The Straits Times says

Brexit vote: MPs must put nation first

If there is a consensus among all actors in the Brexit drama, it is that Britain's headlong departure from the European Union on March 29 is undesirable. That convergence of opinions provides the best chance for resolving the snowballing impasse that would otherwise result in a no-deal Brexit. A vote on Tuesday gave Prime Minister Theresa May the backing from MPs to renegotiate the withdrawal treaty with Brussels. In particular, she seeks to redo the backstop. With this, she intends to appease eurosceptic members of her Conservative Party opposed to her deal on the grounds that Britain loses its right to formulate a sovereign trading policy if it agrees to the backstop. The mechanism is meant to prevent the imposition of post-Brexit checkpoints at the only land border between the United Kingdom and the EU. Checkpoints, it is feared, will disrupt the flow of goods along the Irish border and revive memories of the Troubles, thus also undermining two decades of peace since the Good Friday accords.

It is unclear what "alternative arrangements" can replace the backstop. But Mrs May hinted at seeking a time limit or a "get out" clause to allow the UK to withdraw unilaterally from the backstop. Technological approaches - for instance, using drones to inspect trucks that cross the border - have also been talked about. This is perplexing: The EU already clarified that the backstop is temporary and technology that can replace checkpoints is not immediately serviceable. Yet, Mrs May's contention is that a majority will coalesce around her deal if the backstop were tackled.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 02, 2019, with the headline 'Brexit vote: MPs must put nation first The Straits Times says'. Print Edition | Subscribe