Last night, British parliament voted to send Theresa May back to Brussels in the hopes of renegotiating arrangements for the Irish border.
Seven amendments were debated, several of which attempted to stave off the threat of a no-deal Brexit. Labour’s Yvette Cooper tabled the most assertive amendment: legally compelling May to seek an extension of Article 50 should there be no consensus by February 26th. Despite cross-party support, it was defeated by 23 votes.
Only two of the amendments debated yesterday evening passed. One advises the UK not to leave the EU without a deal, but is not legally binding. The other tries to reassure Tory hardliners by urging “alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border” in Ireland.
All signs point to the immense difficulty of returning to the EU with yet more demands. EU president Donald Tusk swiftly reminded British politicians that the Withdrawal Agreement was “not open for renegotiation”, a sentiment echoed by European leaders.
Moreover, whatever Mrs May presents the EU must first be acceptable to her own party’s hardline Brexiteers, the DUP — and the Irish Republic. Like all other EU member-states, Ireland could veto any proposal the British bring forward.
Now, just how flexible can the EU prove?
Credit for this article's header image goes to Getty.