British lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to reject Theresa May’s Brexit agreement on Tuesday, complicating UK’s departure from the European Union on March 29.
Legislators in parliament’s lower House of Commons voted 432 to 202 to reject the deal, giving May a crushing defeat with a 230-margin.
“The House has spoken, and the government will listen,” May said following the vote, even as she predicted “more uncertainty, more bitterness and more rancor”.
The vote plunges the already divided country deeper into turmoil as it tries to solve several key issues in the Brexit process.
Opposition Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn called it “the greatest defeat” for a British government since the 1920s.
“This is a catastrophic defeat for this government,” he said, as he called for a no-confidence vote against May’s government.
Al Jazeera’s Laurence Lee, reporting from London, said that with May’s defeat, a no-confidence vote is expected on Wednesday night.
May survived a no-confidence vote in December brought by her ruling Conservative Party.
In her final plea to the parliament, May said that a vote against the deal “is nothing more than uncertainty, division and the very real risk of ‘No Deal’ or ‘No Brexit’ at all”.
“We can choose unity over division,” May said before the vote. “I believe that we have a duty to deliver on that referendum vote. And to do so in a way that protects people’s jobs, and protects our security, and protects our union.”
With MPs disagreeing with the deal, the country could face a so-called “no deal” Brexit that critics claim will be economically disastrous, another referendum, either on Brexit terms or whether to leave the EU at all.
May, who now has three days to bring a revised plan back to parliament, will now most likely seek concessions from the EU, then put her deal to parliament a second time.
However, the EU has said it will not negotiate the deal again.
Uncertainty and ‘Brexit paralysis’ fears in UK as deadline looms
With the margin of her defeat, it is is more unlikely that EU would give May more concessions, Al Jazeera’s David Chater, reporting from Brussels, said.
“There may be little Theresa May can discuss with the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.”
In a statement following May’s defeat, Juncker said he “regretted” the vote.
“The risk of disorderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom has increased with this evening’s vote,” Juncker said.
Tuesday’s vote was initially scheduled to be held on December 11 but was postponed by May when it became clear she faced certain defeat.
Last week, May warned British lawmakers that if the plan was rejected, a catastrophe would follow.
“Doing so would be a catastrophic and unforgivable breach of trust in our democracy,” she wrote.
The UK is poised to leave the EU on March 29, two years after it triggered Article 50, the exit clause in the EU’s constitution, and kick-started arduous negotiations with European leaders over a divorce deal.
However, since reaching a deal in November, the agreement has come under fire from across the political spectrum, with opponents of the EU seeking a cleaner break and pro-European legislators pressing for a second vote on membership in the bloc.
A second referendum, however, has been opposed by both May and main opposition leader Corbyn.
What next for Brexit?
Here are the three main scenarios facing Britain while the clock ticks down to March 29, 2019 – the day it is scheduled to depart the EU after 46 years:
Try again: The British government and EU leaders say their agreement is the best compromise available, and despite her historic defeat, May said on Tuesday it remained the only option.
Members of her Conservative party say the deal keeps Britain too close to the EU, while opposition parties say fails to protect economic ties with the bloc.
Both sides also hate a plan to keep open the Irish border, the so-called backstop, which could see Britain indefinitely follow European rules on trade.
There is nothing to stop the government bringing back the same deal again and again to the House of Commons until either MPs accept it, or seek to oust May, who faces a no confidence vote on Wednesday called by the opposition Labour Party.
No deal: This is billed as the doomsday scenario that threatens to trigger a recession in Britain and markedly slow the EU’s economic growth.
It is the default option if the British parliament votes against the deal and there are no other solutions before March 29.
May’s agreement was meant to keep trade rules between the world’s fifth-biggest economy and its largest export market almost unchanged for a transition period running to the end of 2020.
Second referendum: EU supporters have been calling for another vote ever since the ‘Leave’ campaign won the 2016 referendum, and demands have stepped up in recent months.
There is no law keeping Britain from doing it all over again, but many question whether this would be democratic.
It also threatens to be just as divisive, with opinion polls showing the country is still split over the issue.
May has warned another vote “would do irreparable damage to the integrity of our politics”.
Kuwait Times September 27, 2021
Daily E- Paper – Kuwait Times Click above icon to download full news paper The post Kuwait Times September 27, 2021 appeared first on Kuwait Times.
MP says exiled activists will be pardoned soon
The National AssemblyBy B Izzak KUWAIT: MP Mohannad Al-Sayer said yesterday he believes that a decision to pardon a number of opposition ex-MPs and activists – who have been living abroad for several years – will be issued soon. “We will be pleased shortly with the return of our brothers who are living abroad,” Sayer…
The National AssemblyBy B Izzak
KUWAIT: MP Mohannad Al-Sayer said yesterday he believes that a decision to pardon a number of opposition ex-MPs and activists – who have been living abroad for several years – will be issued soon. “We will be pleased shortly with the return of our brothers who are living abroad,” Sayer said in reference to around a dozen opposition figures who have been living in self-exile for over three years in Turkey.
The opposition figures left the country in the summer of 2018 to escape harsh jail terms issued by the state’s highest court, which convicted them of taking part in storming the National Assembly building during an anti-corruption protest in Nov 2011. Sayer said opposition lawmakers support any initiative for cooperation on this issue and reject politicizing it.
The opposition has been pressing to pass legislation in the Assembly that would issue a general pardon to the exiles and other prisoners jailed on political and freedom of expression charges. But their attempt has so far been unsuccessful and efforts are currently underway to secure a decree by HH the Amir to pardon them.
Last week, nine of the exiled figures issued a statement in which they criticized the failed efforts of the opposition MPs and accepted a reported initiative to pardon them as part of a dialogue for national reconciliation. Former MP Faisal Al-Mislem, one of the exiles, wrote on Twitter yesterday that if no pardon is issued, then opposition MPs must submit the general pardon legislation in the first session of the Assembly’s new term in late October.
Meanwhile, MP Abdulkarim Al-Kandari yesterday submitted a draft law calling to set up a new agency to track down and recover public funds that had been stolen and deposited in special accounts abroad or invested in projects. The bill proposes the agency should be chaired by a senior judge.
The agency will follow verdicts issued by Kuwaiti or foreign courts regarding public funds and then work to bring them back. The lawmaker said public funds have been the target of theft and embezzlement for many years, and charged that the government has not paid attention to recover such funds, which necessitates the establishment of a special agency.
Iceland almost gets female-majority parliament
Iceland briefly celebrated electing a female-majority parliament on Sunday, before a recount showed there will still be more men than women in the chamber, state broadcaster RUV reported. The initial vote count had female candidates winning 33 seats in Iceland’s 63-seat parliament, the Althing, in an election that saw centrist parties make the biggest gains.…
Iceland briefly celebrated electing a female-majority parliament on Sunday, before a recount showed there will still be more men than women in the chamber, state broadcaster RUV reported.
The initial vote count had female candidates winning 33 seats in Iceland’s 63-seat parliament, the Althing, in an election that saw centrist parties make the biggest gains.
Hours later, a recount in northwestern Iceland changed the outcome, leaving female candidates with 30 seats, a tally previously reached at Iceland’s second-most recent election, in 2016.
Still, at almost 48 percent of the total, that is the highest percentage for women legislators in Europe. On the continent, Sweden and Finland have 47 percent and 46 percent women’s representation in parliament, respectively.
According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Rwanda leads the world with women making up 61 percent of its Chamber of Deputies, with Cuba, Nicaragua and Mexico on or just over the 50 percent mark. Worldwide, the organisation says just over a quarter of legislators are women.
Iceland, a North Atlantic island of 371,000 people, was ranked the most gender-equal country in the world for the 12th year running in a World Economic Forum (WEF) report released in March.
“The female victory remains the big story of these elections,” politics professor Olafur Hardarson told RUV after the recount.
Iceland’s Finance Minister, leader and top candidate of the Icelandic Independence Party Bjarni Benediktsson (left) and party delegates react to the results being shown on a monitor in Iceland’s capital Reykjavik, on September 25, 2021, during the country’s parliamentary elections to elect members of the Althing [Halldor Kolbeins/ AFP]Iceland’s voting system is divided into six regions and the recount in western Iceland was held following a tight contest in the northwest constituency, according to Ingi Tryggvason, the head of the electoral commission there.
“We decided to hold a recount because the result was so close,” Tryggvason told the AFP news agency, adding that no one had requested the recount.
The move did not affect the overall election result.
The three parties in the outgoing coalition government led by Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir won a total of 37 seats in Saturday’s vote, two more than in the last election.
The coalition has brought Iceland four years of stability after 10 years of political crises, but Jakobsdottir’s Left-Green Movement emerged weakened after losing ground to its right-wing partners, which both posted strong showings.
The Left-Green Movement won only eight seats, three fewer than in 2017, raising questions about Jakobsdottir’s future as prime minister.
The centre-right Independence Party took the largest share of votes, winning 16 seats, seven of them held by women. The centrist Progressive Party celebrated the biggest gain, winning 13 seats, five more than last time.
The three parties have not announced whether they will work together for another term, but given the strong support from voters, it appears likely. It will take days, if not weeks, for a new government to be formed and announced.
Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir and top candidate of the Left-Green Movement casts a ballot at a polling station in Iceland’s capital Reykjavik on September 25, 2021 [Halldor Kolbeins/ AFP]Speaking to private broadcaster Stod 2 on Sunday, Jakobsdottir refused to be drawn on the coalition’s future discussions, saying only that her government had received “remarkable” support in the election.
Progressive Party leader Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson and Independence Party leader Bjarni Benediktsson said they were open to discussing a continuation of the coalition.
Benediktsson told Stod 2 it was “normal for parties that have worked together for four years and had good personal relations” to try to continue together.
But he told public broadcaster RUV he was not sure they would succeed.
He also said he would “not demand” the post of prime minister.
The unusual coalition mixing left and right came about in a bid to bring stability after years of political upheaval.
Deep public distrust of politicians amid repeated scandals sent Icelanders to the polls five times between 2007 and 2017.
This is the first time since 2003 that a government has retained its majority.
Climate change had ranked high on the election agenda in Iceland due to an exceptionally warm summer by Icelandic standards – with 59 days of temperatures above 20C (68F) – and shrinking glaciers.
But that did not appear to have translated into increased support for any of the four left-leaning parties that campaigned to cut carbon emissions by more than Iceland is committed to under the Paris Climate Agreement.
One candidate who saw her victory overturned by the recount was law student Lenya Run Karim, a 21-year-old daughter of Kurdish immigrants who ran for the anti-establishment Pirate Party.
“These were a good nine hours,” said Karim, who would have been Iceland’s youngest-ever legislator.