Political turmoil in the United Kingdom following the conclusion of withdrawal agreement and political declaration on post-Brexit relationship

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Publication Date 2018-
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Reports and analyses regarding political turmoil in the United Kingdom following the agreement reached between this country and the European Union on a withdrawal agreement and a political declaration on the post-Brexit relationship between the two sides. It includes the debate and vote by the House of Commons on the withdrawal agreement.

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The British Prime Minister Theresa May faced harsh criticism following the announcement of a deal between the United Kingdom and the European Union on a withdrawal agreement and later on a political declaration on the post-Brexit relationship between the two sides.

Despite the acceptance by her cabinet of the draft agreement, several members of her team later resigned over the content of the deal. Ms May also faced strong criticism from the more Eurosceptic sectors of her own Conservative party. Northern Irish unionists also signalled they would not be able to support the draft agreement in Parliament. Multiple media reports pointed to the possibility of a vote of no-confidence in the House of Commons. Following the official endorsement of the draft agreements by the European Union, Ms May turned her focus to making sure the withdrawal deal would be approved by Parliament in the United Kingdom. However, analysts forecast the document would fail to collect a majority across the chamber.

On 4 December, the UK Government faced further defeats in Parliament, including a vote of contempt which forced the publication of the full legal advice provided by the Attorney General on the withdrawal agreement. Members of Parliament (MPs) also backed calls for the House of Commons to have a direct say in what happens should the agreement be formally rejected.

The UK Government announced on 10 December it would delay the vote at the House of Commons regarding the Withdrawal Agreement due to a lack of parliamentary consenus in favour of it. The Prime Minister also signalled she would go back to the European Union to seek further assurances on the so-called 'Irish backstop', which would keep a seamless border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in a no-deal scenario.

It was announced on 12 December that a number of Conservative members of Parliament had triggered an internal vote of confidence on Theresa May's premiership. The Prime Minister managed to hold on to power with 200 votes against 117. Despite her victory, Ms May announced on 13 December she would not seek to lead the party beyond the end of her mandate.

The parliamentary debate on the withdrawal agreement re-started in early January 2019. An amendment requiring a quick alternative to be brought to Parliament should the draft agreement be rejected was approved by a cross-party majority on 9 January.  The debate was marred by criticism towards the Speaker of the House of Commons, who allowed such vote to take place. Attention also turned to the opposition Labour Party, amid uncertainty over the solutions offered by its leadership to the Brexit process. The so-called 'meaningful vote' was held on 14 January, which resulted in the rejection of the proposed withdrawal agreement by 432-202 votes.

Following the rejection of the withdrawal agreement by the House of Commons, the leader of the Labour Party tabled a motion of no confidence in the government, which was scheduled to be voted on 16 January.

Related Link(s)
Commentary and Analysis
Euro|topics, November 2018: Brexit deal sparks government crisis https://www.eurotopics.net/en/209890/
The Economist, 15.11.18: The beginning of the endgame for Brexit https://www.economist.com/britain/2018/11/15/the-beginning-of-the-endgame-for-brexit
Carnegie Europe: Strategic Europe, 15.11.18: Theresa May’s Worsening Woes https://carnegieeurope.eu/strategiceurope/77718
The Guardian, 04.12.18: What does Dominic Grieve's amendment mean for Brexit? https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/dec/04/what-does-dominic-grieves-amendment-mean-for-brexit
Euro|topics, December 2018: Brexit showdown in House of Commons https://www.eurotopics.net/en/211143/
Euro|topics, December 2018: May wants to save the Brexit deal https://www.eurotopics.net/en/211470/
Open Europe: Blog, 11.12.18: Can the Government secure meaningful reassurances on the backstop? https://openeurope.org.uk/today/blog/can-the-government-secure-meaningful-reassurances-on-the-backstop/
The Economist, 12.12.18: How Theresa May could be ousted as Tory leader https://www.economist.com/the-economist-explains/2018/12/12/how-theresa-may-could-be-ousted-as-tory-leader
The Conversation, 12.12.18: Theresa May survives confidence vote – but her Brexit deal is still in deep trouble https://theconversation.com/theresa-may-survives-confidence-vote-but-her-brexit-deal-is-still-in-deep-trouble-108728
Foreign Policy, 13.12.18: Dead May Walking https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/12/13/dead-may-walking/
Euro|topics, December 2018: Bitter victory for May in no-confidence vote https://www.eurotopics.net/en/211636/
The Economist, 13.12.18: The real lesson from Theresa May’s bruising week https://www.economist.com/leaders/2018/12/13/the-real-lesson-from-theresa-mays-bruising-week
BBC News, 13.12.18: How long can Theresa May survive as PM? https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-46556444
Euro|topics, January 2019: May under pressure from House of Commons https://www.eurotopics.net/en/212778/
The Economist, 10.01.19: Labour’s Brexit cop-out betrays its members https://www.economist.com/leaders/2019/01/10/labours-brexit-cop-out-betrays-its-members
Politico, 10.01.19: Antagonistic House of Commons speaker who changed Brexit https://www.politico.eu/article/john-bercow-mps-champion-or-popinjay-who-could-alter-course-of-brexit/
Open Europe: Blog, 08.01.19: ‘Suspending’ Article 50: What options does the UK have? https://openeurope.org.uk/today/blog/suspending-article-50-what-options-does-the-uk-have/
Institute for Government: Comment, 10.01.19: Brexit’s future is in John Bercow’s hands https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/blog/brexit-future-john-bercow-hands
The UK in a Changing Europe: Analysis, 10.01.19: What MPs really think will happen after a no-deal Brexit http://ukandeu.ac.uk/what-mps-really-think-will-happen-after-a-no-deal-brexit/
Institute for Government: Blog, 15.01.19: After the meaningful vote, what next for Brexit? https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/blog/after-meaningful-vote-what-next-brexit
Deutsche Welle, 16.01.19: Brexit likely to be Britain's greatest disaster https://p.dw.com/p/3Bc9C
Politico, 16.01.19: British politics goes over a cliff https://www.politico.eu/article/british-politics-goes-over-a-cliff-theresa-may-brexit-vote/
Euro|topics, January 2019: Brexit vote in London: tense wait for the No https://www.eurotopics.net/en/212778/
The Conversation, 15.01.19: Theresa May Brexit deal hammered in parliament, but be wary of prospects of a new ‘consensus’ approach https://theconversation.com/theresa-may-brexit-deal-hammered-in-parliament-but-be-wary-of-prospects-of-a-new-consensus-approach-109930
Open Europe: Daily Shakeup, 16.01.19: May’s deal defeated by a majority of 230 https://openeurope.org.uk/daily-shakeup/mays-deal-defeated-by-a-majority-of-230/
Foreign Policy, 15.01.19: The Beginning of the End of Britain’s Brexit Fantasy https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/01/15/the-beginning-of-the-end-of-britain-brexit-fantasy-may-vote/
Institute for Government: Blog, 15.01.19: The historic significance of Theresa May’s defeat https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/blog/historic-significance-theresa-may-defeat

Deutsche Welle, 15.11.18: Theresa May defends draft Brexit deal amid conservative outcry https://p.dw.com/p/38LPh
Deutsche Welle, 15.11.18: UK Brexit minister Dominic Raab and others resign over exit deal https://p.dw.com/p/38H88
Politico, 15.11.18: Theresa May faces hostility on all sides as she fights to save Brexit deal https://www.politico.eu/article/british-prime-minister-theresa-may-faces-hostility-on-all-sides-as-she-fights-to-save-brexit-deal/
Politico, 15.11.18: Theresa May buffeted by resignations over her Brexit deal https://www.politico.eu/article/uk-brexit-secretary-dominic-raab-resigns/
EurActiv, 15.11.18: Theresa May battles to save Brexit deal as ministers quit https://www.euractiv.com/section/future-eu/news/theresa-may-battles-to-save-brexit-deal-as-ministers-quit/
BBC News, 18.11.18: Theresa May: Brexit won't be easier if I'm ousted https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-46250607
The Guardian, 19.11.18: Theresa May defies Tory rebels to press on with Brexit deal https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/nov/18/theresa-may-tory-rebels-brexit-deal-uk-immigration
BBC News, 26.11.18: Brexit: Back my deal or risk more division, May to tell MPs https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-46336772
The Independent, 25.11.18: Jeremy Hunt admits it's 'challenging' to secure MPs' support for May's deal as DUP vow to oppose her https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-deal-latest-jeremy-hunt-dup-theresa-may-eu-commons-support-a8650771.html
The Guardian, 26.11.18: Labour argues for article 50 extension if Brexit deal voted down https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/nov/26/labour-argues-for-article-50-extension-if-brexit-deal-voted-down
BBC News, 05.12.18: Theresa May suffers three Brexit defeats in Commons https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-46446694
EurActiv, 05.12.18: Divided UK braces for once-in-a-lifetime ‘meaningful’ Brexit vote https://www.euractiv.com/section/uk-europe/news/divided-uk-braces-for-once-in-a-lifetime-meaningful-brexit-vote/
Politico, 04.12.18: Theresa May’s day of Brexit losses https://www.politico.eu/article/theresa-may-day-of-brexit-losses-parliament/
The Guardian, 10.12.18: Theresa May postpones Brexit deal vote https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/dec/10/theresa-may-postpones-brexit-deal-meaningful-vote-eu
BBC News, 10.12.18: Theresa May calls off MPs' vote on her Brexit deal https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-46509288
The Scotsman, 10.12.18: Nicola Sturgeon says vote delay is 'pathetic cowardice' https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/brexit-nicola-sturgeon-says-vote-delay-is-pathetic-cowardice-1-4841839
The Economist, 10.12.18: Facing heavy defeat on her Brexit deal, Theresa May delays the vote https://www.economist.com/britain/2018/12/10/facing-heavy-defeat-on-her-brexit-deal-theresa-may-delays-the-vote
BBC News, 12.12.18: Theresa May to face vote of no confidence from Tory MPs https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-46535739
EurActiv, 12.12.18: May’s premiership hangs by a thread ahead of EU summit https://www.euractiv.com/section/uk-europe/news/mays-premiership-hangs-by-a-thread-ahead-of-eu-summit/
Politico, 11.12.18: Theresa May’s Brexit desperation tour https://www.politico.eu/article/theresa-may-brexit-deal-desperation-tour/
The Guardian, 11.12.18: May’s leadership under threat as Tory MPs mobilise against her https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/dec/11/eu-steps-up-plans-for-no-deal-brexit-as-merkel-rebuffs-may
Politico, 13.12.18: Theresa May and Brexiteers lick wounds after leadership clash https://www.politico.eu/article/theresa-may-and-brexiteers-lick-wounds-after-leadership-clash/
The Guardian, 09.01.19: Theresa May suffers Commons defeat over Brexit plan B https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jan/09/mps-force-theresa-may-to-table-plan-b-if-she-loses-brexit-deal-vote
Politico, 09.01.19: Business ‘alarm’ at Brexit impasse, says UK minister https://www.politico.eu/article/greg-clark-brexit-business-alarm-at-brexit-impasse-says-uk-minister/
EurActiv, 15.01.19: May to face confidence vote after Brexit deal suffers crushing defeat https://www.euractiv.com/section/uk-europe/news/may-to-face-confidence-vote-after-brexit-deal-suffers-crushing-defeat/
BBC News, 16.01.19: Theresa May's deal is voted down in historic Commons defeat https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-46885828
The Guardian, 16.01.19: Theresa May suffers historic defeat in vote as Tories turn against her https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jan/15/theresa-may-suffers-historic-defeat-as-tories-turn-against-her
Politico, 16.01.19: Michel Barnier sees high risk of no-deal Brexit https://www.politico.eu/article/michel-barnier-sees-high-risk-of-no-deal-brexit-european-parliament-strasbourg/
Foreign Policy, 15.01.19: A Very British Thrashing https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/01/15/a-very-british-thrashing-may-brexit-vote-fails/
The Economist, 15.01.19: Theresa May loses big over her Brexit deal https://www.economist.com/britain/2019/01/15/theresa-may-loses-big-over-her-brexit-deal

UK Government: PM's Brexit speech in Stoke-on-Trent, 14 January 2019 https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pms-brexit-speech-in-stoke-on-trent-14-january-2019
European Commission: Statement by President Juncker on the outcome of the Meaningful Vote in the United Kingdom House of Commons, 15 January 2019 http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_STATEMENT-19-432_en.htm

ESO Records
Brexit – The United Kingdom and the European Union https://www.europeansources.info/record/brexit-the-united-kingdom-and-the-european-union/

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