Brexit Breakthrough?

22 March 2019


After Prime Minister Theresa May secured a Brexit extension from EU, CLA Public Affairs Adviser Eleanor Wood looks at what comes next.

Ellie Wood

I’m exhausted, is anyone else?

Attempting to follow Brexit this week has been an ever changing climate, we are just one week away from 29 March and there is still vast uncertainty about what Brexit is going to look like. This week however it appeared that a timeline is finally starting to emerge through the chaos.
Late last night the Prime Minister secured an extension from the EU to delay exiting until 22 May, to allow time for the legislation to pass the House of Commons. HOWEVER, this is conditional on MPs backing the PM’s meaningful vote on its third attempt next Monday. The Prime Minister and her team are playing this off as a victory, but it’s much shorter than the 30 June extension that she went to the EU summit originally asking for. This is because European elections take place on 23 May, and the UK would have to absurdly hold elections for MEPs, if they remained in the EU until the end of June.
It’s not just Westminster that is deeply divided on Brexit, it’s also spread to EU leaders. With Germany keen to avoid a cliff edge that would damage trade, whereas France is firm that if the PMs deal fails to pass Parliament, it should be a no deal scenario in order to prevent Brexit damaging the stability of the EU.
But what about the House of Commons?  More MPs are looking towards supporting the deal but crucially not enough, as it’s still unlikely to pass, due to the strong divisions both within the Conservative party and across the House. If the deal fails to pass through the House of Commons again, the EU has granted the UK two extra weeks until 12 April to come up with a back-up plan, or provide evidence that something significant has changed.
This would very likely see the end of Theresa May as Prime Minister, as the Conservative party can not stomach the idea of a long extension (with some seeing it as a phony Brexit), and it would ultimately prove that her deal was a bad deal.
Several scenarios are possible if the deal doesn’t pass, such as a lengthy extension of Article 50 of up to a year, a second referendum, a general election or simply leaving with a no-deal on 12 April. I may be the political expert for the CLA, but I can’t say with any certainty what will come next.
You may have heard this a lot recently, but next week will be historic in defining our future relationship with the EU.
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