Following a tumultuous week of dramatic votes in the House of Commons, MPs have backed a potential delay to Brexit after rejecting Theresa May’s deal for the second time as well as the prospect of crashing out without a deal on March 29th.
Now, President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker has the unenviable task of having to convince 27 sovereign nations to delay the Brexit process, putting their own economic and social futures at risk until the UK reaches a decisive conclusion in regard to its long-term relationship with the European Union.
Meanwhile at number 10, Theresa May continues to lead her ‘zombie government’ and make the case for her now-twice rejected deal with the knowledge that whatever is decided over the coming fortnight could have irreparable damage to her reputation, her party and the long-term stability of the United Kingdom.
Assuming that the other member states agree to a delay, Brexit would be postponed until June 30th, adding fuel to the fire of the narrative that officially departing the EU is no more possible than leaving Hotel California. While Theresa May says this should be for no longer than three months. she has also raised the prospect of a much longer extension if MPs won’t back her deal.
As we head towards another week of uncertainty, the date of March 29th is looking ever more unrealistic as fundamental divisions in the conservative party continue to thwart resolution to the ongoing saga that has gripped the headlines since the outcome of the referendum was announced.
Yet, despite the crucial votes that have taken place this week, a no-deal Brexit remains on the table, as does the deal proposed by the Prime Minister and even the prospect of a people’s vote. In order to get a political mandate for her deal, Theresa May could also ask MPs to vote for an early election under the terms of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act – however, it would be incredibly unlikely that May would be leading the Conservative party in a general election.
The European Court of Justice has also ruled that it would be legal for the UK to unilaterally revoke Article 50 to cancel Brexit (without the need for agreement from the other 27 EU countries) – a fact that is both music to the ears of many remain-voters and the sound of betrayal to those who voted to leave. For now, it’s clear the government is still committed to delivering Brexit: how this will play out remains incredibly difficult to predict.