It’s beginning to sound disingenuous when we say it has been another dramatic day in Parliament and the whole Brexit process. We have been here so many times before. A vote planned, a vote delayed. A vote held, a vote defeated – heavily. Another vote planned, another vote delayed. Another vote held, another major Government defeat.

We’re at 17 days (at the time of writing) before we’re due to leave the EU on March 29th. Yet, here we are, firmly in a highly embarrassing situation when it comes to Parliament, utterly gridlocked with no clear path as to how to resolve the situation. The damage this whole process will be doing to UK politics and our regard for our democratic process will be untold.

Second major defeat

The first time round Theresa May saw her deal voted down by a record 230 MPs. There is no bigger defeat in the history of Government. Obviously a record she won’t be coveting. Last night, her deal with what were really only very minor changes that carried little weight was voted down again, by only 149 MPs. This was the fourth biggest defeat in history.

In normal circumstances the Prime Minister would move aside and a new PM would be chosen or a General Election would be called. These are not normal times and the fact of the matter is that a new Tory PM would still have the same arithmetic problem when it came to votes. Corbyn wants another General Election, despite chances of him actually winning are slim to non. The idea of a second referendum has all but died, for now. So where do we go from here?

Today (Wednesday 13th March) Parliament will have the chance to vote on a No Deal Brexit. The Government has put down an amendable motion to be debated and voted:

That this house declines to approve leaving the European Union without a withdrawal agreement and a framework on the future relationship on the 29th March 2019, and notes that leaving without a deal remains the default in UK and EU law unless this house and the EU ratify an agreement.

Now you might think that should Parliament vote against this, which even the PM and most of her Cabinet are set to do, that this would take no-deal off the table. It does not. The second half of that motion means this won’t legally bind the Government to actually change law. That’s why she can vote against their own motion. That is where amendments from MPs will come into play tomorrow to try and chop off the second half of that motion.

Clear on that so far? Come Thursday, there is then a vote on whether to extend Article 50. This is where things could get beyond heated. Some will argue for a very short delay, say up to May 22nd which is the day before the EU elections. Some will argue for longer than that, say into Autumn of this year. Some are even calling for up to a couple of years. MPs will debate and then vote on how long we are to ask the EU for.

All of this is assuming that the EU will accept a delay. Many top officials there have said they would only accept a short delay if there is a good enough reason in which to do so. They do not wish to prolong this any further either. If they don’t believe anything will be achieved, they will have no reason to accept our proposal of a delay. That being said, they might give a month or so, as someone being interviewed from the EU said on TV on Tuesday night.

What all of this means is that the can has been miraculously kicked down the road. Again. The road was supposed to stop at the end of March. Somehow some builders have been in and laid more road.

So here’s my own personal view on a delay.

DGB Brexit

Short delay would be a disaster

In a previous post I talked about why a delay would be bad for the window and door industry. You can catch up with that here. The most likely scenario for a delay would be up to the EU elections on May 22nd. That’s just under two months. Personally I’m not sure what would actually be achieved in this time, as there’s no sign that any faction on any side will change their positions.

But for the window and door industry, I think this would be a disaster. I have been speaking with a number of suppliers of different products and they report that sales and new business enquiries have slowed down significantly in the last few weeks as the general public appear to now be sitting on their hands until something has truly be decided. This isn’t the story across the board it’s worth mentioning, with the South East and London appearing to be less affected at this moment in time. Further north however and the picture looks like a stalled one.

I can say that at our installations business that while lead levels are fairly steady, there has been an obvious dip in sales where home owners now appear happy to wait. Very much like they did in the run up to the referendum itself. Three years ago the taps turned back on almost straight away as the dust settled and the public got back to reality. Whether the same happens again remains to be seen.

My issue with a delay towards the end of May is that this is enough time for home owners to continue to hold on to their money. For them it’s not all that long to wait. For installers and fabricators it’s about 7 weeks too long. There are parts of our supply chain already seeing sales slow, the last thing they need is another reason for home owners to keep sitting on their hands.

My other issue is internal investment decisions within the industry. I am already seeing evidence that some companies are deciding to reallocate money and marketing decisions to other avenues that will best serve their business as they see it. My worry is that should this drag on further, we’re going to see more of that happen. Again, it won’t affect every company. It will affect some and their future investment decisions.

I like to think of myself as a pretty patient person, but even now I’m beyond bored of this, and I am starting to wonder how much more of this the UK can take. There are so many more things to be tackling in society than this. Businesses need a decision. The public need a decision. Now, not in two months time.

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