Wednesday 23 January 2019

What is likely to happen if deal is voted down in the Commons?

Timeline

A view of the Palace of Westminster. Stock picture
A view of the Palace of Westminster. Stock picture

The parliamentary arithmetic is not looking good for Theresa May ahead of the meaningful vote on the withdrawal deal in Parliament tomorrow. But what happens next if it is voted down? We look at the various outcomes.

1. No Deal

If the agreement is voted down and nothing substantial can be done in the coming weeks, the UK faces crashing out of the EU in March. A recent vote that gave MPs more of a say in what happens next has lessened the chances of a no-deal - which all but the most hard-line Brexiteers are keen to avoid. However, it remains unclear what type of Brexit could win a majority in the divided Commons.

2. Theresa May goes back to Europe

Both her Brexit secretary and the EU have ruled out renegotiations.

However, a former European Commission president, Romano Prodi, offered optimism for the cause of Brexiteers, who are demanding that their prime minister return to Europe to renegotiate. Mr Prodi has said he believes Europe will return to the table if the deal falls.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is willing to "listen" to new ideas from the UK. However, the Government here is clear that the deal is not for renegotiation.

3. A Brexit-themed general election

Theresa May could use parliamentary powers to call a general election in a bid to shore up a mandate for her deal. But a similar Brexit-themed election in 2017 did not go her way and left the Conservatives relying on the DUP in Parliament. The DUP will not be voting with Mrs May's government tomorrow.

4. No-confidence motion is tabled

The Labour Party could table a no-confidence motion in Mrs May if the vote is lost. If she loses that motion, an alternative government could be formed, which Labour has said it is willing to offer. If a government could not be formed, a general election would then follow.

5. A Conservative leadership challenge

A minimum of 48 letters to the 1922 Committee would trigger a leadership challenge. Speculation has ramped up about those with their eye on the prize. Boris Johnson was forced yesterday to reject the suggestion that he had been promising jobs to certain people if elected as leader.

6. Second referendum

The idea of a second referendum has been gathering pace - but what question would be put to the people is unclear. It could take the form of leave or remain. A second question could ask voters if they would rather remain or leave under the deal with the EU that has been negotiated by Mrs May. A second referendum would require Article 50 to be extended as the poll could not be held before March.

7. Second vote on the withdrawal deal

If the deal falls and some tweaks can be made, it may return to the House of Commons. Alternatively, it may also return if there is perceived to be a substantial change in the will of MPs.

Irish Independent

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