Prime Minister Theresa May got green light on Tuesday night to make a new attempt to break open the Brexit agreement. The British pound got a big hit, because it already shows that May in Europe comes home from a cold funfair.
After a series of painful defeats, May finally booked a small win on Tuesday to Brexit. With a modest majority of 16 votes, the House of Commons has supported a proposal that opens the way for it to make alternative arrangements on the Irish border issue. Especially with coalition partner DUP and supporters of a tough Brexit within its Conservative party, there is a lot of resistance against the current solution. In addition, the border of Northern Ireland remains open to traffic of people and goods. A rear net in the Irish Sea then cuts the country in two ways.
The question is whether May should be happy with the victory. She now has to get back to work with European negotiators to adjust the existing agreement. Both Donald Tusk – President of the European Council – and French President Emmanuel Macron have already stressed on Tuesday that Britain must do with the agreement as it stands today. These agreements were completely rejected in the House of Commons two weeks ago: 432 against 202. Tusk added to his refusal to renegotiate that the EU is open to a postponement of Brexit. According to planning, it will take place on 29 March.
However, May does not want to know anything about delays. In this she is partly supported by the House of Commons. In another round of voting, an amendment that gave parliament the opportunity to postpone Brexit was voted out by a small minority (321 against 298). In a way, May still has the free hand to look for a solution. Yet she does feel some pressure from her own parliament. A proposal that calls on the government not to withdraw from the EU without an agreement – the so-called Spelman amendment – was supported by more than half of the parliamentarians.
The big question is whether May is now strong enough to tempt the EU into new negotiations. The foreign exchange market seems to know the answer. The British pound dropped by 1% on Tuesday afternoon and evening compared to the euro as it became clearer that it is not yet a postponement of Brexit. The fact that the currency does not fall into free fall is due to May’s promise that it will not turn its back on Europe without an agreement. However, time is now beginning to penetrate. It is therefore important that they come up with a smarter plan than to knock on a closed door with the EU.