Jan 22 2019
Professor Chris Hanretty, Head of School for Politics, International Relations and Philosophy has been gaining coverage in the media over the last few weeks, commenting on Brexit.

With lots happening over the past week, Chris has put together a summary of what has happened and what the possible next steps are.


What's happened?

The House of Commons voted down a proposed Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and the EU.

The Withdrawal Agreement was supported by the Prime Minister and a majority of the Conservative party, but was opposed by all other parties, and one-third of Conservative MPs.

The defeat was the largest government defeat in modern British history.

Despite this, the government still has the support of a majority of members of parliament, and will continue in office.


What happens next?

It's not clear. There are four main possibilities.

First, the UK might leave the EU without any agreement ("no deal"). This will happen automatically unless the UK and EU reach an agreement by the 29th March.

Second, the government might ask Parliament to vote again. Parliament might change its mind because warnings about the negative consequences of "No Deal" become more persuasive, or because the government is able to reach a slightly different agreement on the "Political Declaration" that accompanies the Withdrawal Agreement.

(The Political Declaration sets out the proposed future relationship between the UK and the EU, rather than just the "terms of the divorce").

Third, the government might try and kick the can down the road. The EU might agree to an extension of the Article 50 period in order to allow a referendum between May's Deal and No Deal, or between May's Deal and Remain. Any extension would be strictly time limited. The EU would very much like to avoid extensions past May 2019, when European Parliament elections are scheduled to be held.

The EU would be very unlikely to allow an indefinite extension, or an extension longer than six months. If no agreement can be reached before the summer, and if "no deal" is unacceptable, that leaves a fourth option: revoking Article 50 and remaining in the EU.