- Yesterday, March 27, 2019, saw more major developments within UK Parliament as the UK continues to struggle to formulate a Brexit strategy ahead of the default No-Deal Brexit date of 11 April 2019.
- Prior to the 8 sets of “indicative” votes that took place March 27, 2019 evening, which were designed to indicate what strategy Members of Parliament would be willing to pursue in order to break the Brexit deadlock, the UK Prime Minister made one final push to get the Withdrawal Agreement her Government negotiated with the EU approved, by announcing to colleagues that she was willing to step down if they voted for her twice-rejected Withdrawal Agreement.
- The UK Government has subsequently announced today that a vote on the Withdrawal Agreement will indeed take place tomorrow. It is unclear at this stage whether this announcement will increase the likelihood of her deal being voted through: although some MPs have now said they will switch their vote and approve the Withdrawal Agreement, the Democratic Unionist Party – the Northern Irish party whose members back continued unity with Britain, and whose votes have been key to the UK Government’s ability to pass legislation – have said its 10 MPs will again reject it.
- On March 27, 2019, UK Parliament rejected eight different proposals on Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. The proposals can be broadly split into three categories:
- Hard Brexit – represented by proposals on No-Deal and a standstill trade deal negotiation. These were the two least voted-for options.
- Soft Brexit – represented by a customs union proposal and two single market models. The customs union proposal, which requires a commitment to negotiate a “permanent and comprehensive UK-wide customs union with the EU” in any Brexit deal, came closest to securing a Parliamentary majority of any of the eight options.
- No Brexit – represented by proposals for a Second Referendum and outright revocation of Article 50, the formal mechanism for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. The proposal for a Second Referendum got the most votes of approval of any of the eight options.
- As regards next steps, on the assumption that the Withdrawal Agreement is again rejected tomorrow, March 29, 2019, UK Parliament will meet again on Monday to follow-up on the “indicative” vote process, where it is expected that some of the more popular of the rejected proposals – including the second referendum option – will again be put forward for another vote. More focused engagement with the process would be expected, as the UK Government’s Withdrawal Agreement would, by this point, have been taken off the table for good.
- To date, no substantial progress has been made as to the method and timing of Brexit. All options remain open until 12 April 2019; a softer Brexit, No-Deal Brexit, or no Brexit at all.