Article by Mike Hough
This is the question on everybody’s lips at Westminster now. And truthfully nobody knows. So as things stand, where are we at?
Well, we have a Draft Withdrawal Agreement. Not very popular with Parliament. We have a Draft Political Declaration. Again, not very popular with Parliament. And, as the Prime Minister is attempting to get sign off from the EU27, Spain is threatening to veto any agreement in a row over Gibraltar.
Added to this, there has been a failed coup against the Prime Minister. And the DUP appear close to pulling the plug on the confidence and supply agreement keeping Theresa May in power. So just another normal couple of weeks in Westminster then!
Ok, so what do we know for certain? Well, assuming Theresa May gets her deal agreed in Europe, it will be put to a vote in Parliament, the so-called ‘Meaningful Vote.’ Looking at the current numbers who are opposed to the deal (BuzzFeed have a list here), it is hard to see how the Prime Minister can gain a majority for her deal.
But that might not be the end of the story with the ‘Meaningful Vote.’ If as expected the motion is amendable we may see amendments pushed to a vote on a second referendum or a No Deal. At this stage, again it is hard to see a parliamentary majority for either of these options, especially as these votes are likely to occur before the major vote on the deal.
Then, we are in uncharted territory. Do the letters then come in from Conservative backbenchers for a leadership conference? Do the markets crash? Does the Prime Minister have to return to Brussels? Does a Vote of No Confidence in the Government pass? Is a General Election triggered? Does Parliament pass the deal on a second vote?
Truthfully, we are then in uncharted territory and none of those options can be ruled out. There has been speculation that the Government expect to lose the initial vote but then pass the deal on a second vote after the markets baulk and MPs minds are focused. That appears to be a hostage to events which could spiral quickly.
Chris Mason from the BBC summed it up the best. When asked for his analysis of Brexit and what would happen next, he replied “I haven’t got the foggiest.” You and us all Chris. You and us all!