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Brexit scenarios: the paths ahead

Brexit scenarios: the paths ahead

Pro-Brexit protesters take part in the March to Leave demonstration, in London, Mar 29, 2019. (Photo: Reuters/Toby Melville)

LONDON: With British lawmakers rejecting Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit divorce deal for a third - and possibly final time - on Friday (Mar 29) what could happen next?

Britain is left with three general directions: back a deal, end up leaving with no deal or negotiate a long delay to work out a new strategy.

Here is what could happen:


If no other course of action can be agreed by Apr 12, the default option is that Britain crashes out of the EU without a deal.

This could generate economic shockwaves on both sides of the Channel and cause severe delays at border points, despite preparations to mitigate these risks.

The European Commission on Monday said this option was "increasingly likely" and announced that its no-deal Brexit preparations had been completed.

May has not ruled out the possibility of a no-deal, though British MPs have voted against ever leaving without an agreement in place.


At an extraordinary EU summit called for Apr 10, Britain could make a request for a longer delay, which would require Britain holding European parliament elections in May.

The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, has advised EU leaders that this longer extension should be at least until the end of 2019 and possibly much longer to allow for a proper change in Brexit strategy.

The longer delay would open up options such as holding a general election or, perhaps, a second referendum of sorts.

There could also be a more fundamental rethink of the Brexit strategy.

MPs held "indicative votes" on Wednesday on a range of alternative Brexit options that could rip up the withdrawal agreement and remove some of May's red lines, such as ending freedom of movement.

None of the eight options - which included staying in the EU customs union and revoking the Article 50 departure mechanism altogether - achieved a majority but MPs will try and strike consensus on Monday.


Passing the legally-binding agreement by 2300 GMT Friday would have secured a May 22 exit, assuming the the accompanying political declaration about future relations was also approved at a later date.

May now has until Apr 12 to "indicate a way forward", and could still try to revive her plan and ask EU leaders to keep the May 22 Brexit date.

The withdrawal agreement allows for a long transition period and time for trade ties to be negotiated.

In a desperate gamble to get the deal over the line, May told her MPs Wednesday that she would resign before the start of full-blown trade negotiations with the EU if they backed it.

Several contenders have been mooted to replace May, among them Michael Gove, Boris Johnson, Jeremy Hunt, Dominic Raab, Sajid Javid and David Lidington.


If the stand-off between parliament and government persists, MPs or the executive could trigger a general election.

It would reset parliament, and a clear outcome with a government majority could result in a much stronger administration.

The Conservatives are unlikely to want one under May, a departing leader.

And for both major parties, finding a definitive manifesto position on Brexit that all their MPs can commit to could prove a challenge.

Source: AFP/zl


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