Britain on course to become a 'failed state', says UK MEP

Written by Martin Banks on 4 September 2019 in News
News

The stark warning comes after the British House of Commons voted late on Tuesday in favour of debating a motion to take no-deal Brexit off the table and asking the EU for an extension.

Boris Johnson  | Photo credit: Press Association


UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has declared he will call a general election if the motion passes, although the Labour opposition says it will not support this unless a no-deal scenario is first removed.

Sponsored by Labour MP Hilary Benn and backed by a number of defectors from Johnson’s Conservative party such as Oliver Letwin, the motion sailed through the Commons with a vote of 328 to 301 on Tuesday evening.

“Let there be no doubt about the consequences,” Johnson told the MPs after the result was announced, accusing the Parliament of being “on the brink of wrecking any deal” with Brussels by taking the possibility of unilateral Brexit off the table.


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He said the MPs' bill would "hand control" of Brexit negotiations to the EU and bring "more dither, more delay, more confusion". He also told MPs he had no choice but to press ahead with efforts to call an October election, adding, "The people of this country will have to choose."

MPs will now vote on the Brexit delay bill on Wednesday. If it passes, the vote on whether to hold an election will follow with a possible date being 14 October.

Turning to Brussels, there will be a meeting of Parliament’s Brexit Steering Group on Wednesday evening and there will be a statement afterwards.

"If we continue on this trajectory we are on a path to becoming a failed state in Europe. But no deal is not a done deal. We can still stop Brexit" Gina Dowding MEP

This website canvassed opinion on the latest Brexit impasse from several UK MEPs, including Gina Dowding, Green MEP for the North West of England.

She said, "If we continue on this trajectory we are on a path to becoming a failed state in Europe. But no deal is not a done deal. We can still stop Brexit.”

Liberal Democrat member Chris Davies said, "It's hard to believe that the UK was until quite recently regarded as a serious player in European negotiations. It seems our function now is simply to amaze our EU colleagues at how low we can sink."

The SNP’s Alyn Smith also told this website, "It has been clear for months and years that Brexit actually has little to do with the EU or the UK’s relationship with the EU, it is an entirely domestic affair, and entirely English too."

"Scotland isn't the problem, Brussels isn't the problem, Dublin isn't the problem; the problem is an archaic constitution which has been overrun, hopefully temporarily, by philistines who are trashing the UK’s constitution."

"The SNP position is clear; Scotland voted for Europe and we want to remain. The exact route to make that happen is not clear at present but we will work with colleagues across the parties to make it happen and bring some sense to this."

Socialist MEP Claude Moraes told The Parliament Magazine, “All the actual evidence shows that Johnson is putting into operation a Brexit general election strategy in steps crafted by Dominic Cummings and an idelogically-entrenched No.10 team which requires him to blame principally Labour, the EU and remainer rebels for ‘forcing his hand’."

"In an all-knowing media age his plan has become very transparent and it is critical for my party, the Labour Party and the anti-no deal alliance in Parliament not to fall into the trap of granting PM Johnson an election at his advantageous time of choosing without cast iron guarantees on ‘no deal’."

"It's hard to believe that the UK was until quite recently regarded as a serious player in European negotiations. It seems our function now is simply to amaze our EU colleagues at how low we can sink" Chris Davies MEP

"Labour, in particular, has to show leadership in preserving parliamentary democracy, stopping no deal and denying Johnson his choice of Brexit election which will further divide the UK. The coming hours are truly critical,” he added.

Richard Corbett, another Labour member, warned a no deal would damage the health service and pointed out that no new proposals have been forthcoming from the UK side to tackle the Irish backstop issue.

However, the Brexit Party's Rupert Lowe told this site, “Make no mistake, the political class in this country are working towards a second referendum. They hate everything about Brexit and will stop at nothing to see it thwarted."

"We have a Parliament stuffed full of Remainers. The only way to get a clean break Brexit is to get a Brexiteer majority. Let's hope Boris will put country before party and work with Nigel and the Brexit Party in order to achieve this."

Denis MacShane, a former Europe Minister in the UK, said, “Johnson is plunging the UK into an unprecedented political crisis because, while he has many qualities, the art of compromise and respect or affection for the House of Commons is not one of them."

"Even in the unlikely event of winning a general election - the third in 4 years - the position of the EU27 on Ireland and not changing EU Treaty law to appease the Farage faction in the UK cabinet would not change. Mr Johnson apparently studied Greek and the classics at Oxford. He must have skipped the tutorial on Hubris.”

Tuesday’s rebellion was led by Sir Oliver Letwin, who co-sponsored the motion with Benn, and backed by a number of prominent former cabinet ministers, such as Phillip Hammond (Exchequer), Greg Clark (Business), David Gauke (Justice), and Justine Greening (Education).

"Scotland isn't the problem, Brussels isn't the problem, Dublin isn't the problem, the problem is an archaic constitution which has been overrun, hopefully temporarily, by philistines who are trashing the UK’s  constitution" Alyn Smith MEP

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the bill needed to be passed to take the no-deal option completely "off the table" before his party would support the call for a general election.

Under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, a Prime Minister must have the backing of at least two-thirds of MPs before a general election can be called outside of the fixed five-year terms.

Downing Street said the 21 Tory MPs who rebelled in Tuesday's vote would have the whip removed.

Johnson has pushed for the possibility of a no-deal Brexit ever since becoming Prime Minister in July, replacing Theresa May who resigned over her inability to deliver on a negotiated withdrawal.

Yet he has faced a rebellion within the Tory ranks that on Tuesday eliminated his one-MP majority.

The deadline given by Brussels for Britain’s departure from the EU was October 31, with a deal or without. If Benn and Letwin’s motion is approved, that would be extended to January 31.

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at The Parliament Magazine

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