On March 12, the British Parliament overwhelmingly rejected - for a second time - a Brexit plan worked out by Prime Minister Theresa May.
A day later, the lawmakers voted against a "hard Brexit" - one without any approved plan.
Then, on March 14, British lawmakers voted 412 to 202 to delay an exit from the European Union, which had been planned for March 29. They also voted not to call a second referendum to allow the British people to accept or reject Prime Minister May's Brexit plan.
Britain’s opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn in Parliament on March 14, 2019. Corbyn called for the Brexit referendum in 2016 – expecting it to fail. Reuters TV via REUTERS
Three experts on the European Union consider the lasting effects of the delay and uncertainty.
A damaging spectacle
Garret Martin, American University, School of International Service
Another week of drama at the Palace of Westminster, host of the United Kingdom’s two houses of Parliament. The last three days witnessed a flurry of Brexit activities. Parliament scheduled multiple votes, debates, amendments. Factions inside Westminster jockeyed for control and Ministers resigned. And Prime Minister Theresa May literally lost her voice.
In other words, no one knows when the Brexit saga will end.
There’s no denying that Brexit, with its intrigue and uncertainty, is compelling viewing. Political junkies may think of it as “Game of Thrones” without the dragons and violence. That day-to-day focus can, however, easily obscure the fact that Brexit has been a complete calamity, one for which the U.K. is already paying high costs, and will continue to do so.
Here’s a comparison. When Scots were asked to vote on independence from Britain in 2014, the Scottish government offered them a 649-page policy document on everything from post-independence fisheries management to the status of the queen.
But when British voters were invited to vote on Brexit, they were offered nowhere near as much information. There was no specification of what leaving would mean, how it would work or what the costs might be. Into the vacuum of information rushed misperception and lies.
Competing demands from different groups to deliver the impossible have damaged the UK’s political system. That’s because, for many politicians, the politics of Brexit are now about avoiding the blame for the consequences of a damaging decision.
The problem with the politics of casting and avoiding blame is that finger-pointing and dodging finger-pointing can get in the way of solving problems. Brexit is a clear case of that.
The politics of the UK are now focused not on managing or fixing problems, but on blaming others for them. The focus on blaming others for divisive and dangerous Brexit policies will scar Britain for decades, since the politics of disunity and blame will live long after 2019.
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