Summary:

  • The UK Parliament – for the third (and likely final) time – rejected the Withdrawal Agreement that was negotiated over the course of 18 months between the UK Government and EU.
  • As things stand, the UK is therefore on course for a No-Deal Brexit on 12 April 2019.
  • However, per last week’s summit, the EU have said that they will consider a lengthy extension to the Article 50 withdrawal process if, in light of the continuing diminishing authority of the UK Government, the UK Parliament “indicate a way forward” before 12 April “for consideration by the European council”.
  • UK Parliament will meet again on Monday to follow-up on the “indicative” vote process which commenced on Wednesday, where it is expected that some of the more popular of the eight proposals rejected on Wednesday will come to the fore. More focused engagement with the indicative votes process is expected on Monday, given it is likely the UK Government’s Withdrawal Agreement, following today’s rejection, has now been taken off the table for good. Some UK Members of Parliament had abstained from Wednesday’s votes as they waited to see if the Withdrawal Agreement would pass today.
  • Political commentary at this stage would suggest the most popular proposal is the Customs Union option, which would entail a commitment to negotiate a “permanent and comprehensive UK-wide customs union with the EU” in any Brexit deal. However, other options, including the holding of a second referendum or outright revocation of Article 50, cannot be ruled out at this juncture. And, as noted, No-Deal remains the default course of action should Parliament fail to decisively legislate to remove this option.
  • Confusing matters further, there is increasing clamour for a UK General Election to be called to break the Brexit deadlock. This too cannot be ruled out, particularly if no Parliamentary consensus is formed over the course of the ‘indicative votes’ process on Monday.