Today, MPs in the House of Commons are debating and will be voting on a series of 'Indicative Votes' (similar to the ones they voted on last week). Among these are debates about possible softer versions of Brexit, such as a 'Common Market 2.0'.
However, surely Parliament is missing something here? Discussions about hard vs soft Brexit or a Common Market 2.0 relate to the UK's future trading relationship with the EU. However, the Brexit negotiations with the EU have not even reached that stage yet. Currently, the only thing that has been negotiated is a 'Withdrawal Agreement', which lays out the conditions of the UK's withdrawal from the Union. Trade negotiations will come afterwards.
So, surely it is entirely pointless to be debating and voting on what trade arrangement the UK wants, when they haven't even reached that stage of negotiations?
The EU has made their position clear that, regardless of what sort of trade agreement ends up being made, the UK will still have to accept the terms of the WA, before trade negotiations can begin. So, even if the UK Parliament votes in favor of a 'Common Market 2.0', they will still have to accept and sign the Withdrawal agreement (aka Theresa May's deal), that is being pushed by the EU.
So, is it not the case that many of these 'alternative' Brexit plans are not in fact alternatives at all, since May's deal will still have to be signed?
It seems to me that the choices facing the UK are as follows:
- Accept the Withdrawal agreement that the EU wants and move on to trade negotiations.
- Leave with no deal (hard Brexit).
- Revoke article 50 (i.e. no Brexit).
- Push the EU to change the Withdrawal agreement (although the EU has absolutely ruled this out).
What is the point in debating anything else right now?