14:17 GMT22 February 2020
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    David Collins, professor of international economic law at City, University of London and author of Negotiating Brexit: The Legal Basis for EU and Global Trade, has commented on UK Prime Minister Theresa May's "New Brexit Deal" speech, which contained the new changes to the government's divorce agreement that she hoped parliament would approve.

    Sputnik: Theresa May has offered a “new” Brexit plan, in an effort to get her unpopular Brexit deal approved. What exactly is different in this updated withdrawal agreement?

    David Collins: It doesn’t appear that there is anything substantively different, except a commitment to abide by EU environmental and labour standards in perpetuity, and of course the promise to have a second referendum on something, with unspecified options.

    READ MORE: UK PM Theresa May Says Brexit Bill to Be Released After EU Elections

    Sputnik: Has anything changed in the main stumbling block of the deal — the backstop plan for the Irish border?

    David Collins: No, the Prime Minister appears to have been completely disinterested in making any changes to the backstop arrangement, despite being told many times that this was the main reason that it had been rejected, at least by members of her own party and the DUP.

    Sputnik: How can this "new deal" change the situation?

    David Collins: It cannot, it was a naked attempt to fool MPs into believing that there had been a change to win over enough voters (primarily from Labour where there has been some indication of a desire for a second referendum coupled with some confusing comments about wanting stronger protections for workers). It has only succeeded in further alienating Conservative voters who supported her the last time. It is now likely that should the vote go ahead it will lose by an even larger number of voters.

    Sputnik: What's the point about a second referendum decision?

    David Collins: No one is really sure. It would seem as though there are a small number of Remainers who want a second referendum, presumably on staying in or out of the EU. They do not want a vote on the Withdrawal Agreement or No Deal. There is no indication what the referendum would ask or whether there would be 2, 3 or even 4 options. It is a ridiculous proposal that is directly contrary to what Theresa May herself promised  many times. Very dishonest politics.

    Sputnik: What's been the MPs' reaction?

    David Collins: Almost universally negative from what I can tell. The new proposal is an insult to MPs of all colours because it pretends to be all sorts of different things to keep everyone happy but in fact disappoints everyone. Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith quite rightly described it as a ‘confusing mess’. Ian Duncan Smith called it a ‘buffet of bad options’.

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    Sputnik: What may happen next?

    David Collins: Having realized that they made a profound miscalculation, any reasonable leader, especially one in Theresa May’s position would resign. But Theresa May is either in complete denial of how loathed she is or she is simply so stubborn that she doesn’t care. This is a person who should have resigned one if not two years ago. If she would not resign then, she will not resign now. I suspect that she is planning even more delays, hoping to cling to power for the rest of the year and postpone Brexit again in the name of further pointless negotiations.

    The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect Sputnik's position.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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