The defection of a group of pro-European MP’s has had a chastening effect on Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Previously unwilling to back a fresh vote on leaving the EU, Corbyn has now accepted that a second referendum is a genuine option.
First though, Labour will attempt to win an amendment in Parliament that would allow for the UK to leave, but under terms radically different than those being pushed by Tory leader Theresa May.
The Labour amendment, which will be voted on overnight, reads as follows:
That this house instructs ministers
(a) to negotiate with the EU for changes to the political declaration to secure:
i. A permanent and comprehensive customs union with the EU;
ii. Close alignment with the single market underpinned by shared institutions and obligations;
iii. Dynamic alignment on rights and protections;
iv. Commitments on participation in EU agencies and funding programmes, including in areas such as the environment, education, and industrial regulation; and
v. Unambiguous agreement on the detail of future security arrangements, including access to the European Arrest Warrant and vital shared databases;
(b) To introduce primary legislation to give statutory effect to this negotiating mandate
If the amendment fails to get majority support, Labour have indicated that they will then switch to backing the ‘People’s Vote’ campaign in some form or other. Mind you, they’re not too specific about this bit.
Meanwhile European council leader Donald Tusk has said that if Britain wants to delay Brexit that would be a “rational solution”.
Tusk says the EU would show “understanding”.
So the state of play now is that Theresa May’s strategy of winding down the clock until Parliament is forced to either endorse her muddled plan or accept a NO Deal hard Brexit is under real pressure.
May might now decide that requesting an extension to the March 29 Brexit deadline and calling a snap election is the simplest solution.
However, she’ll want to see how the polls are affected by Corbyn’s about face first.
May will be hoping there is a significant anti-Labour backlash in pro-Leave parts of the country.
While that’s possible, it’s far more likely that the mood of the country now is to end the whole sorry saga, even if that means that the UK will remain in Europe.