A few days before the deadline of March 29 for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union the deadline has been extended until April 12 but it is still unclear if the Brexit will occur or not and under what circumstances it will occur.
Almost three years after the referendum, the biggest political crisis in the recent history of the United Kingdom leaves three options: leave without agreement, come out with an agreement or stop the divorce.
Even the details of when the Brexit would occur are vague: it could happen abruptly at 0.00 o’clock on April 12, but some European officials suggest that it could also be later, with or without agreement.
1. BREXIT WITHOUT AGREEMENT
The chaos in London is such that Parliament rejects the Brexit agreement reached by the Prime Minister, Theresa May, for the third time next week and the United Kingdom leaves without an agreement shortly after April 12.
European leaders on Thursday agreed to give May a period of two weeks, until April 12. Only if the deputies approve the agreement of the prime minister will the exit be postponed until May 22.
“The British Government will still have a choice of an agreement, no agreement, a long extension or revoke Article 50,” said the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, referring to the clause of the Lisbon Treaty that regulates the exit From United Kingdom.
“April 12 is a key date in terms of the UK deciding whether to hold the European elections, if it has not been decided by then, the option of a long extension will automatically be impossible,” he added.
The EU has now put the ball on the roof of the United Kingdom, which must decide before April 12 if it participates in the European elections as part of a long-term rethinking or is preparing to leave by May 22, or possibly in June, without agreement.
“Everything is now in the hands of the House of Commons, that is the message,” stresses a senior EU official. So if May’s agreement fails again, the risk of an exit without agreement increases unless Parliament can find another option, which would mean usurping control of the prime minister and her government.
It is not yet clear when Parliament will vote, but everything seems to indicate that it could be on Tuesday. To carry out his plan, May must get the support of at least 75 deputies: dozens of rebels in the conservative ranks, as well as some Labor Party members, and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which supports its minority government.
If the ‘premier’ expected her televised message on Wednesday to persuade the doubtful deputies to support her, it seems that this has not been the case. For the time being, it seems unlikely that the Retreat Agreement will go ahead next week, although the prospect of a non-agreement could cause more parliamentarians to support May.
During their meeting on Thursday, the other 27 leaders of the EU were less convinced than before the prime minister will take forward the agreement, according to official sources consulted by Reuters.
French President Emmanuel Macron said that before traveling to Brussels he thought May had a 10 percent chance of winning the vote. After listening to it, he lowered it to 5 percent. In the face of general assent, according to a person present, Tusk said Macron was “very optimistic.”
May says he will not postpone Brexit beyond June 30, although the EU has said that the United Kingdom should be outside the bloc it entered in 1973 before the European elections held between May 23 and 26.
If he fails in his third attempt to carry out his agreement, his authority would be damaged, although the mechanism to remove him from office is not clear either. The prime minister could call elections, which would also require an extension to avoid an exit without an agreement.
2. BREXIT WITH AGREEMENT
May gets his agreement approved to the third and the UK leaves the EU in an orderly manner on May 22. O May loses and the Parliament takes control at the last minute and raises something different.
The agreement negotiated by May with the EU was defeated by 149 votes on March 12 and by 230 votes on January 15. If the text fails, or if a new vote on the same agreement is impeded, Parliament could take control of Brexit before April 12, seeking a closer relationship with the EU by remaining in the customs union.
“At this point, either we would leave without agreement, or we would present an alternative plan,” May said after the European summit. The deputies will debate on Monday a government motion stipulating that Parliament has considered a declaration made by the ‘premier’ on March 15 that sets the next steps of the Executive on Brexit, including the plan to seek an extension.
Parliamentarians are likely to propose changes or amendments to this motion, setting out alternative ways to move forward with Brexit. Among them is expected to include a proposal to approve the May agreement only if it is submitted to a referendum.
Although the amendments are not legally binding, but instead put political pressure on May to change course, parliamentarians could use an attempt to change Parliament’s rules to take over the Brexit process by removing it from the Government.
They could even use an amendment to seek a vote to revoke the activation of Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon in order to cancel the Brexit. Some deputies have proposed a series of indicative votes to plan a way forward. If May’s agreement is defeated on Tuesday, this could happen on Wednesday.
Parliament should be given the opportunity to look for an alternative way and the deputies would support a post-Brexit relationship in the style of the Norwegian one, Conservative MP Oliver Letwin has pointed out.
3. STOP THE BREXIT
May’s agreement fails and Parliament decides to revoke Article 50 warning of divorce or to demand another referendum. O May falls and general elections are called.
European leaders have repeatedly raised the possibility that the United Kingdom will revoke Article 50, something that the ‘premier’ has also repeatedly rejected. Another option is to hold a referendum.
In the celebration on June 23, 2016, 17.4 million voters (51.9 percent) supported leaving the EU while 16.1 million (48.1 percent) supported staying.
Although many polls before the vote wrongly predicted that Brexit would be rejected, polls now suggest that there is no great desire for a second vote and suggest that many voters, fed up with the political dispute, would be happy to leave the EU without agreement.
The leader of the Labor Party, Jeremy Corbyn, who voted against joining the EU in 1975 and gave reluctant support to the campaign for permanence in 2016, has offered ambiguous support for another referendum, arguing that it would encourage one that would accompanied by general elections.
Asked if he would vote in favor of staying in a future referendum, Corbyn said Sunday: “It depends on which election we have before us.”
In the government, there is fear that a second referendum would exacerbate the deep divisions that the 2016 vote exposed, alienate millions of voters in favor of Brexit and boost support for the extreme right.
Today, many Brexit supporters, and even some parliamentarians, denounce that the elite has sabotaged the EU’s divorce and is trying to subvert the will of the people.
It is far from clear how Britain would vote, and if it voted to stay, Brexit supporters could request a third and final referendum.