U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was thwarted by a cross-party group of politicians who voted to postpone the “meaningful vote” on his new divorce deal and force him to ask Brussels for an extension to the current Oct. 31 Brexit deadline.
The developments in Parliament set up a complicated week with just 11 days left until the U.K. is still due to leave the world’s largest trading bloc.
Will there be a deadline delay?
Brussels could offer a technical extension of a few weeks in the hope of passing the agreement they recently thrashed out with Johnson. Or they could accept what Johnson was obliged to ask for on Saturday night and push the date back to January 31, opening the door to a U.K. general election — which itself could lead to a renegotiation or a second referendum.
They could also push it out until June 2020 when the next cycle of EU budgets begins, but this is seen as unlikely with the Brexit fatigue that has set in across the whole of Europe.
EU leaders are expected to take their time with a response, but it could come as early as Monday.
When will the vote now happen?
Instead, the government could present the full Withdrawal Agreement Bill early this week and slowly to try to pass it through both chambers — the House of Commons and the House of Lords. This will involve days of debate, many attempts to amend the bill and a selection of different votes as the week progresses. A crunch, decisive question to lawmakers would then come later in the week or be pushed back even further.
Could we still have no deal?Yes. The cross-party amendment that was backed on Saturday tried to reduce the odds of a no deal, but it could still happen. The EU could say no to an extension. The passage of the bill could also be held up and not make it through Parliament in the time available.
Could there still be a second referendum?Yes. Some MPs (Members of Parliament) will likely try to amend the bill this week to make sure there is a “confirmatory” referendum. If a lengthy extension is granted by the EU then nothing is ruled out. Several opposition parties would campaign to offer a so-called People’s Vote in the event of a general election, or could promise to abandon Brexit altogether.
What are the experts saying?
Analysts at Deutsche Bank said “the outlook for a Brexit resolution remains constructive,” explaining that the makeup of the voting on Saturday actually meant that Johnson could receive enough backing for his deal at a later date.
The bank also said it would “retain our constructive outlook on the U.K., and long sterling and short U.K. real yield recommendations.”
If Brexit already seems complicated, it might be about to get a whole lot more so.