Brexit will definitely take place at 11 pm GMT on 29 March 2019…
… or so it will if a new amendment to be tabled by the UK Government to the Brexit bill currently before Parliament gets made.
However, with no Government majority, the future of the amendment, or the Brexit legislation itself, is far from assured.
The Bill has passed the first hurdle, called “second reading” and is due to make its way through committee, a process fraught with obstacles.
Placating the right flank
The announcement is widely perceived as a move to placate hardline Brexiteers within the Conservative party.
Theresa May will be hoping to quell bitter disputes about the so-called “cliff edge” if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, and to convince “Remoaners” that there is no going back.
Conservative heavyweight, Michael Hesseltine described the development as a “panic measure” in the face of growing hostility to Brexit.
Even as the Government moves to set the end-point of the process in stone, critics worry that it is no further forward in its negotiations with Brussels.
The latest round of talks with the European Commission is thought to be unlikely to break the deadlock.