Brexit: What happens next?
MPs have again rejected a series of alternatives to Theresa May’s Brexit deal.
A call for a customs union after Brexit was defeated by just three votes, a referendum on any deal was rejected by 12 votes, the Common Market 2.0 plan lost by 21 votes and cancelling Brexit to prevent a no-deal scenario was defeated by 101.
So what happens next?
– Tuesday April 2
Theresa May has scheduled a five-hour Cabinet meeting instead of the usual 90 minutes. The first three hours will be a political Cabinet in the absence of civil servants – fuelling speculation the senior Tories will consider the prospect of a snap election, the timing of the Prime Minister’s departure or the potential for ministerial resignations if there is a change in Brexit strategy.
– Wednesday April 3
Backbench MPs will again take charge of the Commons timetable to consider Brexit plans under Tory MP Sir Oliver Letwin’s scheme to break the Parliamentary deadlock.
– Thursday April 4
After the latest round of indicative votes failed to produce a clear winner, Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay said: “If the House were to agree a deal this week it may still be possible to avoid holding European parliamentary elections.”
That could be an indication the Prime Minister might risk a fourth showdown on her Withdrawal Agreement in the hope that more Tory Eurosceptics will accept the choice is between her plan and a softer Brexit.
– Wednesday April 10
An emergency summit of European Union leaders will consider any request by the UK for a longer delay to Brexit. To be granted a further postponement the Government will have to set out what purpose it would achieve and it will almost certainly involve taking part in the European elections.
– Friday April 12
The UK is scheduled to leave the EU on April 12 after MPs rejected the Prime Minister’s deal last week.
– Thursday May 23
If Europe’s leaders have agreed an extension to the Article 50 process, the UK will elect MEPs to the European Parliament.
The breakaway Independent Group of MPs has announced it intends to set up a fully fledged political party – Change UK – to fight the elections on a pro-EU platform.
Nigel Farage will seek to continue as an MEP, this time for the newly formed Brexit Party.
– Sunday June 23
Mrs May warned MPs before they rejected her deal that a long extension would “at least delay and could destroy Brexit”.
Three years after the referendum, it is possible the UK will still be in the European Union, have newly elected MEPs and will be contributing to the Brussels budget.
– A general election?
The current make-up of the House of Commons has so far proved unable to agree on any Brexit plan so the Prime Minister could be tempted to call a snap election to break the deadlock.
But having promised not to lead the Tories into the scheduled 2022 election and then said she would quit before the next phase of the Brexit process, would her MPs allow her to fight another contest as leader?
And would a new election produce a decisive result to give whoever occupies Number 10 a majority to steer such a divisive issue through Parliament?
– A fresh referendum?
The call for another referendum was defeated by just 12 votes and campaigners seized on the fact it had more MPs voting in favour than any other option.
– A “soft” Brexit?
The narrow defeat for a customs union will increase pressure on Mrs May to move in favour of the measure.
But that would tear the Tory party apart and would be likely to result in Cabinet resignations as critics of the customs union believe it robs the UK of one of the major Brexit prizes – the ability to strike trade deals with countries such as the US.