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What could happen next in the Brexit saga now MPs voted to extend Article 50?

What could happen next in the Brexit saga now MPs voted to extend Article 50?
Copyright Reuters
Copyright Reuters
By Pascale Davies
Published on Updated
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MPs voted against Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal this week, as well as rejecting crashing out of the EU with no deal and for an extension to Article 50. But what does this mean now?


British MPs voted on Thursday to push back the UK's departure from the EU until at least June 30, 2019, if parliament agrees to a withdrawal deal by March 20.

Earlier this week, lawmakers also voted against Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal and against crashing out of the bloc with no deal.

While small steps were made in the UK Parliament, and with the clock ticking on the UK's departure, here are the possible next steps in the ongoing saga.

Delaying Brexit

A delay to Brexit appears the likely outcome after Thursday's vote, which now means the original departure date of March 29 is no longer UK government policy.

Theresa May will now seek an extension to Article 50, which is the term for the negotiation period. There will be two options on the table: either a short extension or a long extension.


But any extension will be determined by the remaining EU27, who can veto any delay.

Decision back in the hands of the EU

On Thursday, a European Union Commission spokesperson said:

"A request for an extension of Article 50 requires the unanimous agreement of all 27 Member States. It will be for the European Council (Article 50) to consider such a request, giving priority to the need to ensure the functioning of EU institutions and taking into account the reasons for and duration of a possible extension."

EU leaders, including May, will meet next week at a summit in Brussels next Thursday and Friday to vote on any Brexit delay.

Noise from the EU appears to suggest an extension to Brexit would be granted if the UK made its plan going forward clear. On Thursday, European Council President Donald Tusk wrote on Twitter: “I will appeal to the EU27 to be open to a long extension if the UK finds it necessary to rethink its Brexit strategy and build consensus around it,”


May's deal: Third time lucky?

MPs will now vote once more on Theresa May's Brexit deal, which is likely to take place next week. The government has until then to convince the DUP, which props up May's Conservatives, and its Eurosceptic Tory allies to get behind the agreement.


But it will be a tough ask. Despite the margin of defeat narrowing in the second vote, the first in January was one of the biggest government defeats in history and the EU is unlikely to have any new information on the deal.

If MPs vote against the deal again, they will have to accept a long extension of Brexit and would have to participate in May's European Parliament election.

But If they vote in favour of the May's Brexit plan, a short extension, which would go on until June 30, would be an option so long as the EU approves it.

No-deal scenario

Despite MPs voting on Wednesday against leaving the bloc with no deal, a hard Brexit is still the default option until an agreement can be reached or Article 50 is revoked.

REUTERS/ Tom Jacobs
Las banderas ondean frente al Parlamento, antes de la votación en Londres.REUTERS/ Tom Jacobs

That scenario has haunted many businesses. On Thursday, the Financial Times quoted Edwin Morgan, interim director general of the Institute of Directors, as saying:

“Few in business will be stepping forward to thank Parliament for its efforts this week. We know a tiny, tiny amount more about the next steps than we did a couple of days ago, but the problem is that the clock is still ticking and no deal is still the default.

“It may be folly to hope that Parliament can agree on anything more than what it doesn’t want, but the Brexit process parted company with reason a long time ago, so what choice do business leaders have?”

Read more:


Brexit Guide: where are we now?

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