwhile in the long-running drama that is Brexit, British MPs are voting today on eight so-called ‘indicative measures’ that are supposed to give people a sense of where parliament stands on the issues. This article explains how the process will unfold and that we should have the results by about 6:00pm Eastern US time US.


  1. file thirteen says

    May’s promises to step down if her deal is approved in the last desperate move to get it approved, but it’s a sideshow. The DUP have already said they still won’t vote for it, and if so, it’s dead in the water. So May stays on. Her days are numbered, but they already were. I await with interest the results of the indicative votes.

  2. Dunc says

    And… It’s a firm “no” to all 8 options offered. It would be enough to drive a man to drink, if I hadn’t started already.

  3. file thirteen says

    All indicative votes failed to get a majority, which accurately reflects exactly how united and willing to compromise the commons are. Entering a customs union with the EU and requiring a public vote were the ones that lost with the slimmest margin.

    Maybe May’s Norwegian Blue can still be made to squawk?

  4. deepak shetty says

    I wonder why they didnt try a preferentially ranked vote so that they would have arrived at a decision ?

  5. Mano Singham says


    I do not know why but I can guess. With ranked choice voting you would end up with at least one getting a majority but it might not mean anything. This was not binding and you would have to bring up the winner later for an up-or-down vote anyway. So if it could not get a majority now, it likely would not get a majority later either.

  6. Dunc says

    I wonder why they didnt try a preferentially ranked vote so that they would have arrived at a decision ?

    That’s the next stage of the process, supposed to happen on Monday. This stage was just intended to determine which of the options could possibly be acceptable to a majority of MPs. Since the answer to that was “none of them”, I’m honestly not sure what happens now… I think the idea is to try May’s deal for the third time (if they can somehow get round Bercow’s ruling that they can’t keep bringing the same motion back unchanged), then if that fails again, maybe have a ranked-choice vote on the least-unpopular options from last night, but we’re now completely making it up as we go, so who knows?

    I’m not convinced they really want to arrive at a decision. Arriving at a decision would mean taking responsibility for it.

  7. brucegee1962 says

    Has anyone brought up the possibility of all going to QE2 with hats in hand and saying “looks like this whole business with Parliament taking over in 1688 hasn’t worked out — you decide what we should do”?

  8. brucegee1962 says

    More seriously, when will the next “Scotland bugging out” vote take place? I’d think it would pass in a landslide, as everyone in Scotland wouldn’t be able to leave this mess fast enough.

  9. Dunc says

    More seriously, when will the next “Scotland bugging out” vote take place? I’d think it would pass in a landslide, as everyone in Scotland wouldn’t be able to leave this mess fast enough.

    That’s actually a tricky one… One the one hand, yes, the current mess certainly does lend credence to the idea that getting out of the UK like it was a burning building is probably a good idea, but on the other, we’re getting a first-hand look at just how difficult dissolving these sorts of relationships can be. Also, it’s thrown two of the key arguments of independence supporters (such as myself) -- that it wouldn’t actually be too complicated because both iScotland and rUK would almost certainly remain in the EU, and that Westminster would behave like grown-ups once the decision was made, even if they didn’t like it -- into severe doubt. I’m still pro-indy, but things have become a lot more complicated since the last time…

    I doubt that we’ll see a new IndyRef until the Brexit mess is settled. One constitutional crisis at a time seems quite enough.

  10. file thirteen says

    The latest news is that commons will circumvent the speaker’s ruling that duplicate motions can’t be raised in a single parliamentary session by holding a motion on only the withdrawal part of the agreement, leaving the political declaration to be left out for now.

    To continue with my dead parrot sketch analogy, this is akin to attempting to sell the body of the parrot to the Commons, but not its ugly head. The speaker has approved this because it isn’t an attempt to sell the entire same parrot again.

    The EU are aware that parrots must have heads, but say that which head is chosen is a matter for the UK to determine. They merely want to ensure that it is in fact a parrot that is sold, of a type that was agreed.

    Labour and others are protesting that they already voted against the body of the parrot when the ugly head was included. They point out that was bad enough, but now any head at all might be presented by the Government to be bolted on.

    Customer: “Do you in fact have any other heads that might go on this parrot?”
    Proprietor: “…I’ve got a slug.”
    Customer: “Can it talk?”

    Bootiful plumage though!

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