European exasperation over the chaos in Brexit talks yesterday descended into profanity and name-calling, as German Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Michael Roth said that the British government consists mostly of clueless boarding-school graduates.
“Brexit is a big shitshow, I say that now very undiplomatically,” Roth said at an event of his Social Democratic Party in Berlin, accusing “90 percent” of the British Cabinet of having “no idea how workers think, live, work and behave.”
Roth said it would not be those British politicians “born with silver spoons in their mouths, who went to private schools and elite universities” who would suffer the consequences of the mess.
“I don’t know if William Shakespeare could have come up with such a tragedy, but who will foot the bill?” the German diplomat said.
His comments came just days after hard-Brexit champion British MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, who attended Eton College, derided a fellow Conservative lawmaker for having graduated from Winchester College, during a crunch debate over the country’s withdrawal from the EU.
The UK is edging closer to a general election after parliament on Friday rejected British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal for a third time, deepening the political crisis that has overtaken the country’s bitter divorce from the EU.
Speaking after the result of the vote was announced in the afternoon, May gave a veiled warning that an election could be necessary to end the stalemate in the British House of Commons, which has failed to back a Brexit plan after months of trying.
“I fear we are reaching the limits of this process in this House,” May told lawmakers following the defeat by 344 votes to 286.
May said the defeat of her strategy had “grave” implications for the country, while the European Commission said an economically damaging no-deal split is now “a likely scenario.”
EU leaders are to meet for an emergency summit on April 10 to seek a way forward.
May has previously said that an election is the last thing the country wants.
Her spokesman would not go that far on Friday, insisting only that a national vote is not in Britain’s best interests.
Privately, officials accept that an election could be necessary, even though May has no appetite for one.
May’s government is to step back while parliament tries to work out a way forward without her next week.
Tomorrow, lawmakers are to have a chance to choose their own preferences in a series of votes on Plan B options. Those are likely to include a full customs union with the EU and another referendum to approve the final deal.
The hope is that this process of narrowing down the options can produce a blueprint that parliament will support.
May’s team suggested that she would try to accommodate the result of the so-called indicative votes. Ultimately, there could be a runoff between May’s proposal and the next most-popular option.
However, time is short.
Under a deal reached with the EU last week, Britain is due to exit the bloc on April 12.
“This is not enough time to agree, legislate for and ratify a deal,” May said. “And yet the House has been clear it will not permit leaving without a deal. And so we will have to agree an alternative way forward.”
The government is to talk to the EU about the terms of another extension to the Brexit deadline. May’s officials aim to put her deal to a fourth vote in parliament in the days ahead.
She received a letter late on Friday signed by 170 Conservatives in the House of Commons — a majority — urging her to stick with the April 12 departure date, according to the Sun, which said that 11 members of her Cabinet were part of the group.
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