Brexit: What Happens Next?
Last month Theresa May announced her Brexit withdrawal deal and as expected, it was met with a dramatic response from MPs. Some members of the cabinet resigned immediately whilst others publically protested for her replacement. May remained confident and scheduled a vote on the 11th December to allow MPs to vote for or against her deal. Controversially, a statement was released yesterday stating that this has been pushed back indefinitely. Over 100 MPs were expected to vote against her Brexit deal, with most contention coming from May’s Irish 'backstop' (an insurance policy to prevent a hard Irish Border), so it seems the Prime Minister has delayed the vote to prevent her defeat in parliament. However, if MPs continue to rebel and she doesn’t get the support she needs, what happens next? The most likely outcome, in that case, is that the UK will leave the EU without a deal. The Brexit deadline of the 29th March 2019 is just over three months away and considering how long it has taken to get to this point, it is unlikely that another deal could be agreed. A ‘no deal’ Brexit would mean as of the 29th March we would abruptly leave the EU without a transition period to finalise any changes. Such a sudden end to the relationship between the UK and EU could result in major issues for both trade and travel, which would be difficult to resolve. May has stressed that this is a real possibility if MPs continue to oppose her deal, whereas Jeremy Corbyn has disregarded these claims stating ‘nobody would allow no deal’ (ITV). If Corbyn is correct and a ‘no deal’ Brexit is not an option, the Prime Minister could be forced to renegotiate with the EU. May has repeatedly stated this is the best exit deal the UK will get, so what happens if her cabinet doesn’t believe it? The Conservative government could look to appoint a new leader to determine a new agreement. However, if (as expected) the EU stays firm on their Brexit strategy, this could be a waste of time that could have been spent on finalising May's current deal. An equally impractical suggestion is the proposal of a general election. Nicola Sturgeon, Nigel Farage and Jeremy Corbyn have all expressed their concerns that the current Conservative government is too unstable to successfully navigate Brexit – but would a new government make things any better? From a political perspective it is clear why opposing political leaders would call for a general election, however, it would not resolve any of the current concerns about Brexit. A new government would, of course, bring fresh ideas to the Brexit negotiations, but it is unlikely there is enough time for this to be a real option. This morning Theresa May has flown to the EU to ‘discuss the concerns parliament has expressed’ (Guardian). Some have questioned whether she is delaying the inevitable or is making one last attempt to successfully navigate the UK's exit from the EU and in turn her save her career? As always with Brexit, changes seem to happen quickly and unexpectedly. We will keep you up to date as they occur, but in the meantime, what do you think will happen next?Read More