13 Mar 2019
Theresa May loses second meaningful vote by margin of 149
Following a frenetic end to the negotiations between the UK and the EU which resulted in a new compromise on the contentious Irish backstop proposal, UK PM Theresa May, lost the second meaningful vote on her Brexit deal in the House of Commons yesterday evening. The margin was 391 to 242, a defeat of 149.
The overall numbers compare a little more favourably with the calamitous margin of 230 in January but last night’s events nonetheless represent a categorical rejection of the deal which leaves the nature of the UK’s future relationship with the EU very unclear. After last night’s vote Mrs. May indicated that the House will vote on whether the Commons will accept leaving the EU without a deal. It will be a free vote and the PM hinted last night said that she would vote against ‘no deal’. If rejected by the House, as most expect, a vote on applying for an Article 50 extension will take place tomorrow evening. The EU has indicated that it will only grant such an extension if the government demonstrates a clear reason for such a request.
The important questions now are what happens tonight and tomorrow’s votes and the broader direction of the Brexit debate. Mrs. May might decide to try and press on with a new version of the existing deal but the EU appears to have moved as far as it is going to on the backstop. So winning yet another ‘meaningful vote’ would probably require a sudden change of mind among a large number of Tory dissenters (overturning a defeat of 149 is a tough ask). There does not seem to be any specific proposal which can gain the confidence of the House. Unless various groups of MPs become more willing to compromise it is difficult to map out a way forward. In the current climate, this looks unlikely.
Overnight Brexit developments
There are relatively few new concrete thoughts after last night’s vote. The various media this morning are very mixed about the likely way forward, with concurrent talk of a third meaningful vote; an alternative cross party motion on a different form of deal; the PM being asked to resign; a second referendum; a General Election; and of course much talk of an extension to the UK’s EU membership. Earlier this morning the government stated that it would eliminate a number of tariffs on imports in a no-deal situation – there is little granularity so far, but there are no plans to levy any tariffs on imports to Northern Ireland from the Republic.
Irish banks: New CEO appointed at KBC Bank Ireland
KBC Bank Ireland, the Irish subsidiary of Belgian bancassurer KBC Groep, yesterday announced the appointment of Peter Roebben as its new CEO.
Mr Roebben will replace Wim Verbraeken, who has been head of KBC’s Irish operations since November 2013, and who will now return to KBC’s Belgian operations. Mr Roebben is currently a senior general manager within KBC’s Group Credit Risk department, and has worked across numerous departments within the group since joining it in 1992. In 2017 KBC committed to retaining and expanding its operations in Ireland after suffering significant losses during the Irish economic crisis.
Its offering in Ireland is focused around a challenger-style digital ‘branchless’ banking, insurance and investment product offering.