The government has set a date of 11 December for the ‘meaningful vote’ to take place, where MPs from all sides of the House of Commons will vote for or against Theresa May’s Brexit deal.
If a majority of MPs decide to vote for the deal, then it will be full steam ahead to Britain leaving the European Union. However, with the level of outrage from all sides of the House towards May’s deal, this is looking to be an increasingly unlikely outcome.
If MPs vote against the deal on 11 December, then there are multiple scenarios that could take place afterwards:
Scenario 1) The deal is re-negotiated
This is perhaps the most likely outcome.
Thanks to an amendment by Dominic Grieve voted through in the Commons earlier this month, Theresa May will have just three days to return to parliament with a plan for how to proceed with Brexit. Article 50 will almost certainly have to be extended.
If the deal is voted down, the government already has a plethora of complaints, or suggestions as to how to amend the deal, before taking it back to Brussels. It then remains to be seen whether Brussels accepts changes to the deal. This also likely involve the prime minister asking for more time to negotiate.
At this point, the push from those supporting a ‘people’s vote’ on the Brexit deal would likely be the strongest.
Scenario 2) May stands down
If Theresa May stands down, a Conservative leadership election would ensue. This would distract from Brexit proceedings, and most likely cause for disruption to them. The successive leader would then have to decide how to proceed. Given the prime minister’s past stubbornness, she is unlikely to stand down.
Scenario 3) Vote of no-confidence
A vote of no-confidence can now not be brought against Theresa May until 12 December 2019.
Theoretically, a vote of no-confidence becomes more likely as Theresa May loses the trust of her party. 48 letters of no-confidence need to be submitted to launch a vote, and if the deal is voted down, her weakened position may lead Tory MPs to seal her fate. However, the prime minister is likely to survive the vote, if it is passed.
Scenario 4) Labour forces a general election
Labour have suggested they may try to force an early election by seeking a vote of no-confidence in the government, if the deal is voted down. This would see the Conservative party face the public at its weakest point, having just failed to win Commons support. This may well be Labour’s preferred tactic.
Scenario 5) No-deal Brexit
This would be the most damaging in terms of the economy, however it does have support from hardline Brexiters. It is significantly less likely than the other scenarios.
Those who have already resigned from the government in protest, or submitted letters of no-confidence against the PM, are likeliest to vote the deal down. It remains to be seen whether Theresa May will have the much-needed support of the DUP, or enough of the hardline Brexiteers in the Commons.