MPs reject Theresa May’s Brexit deal again – what happens now?


MPs have rejected Theresa May’s Brexit deal for the second time in three months – so, what happens now?

:: More votes on Brexit outcomes

Prior to Tuesday’s second “meaningful” vote on her withdrawal agreement, the prime minister had already promised, in the event she was defeated, further votes this week on differing Brexit outcomes.

Now that she has seen her deal spurned again, Mrs May will firstly ask MPs whether they want to approve the UK leaving the EU without a withdrawal agreement, known as a no-deal Brexit.

This vote will be held on Wednesday, with Tory MPs being given a free vote on the issue.

If MPs reject a no-deal Brexit, the prime minister will then ask MPs whether they want her to seek a “short” and “limited” extension to the Article 50 negotiating period.

This would delay Brexit beyond the current scheduled departure date of 29 March.

A vote on this will be held on Thursday.

The EU has warned that, if the UK’s exit from the bloc is delayed beyond the European Parliament elections between 23-26 May, Britain will have to elect MEPs to serve in Brussels and Strasbourg.

:: What will Labour do?

The last time Mrs May saw her Brexit deal rejected by MPs, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tabled a confidence motion in the government, in the hope of forcing a general election.

With the support of the DUP, the government survived that vote in January.

Labour might try a repeat now the prime minister has seen her deal defeated again, but Mr Corbyn showed no immediate sign of taking such action.

:: What other options does the PM have?

Before or after votes on a no-deal Brexit or an extension to Article 50, the prime minister might also – with varying degrees of likeliness – pursue one of a number of other options:

1. Resign

Having seen her Brexit deal defeated twice, Mrs May might decide she no longer commands the confidence of MPs to negotiate the UK’s exit from the EU and it is time for her to leave 10 Downing Street.

2. Call a general election

The prime minister could also decide the only way to break the Brexit deadlock in parliament is to replace the current make up of the Commons through a general election.

After winning a vote of confidence among Tory MPs last year, the prime minister told her party she would not lead them into the next general election.

However, whether Mrs May’s pledge applies to a snap election is still unclear.

3. Extend Article 50 herself

Rather than be forced into requesting an extension to Article 50 through a Commons vote, the prime minister might decide to seek a short delay to Brexit herself.

This would give her more time to pass a Brexit deal.

4. Keep battling on

The prime minister could keep to her chosen tactic and stick with her Brexit deal.

She might try and convince MPs again that her withdrawal agreement is worth backing, and bring it back to the Commons for a third vote.

Mrs May will hope the threat of the UK’s exit from the EU never taking place – or being substantially delayed – could force Brexiteer MPs to swallow their opposition and eventually back her deal.

5. Try and win further concessions from the EU

EU leaders are set to gather for a Brussels summit on 21 March to discuss Brexit.

The prime minister might try and use this opportunity to stage another effort to win changes to her withdrawal agreement, before putting it back to MPs for a third time.

However, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has already warned “there will be no third chance”.

He added: “There will be no further interpretations of the interpretations; and no further assurances of the re-assurances.”

6. Call another referendum

It’s unlikely, but the prime minister also has the option of putting her Brexit deal to a public vote for approval.

Anti-Brexit MPs would try and ensure another referendum included remaining in the EU as an option for voters.

Brexit Crisis Live: Watch Sky News’ special programme from 6pm as MPs vote on ruling out a no-deal Brexit

(c) Sky News 2019: MPs reject Theresa May’s Brexit deal again – what happens now?

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