We now have less than a month until we leave the European Union, and there are multiple votes in the Commons still left to go. Here’s what to expect.
On the 12th March (or before), the Prime Minister will give Parliament a Meaningful Vote on her Withdrawal Agreement. Should Parliament vote in favour of her deal, we will leave the European Union as scheduled on 29th March with her deal.
Should Parliament vote against her Withdrawal Agreement, another vote will take place on 13th March. This vote will decide whether Parliament gives consent to leaving the European Union without a deal. To the EU this is effectively meaningless, but it seems that the Prime Minister is willing to take it seriously and take action if MPs vote against No Deal.
If Parliament votes in favour of No Deal, we will leave as scheduled on March 29th without a deal and we’ll apparently run out of sandwiches and lettuce and starve to death. If Parliament votes against No Deal, then the Prime Minister will hold a vote on an extension to Article 50, the following day on 14th March.
Then, if MPs vote in favour of a delay, the UK will ask the EU for an extension to Article 50 that could cost as much as £7 billion for the privilege. However, should MPs vote against a Brexit delay, then we’re in uncharted water. Technically, we’ll be on track to leave the European Union without a deal on the 29th. EU leaders have already told us we can’t stop it, but we’ll have to wait and see what happens. When things get desperate, anything can happen – and with the European elections around the corner, EU leaders might be more willing to renegotiate.
If MPs vote against a Brexit delay on 14th March, Theresa May will have found herself in an impossible situation. She will have ruled out No Deal, and ruled out an extension – meaning the only way forward would be leaving without a deal. But there is no deal.
Current law says we would leave without a deal, but if Mrs May allows that to happen then she’ll have gone back on a very significant promise. It probably wouldn’t really matter at that point, though, as she would almost certainly have to resign or be forced out with a vote of no confidence.
My prediction? I suspect May will get a deal – and if she reaches the impossible situation outlined above on the 14th March, I reckon the EU will scramble for a last-minute deal that Parliament can get on board with.