Britain is now a step closer to leaving the 27-nation European Union — after 45 long years. European Union leaders have approved a historic deal with British Prime Minister Theresa May for Britain’s ‘smooth’ exit from the EU on March 29, 2019. The only hindrance left for the divorce to come into effect is a nod by the British and European parliaments. The 585-page withdrawal agreement — happening on Sunday after 18 months of gruelling negotiations — covers financial matters, citizens’ rights, provisions to keep open Britain’s border with Ireland and arrangements for a 21-month post-Brexit transition phase.
While European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker calls it ‘no time for champagne’ — and other EU leaders mourning the ‘tragic’ deal — British Prime Minister Theresa May is void of regrets and is ‘full of optimism about the [UK’s] future.’ May warns rebellious MPs in London that ‘this is the best and only option available,’ fearing that eurosceptic Conservatives and their Northern Irish allies are all set to throw a spanner in the works as they believe the deal keeps Britain too close to the EU.
Should, then, there have been a Plan B? No — if EU officials, in general, are to believe. They think that the only Plan B was preparing a possible no-deal scenario in which Britain crashes out on March 29 into legal limbo, roiling Europe’s economy. Then, what if the deal fails to get the seal of approval from British MPs? Here are the several scenarios as quoted by Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, “If [British] parliament blocks the package: Britons would hold a second referendum; hold a new election to replace May or return to Brussels to try and renegotiate the package.”
Published in The Express Tribune, November 27th, 2018.