Brexit: what happens next?

Theresa May has admitted she will not get a Brexit deal in time to put it to Parliament for a “meaningful vote” this week.

What happens now?

The Prime Minister has promised MPs will be given a meaningful vote on a final deal by March 12 at the latest.

She is meeting key EU figures at the EU-League of Arab States summit in Sharm el Sheikh on Monday, while talks resume in Brussels on Tuesday on the Northern Ireland backstop.

There will also be another series of Commons votes on Wednesday.

Theresa May has said MPs will get a meaningful vote on the Brexit deal by March 12 at the latest (House of Commons/PA)

So what are those votes about?

The Government will table what is expected to be a “neutral” motion and MPs will have a chance to put down amendments which the House can then vote on – assuming they are selected for debate by Speaker John Bercow.

What is likely to come up?

The key amendment is expected to be a cross-party move, drawn up by Labour MP Yvette Cooper and Tory former minister Sir Oliver Letwin, to effectively block a no-deal Brexit.

It is designed to enable Parliament to demand the Government seeks an extension to the Article 50 withdrawal process, delaying Britain’s departure from the EU if there is no deal by mid March.

Yvette Cooper is tabling an amendment to block a no-deal Brexit (PA)

Will it be passed?

A similar amendment was defeated last month, despite official backing from the Labour Party, but many at Westminster think it could be different this time.

As the clock counts down to Brexit day on March 29, more Tories opposed to a no-deal break could be tempted to break ranks and support it.

Three Cabinet ministers, Amber Rudd, Greg Clark and David Gauke, have even hinted they could vote for it, and there are reports that up to 20 ministers could be prepared to resign – or risk the sack – in order to back it.

What does the Government say?

Ministers insist it would be a “mistake” for MPs to support the amendment as it effectively takes control of the Brexit process out of the hands of the Government and passes to Parliament with potentially unforeseen consequences.

Some MPs, however, suspect that privately Mrs May would be happy for it to pass as it would effectively kill off no-deal without her having to take on directly the Brexiteers of the Tory European Research Group (ERG).

What happens if it does go through?

Then we are in uncharted waters. The ERG would be furious, with accusations that Brexit had been betrayed, but apart from that, it is hard to predict.

In the past a government might have been expected to resign after such a defeat, but the Fixed Term Parliaments Act means it could be hard for the opposition to force a general election as Labour have already discovered once.

In those circumstances, it is still possible Mrs May could soldier on to stage her meaningful vote on March 12 – although whether she could do so with Tory support alone must be in doubt.

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