GZERO Media logo

A Second Brexit Vote?

A Second Brexit Vote?

Prime Minister Theresa May's victory this week in a confidence vote of Conservative Party MPs has deepened the Brexit stalemate. This makes a second Brexit referendum, once virtually unthinkable, an increasingly plausible possibility.

Here's why:


  • Nothing that happened this week alters the central problem facing the prime minister: There is no single Brexit plan that the EU will offer and the UK's House of Commons will accept. In fact, we learned on Tuesday that the Commons would reject May's EU-approved current plan by "a significant margin."

  • But now that she's survived a no-confidence vote of Conservative Party MPs, critics within her party can't call another such vote for one year. That leaves a deadlocked domestic political situation in the UK in which no clear alternative to May or her Brexit plan can emerge.

  • To secure her reprieve, May promised she would not lead the party into the next election in 2022. As a result, as rivals throw elbows to position themselves as her successor, she'll lose still more of her personal political leverage—just as the job of jamming through her plan becomes most difficult.

  • May is now playing for time. With the March 29 Brexit deadline looming, she's hoping her plan will look more appealing in January if MPs believe the only alternative is a crash-landing without a deal on the future of the UK-EU relationship. But there appear to be enough Brexit hardliners who want a crash exit and enough "remainers" hoping for a second referendum that her strategy won't win enough votes.

  • This reality might lead May toward desperate measures. She could try to push Brexit hardliners toward her plan by threatening them with a second referendum. For now, May says that's off the table, but if she changes her mind and makes this threat explicit, the party rebels can't call another confidence vote.

With no support in parliament and no room for bargaining with Brussels, the only way out is for May to earn a clearer public mandate from UK citizens themselves. That means asking Britain's voters not only whether they want to exit or remain within Europe, but what sort of Brexit they would accept. That means a second referendum.

Here, as in all things Brexit, the devil is in the details. How many questions should be asked? How should these questions be phrased? Conservative and Labour Party leaders will have to agree. And what if the second-vote results are inconclusive?

For now, we leave you with this perfect visual metaphor to capture the current state of Brexit.

Bank of America's $25 million jobs initiative provides Black and Hispanic-Latino individuals access to skills and training needed for jobs of the future. Learn more about the initiative, which involves partnerships with 21 community colleges, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and Hispanic Serving Institutions.

Two weeks ago, Russia secured a deal to build a naval base in Sudan, its first new military facility in Africa since the end of the Cold War. The accord is a major milestone in Moscow's wider push to regain influence, and income, on a continent where the Kremlin was once a major player.

But with the ideological and military contests of the Cold War long over, what is Moscow doing in Africa today?

More Show less

Iran's nuclear tug-of-war: Hardliners in Iran's parliament passed a bill Tuesday suspending UN inspections of its nuclear sites and giving the go-ahead to massively increase uranium enrichment unless the US lifts its sanctions by February. Iranian president Hassan Rouhani opposes the measure, saying it would be "harmful" to diplomatic efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with the incoming Biden administration in the US. But Iran's parliament doesn't actually need Rouhani's approval to pass the law, and regardless, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will have the final say on policy – as always! If the law is passed, it will immediately raise the stakes for Biden, who takes office on January 20. Both he and Rouhani say they are keen to resume dialogue in hopes of reviving the nuclear deal, which President Trump walked out of in 2018. But just days after the architect of Iran's nuclear program was assassinated (likely by Israel with the US' blessing) the hurdles to even beginning those talks are rising fast.

More Show less

"China is angry. If you make China the enemy, China will be the enemy." This was the message recently conveyed by a Chinese government official on the intensifying row with its Asia-Pacific neighbor, Australia.

China-Australia relations, steadily deteriorating in recent months over a range of political disputes, reached a new low this week when Beijing posted a doctored image on Twitter of an Australian soldier holding a knife to an Afghan child's throat. Beijing's decision to post the fake image at a hypersensitive time for Australia's military establishment was a deliberate political provocation: beat Canberra while it's down.

More Show less

19.4: The Lebanese economy, waylaid by financial and political crises on top of the pandemic, is set to contract by a crippling 19.4 percent this year, according to the World Bank. Next year things hardly get better, with a contraction of 13.2 percent coming in 2021.

More Show less
Reasons for Hope: COVID and the Coming Year. Watch on Friday. Dec 4 2020 12 noon - 1 pm ET

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's Newsletter: Signal