By Nze Nwabueze Akabogu
The year 2019 will ever remain a watershed in the annals of modern British history as the House of Commons (Parliament) on 15th January 2019 dealt a devastating blow to the already battered image and political career of Prime Minister Theresa May when the Parliament overwhelmingly rejected her controversial Brexit deal with the European Union. Theresa May's crushing defeat was indeed unprecedented in modern British history as four hundred and thirty two (432) MPs voted against the unpopular deal while two hundred and two (202) MPs voted in favour of the Brexit deal tagged the “ Chequers deal”, a clear majority of Two hundred and thirty (230) votes that rejected the deal. Theresa May's monumental loss in parliament made her to be regarded as the most unpopular Prime Minister in recent times hence, never in the contemporary British history, an incumbent Prime Minister had suffered such a crushing and humiliating defeat in Parliament.
In the British age long cherished tradition, the path of honour would have forced Theresa May to instantly relinquish her Premiership position. However, May has remained defiant insisting that her replacement at this critical moment of uncertainty would never bring about any meaningful solution to the current Brexit debacle in the country.
The opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn promptly took advantage of the extremely vulnerable and precarious position of Prime Minister May and seized the opportunity by instantly tabling a motion of no confidence in the Conservative government, with a view to forcing the government to resign and a snap election to follow subsequently. Although the no confidence motion was later defeated by a slim majority in Parliament, never-the-less Prime Minister May will remain a weak and lame duck leader incapable of exercising her full authority over her cabinet and by implication the British nation at large.
As the deadline for the British final exit from the E.U on 29th March 2019 is fast approaching, the prospect of “No deal” or “crash-out” scenario looms high in the horizon and the British Parliament has little or no time left to fashion out a viable alternative to May's “dead” deal even as the European leaders in Brussels seem not to be favourably disposed to any new deal yet to be proposed by the British Parliament.
The British people apparently had been caught up in the web of the current political quagmire and turmoil occasioned by the unimaginative and shortsightedness of the political elites who had unwittingly mortgaged the future of generations yet unborn and their well being on the altar of political expediency.
In the meantime however, the embattled Prime Minister May, has called for cross party consensus on a new deal to be presented to parliament on 29th January 2019. The opposition Labour Party leader Corbyn had outrightly rejected the move on the ground that there was no meeting point with the Conservative government on the proposed deal. Corbyn had maintained that Prime Minister May lacked both political and moral authority to call for consensus Brexit deal in Parliament.
Meanwhile, the European leaders in Brussels are watching with keen interest as the unfolding political drama at Westminster continues to play out even as they had already ruled out the possibility of re-opening the Brexit deal earlier approved by the European Union sometime in October 2018. Some members of the E.U notably France which had already drawn up her contingency plans to mitigate any negative impact on her economy as the possibility of “no deal” scenario appears imminent. It has become a ding-dong situation as the British people unfortunately had found themselves in a terrible dilemma and prolonged uncertainty.
On the economic front, there seem to be enormous Capital flight out of Britain by E.U Companies operating in the U.K citing political uncertainty for their re-location to other European countries with the grave consequences of loss of thousands of jobs thereby further compounding the unemployment situation in the British economy.
As at press time, the cross party talks called by May had ended in a deadlock as the parties failed to agree on the modalities or modus operandi for a new deal that could possibly receive the approval of Parliament on 29th January 2019.
Meanwhile, time is already running out for Britain to leave the E.U in March 2019 in an orderly fashion; which has given credence to the possibility of “no deal” scenario or Britain simply crashing out of the E.U.
It is pertinent to note however, that the present predicament and uncertainty in which Britain had found herself could be attributed to the myopic and shortsightedness of her political leaders who obviously had misled the British people on the immediate and long term consequences of leaving the European Union. It was indeed a grievous misjudgment and gamble on the part of the British political leaders for which the British people are bound to pay dearly in the months and years ahead. The current political tsunami in Britain was obviously self inflicted and an unmitigated disaster on the part of the British political gladiators and their cohorts who had wittingly misled the British people to erroneously believe that the E.U was simply anti-British interest which undermined her cherished values, freedom and democracy.
The prolonged Brexit debate and uncertainty had further polarized the British public and the immediate solution to the impasse appears not in sight as the clock is fast ticking to herald the eventual departure of the U.K from the E.U on 29th March 2019.
The possibility of a second referendum which the British people across the political spectrum had called for appears no longer a serious consideration even as the proponents of the idea could not sway the British public opinion in favour of a second referendum. Prime Minister May on her part had since ruled out any such idea of a second referendum to ascertain yet again the true wishes of the British people on the Brexit saga, insisting that Britons had already unequivocally expressed their wishes during the 2016 referendum.
With the benefit of hindsight however, the British people would have been better off should they have decided to remain in the E.U and continued to press for radical reforms within the Union and which would have served the collective interest of member states who had themselves expressed certain misgivings about certain laws under the statutes governing the affairs of the European Union. Simply opting out of the Sixty one years old European Union by the British therefore, was indeed a grievous misadventure which ought to have been averted in the overall interest of the British people.
Nze Nwabueze Akabogu (JP) is a Regular Public Affairs Commentator and Analyst.
He wrote from Enugwu-Ukwu, Anambra State.