May's Plan B for Brexit is Plan A again

Pedro Gonçalves
May's Plan B for Brexit is Plan A again

After a historical defeat in UK politics, Theresa May had three days to come up with an alternative plan for Brexit. However, prime minister Theresa May's plan B is to try to get her plan A through the Commons with some tweaks on the Irish backstop.

May offered that the controversial registration fee for EU citizens living in the UK and wanting to remain after Brexit would be waived. The prime minister added  she would return to Brussels to try to renegotiate the contentious Northern Ireland backstop, which Brexiteers want to be stripped out of the withdrawal agreement.

However, on the key issues MPs are more critical - ruling out a no deal Brexit, which many fear would hurt the UK economy, and allowing a second referendum - May said her government would not allow either move.

"Nothing has changed. No progress on what Brexit means."

As MPs expected a complete overhaul of what was previously rejected, the stage for another battle in Parliament over Brexit seems to be set.

Labour MP Stella Creasy said this afternoon: "Nothing has changed. No progress on what Brexit means."

And veteran MP Hillary Benn blasted her for failing to listen to what opposition politicians wanted, saying: "While her door may have been open, her mind remains closed."

Europe was also not convinced on a tweaked plan A.  Dublin delivered a firm "No" to Downing Street's latest bid to go back to Brussels and ask for concessions on the backstop.

And the vice-president of the European Parliament also flatly rejected two other ideas that were considered as ways of defusing the Brexit deal: one being to remove the backstop from the EU agreement and replace it with an Anglo-Irish treaty; the other being to rewrite the Good Friday agreement that underpins the peace process. May has officialy rejected making any adjustments to the Good Friday agreement.

She warned MPs that she could not rule out the possibility of leaving the European Union without any agreement, even though preventing that outcome is probably the one thing that a healthy majority in Parliament can agree on as a course of action.

She also said she did not believe there was a majority in Parliament for a second referendum that could reverse the whole process of withdrawal, as Labour is pushing.

In the meantime, the EU has confirmed it will enforce a hard border on the island of Ireland in the event of a no-deal Brexit, despite the risk it would pose to peace.