Time for Brexit Plan B

10 December 2018

Speaking in reaction to the latest developments in the UK, leader of the Labour Party, Brendan Howlin TD said that the way is now open for a People’s Vote with the option to the remain in the EU.

Deputy Howlin said:

“It is becoming clearer every day that the UK Parliament cannot resolve the Brexit conundrum facing Prime Minister Theresa May. The House of Commons will almost certainly vote against the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement by a large margin, and the apparent decision to postpone that vote is an admission of that reality.

“We have supported the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement because it provides legal guarantees that the Irish border will remain open. But it has always been our position that the Withdrawal Agreement, and the likely close future relationship that it signals, is the least worst outcome for Ireland. Any Brexit is bad for Ireland.

“Ireland and the EU need to stand ready with a Plan B for when it is confirmed that Theresa May cannot secure parliamentary support for the Withdrawal Agreement. But this does not mean re-opening the deal, as that would cause more problems than it would solve.

“Plan B should be for the EU to offer some practical concessions to the UK in the event that a second referendum is held. Ireland secured legal guarantees in a similar way when EU Treaties were rejected here through referendums, and there is no reason why the UK should not be offered real concessions.

“The deal that was offered to David Cameron should be offered again in full, and better explained. The UK were offered an opt-out from ever closer political integration and the creation of a new veto mechanism for national parliaments to slow Commission proposals. It allowed the UK to limit access to social welfare by EU migrants and to apply a ‘brake’ on EU migration for seven years. The UK already had an opt-out for its own currency, and their exemption from aspects of economic and monetary union was reaffirmed.

“Further, the option to remain in the EU should come with guarantees that internal migration will be controlled more strictly, consistent with respecting the core principle that workers can move to other EU states when work is genuinely available. Other EU countries have created much stricter migration rules within the framework of European law, and a Plan B as outlined here could give the UK what it needs to do the same.

“It is clear that momentum is growing in the UK for a second referendum, including within UK Labour. The EU should now do what it can to demonstrate that the EU does listen and respond when the people in a member state express their concern.

“Labour calls on the Government and EU to begin work now on such a Plan B, to offer the British people an attractive option for a second referendum, where our hope would be that they would vote to remain in a European Union that demonstrated responsiveness to their sincere concerns.”


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