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That plans are underway does not imply no deal. That Parliament voted against no deal does not imply that it won't happen.

A range of possibilities still exist although some are more likely than others.


A Brexit Central "Civil Servant" notes a Fourth Vote on the Withdrawal Agreement Would Require New Legal Authority.

If the Prime Minister insists on ramming her totally unacceptable Withdrawal Agreement through Parliament with another vote, then she will need to take the considerable political risk of going to Brussels to ask for a new European Council decision for this purpose, which will then require an amended Statutory Instrument to be passed in Parliament.

May’s Withdrawal Agreement is dead. It is time to chuck it in the shredder, change Prime Minister, and get out of the EU.

Here’s the full text of the European Council decision of 22nd March:

Under the European Council decision, in the event that the withdrawal agreement is approved by the House of Commons by 29 March 2019 at the latest, the extension will be until 22 May 2019. In the event that the withdrawal agreement is not approved by the House of Commons by 29 March 2019, the extension will be until 12 April 2019. In that event, the UK will indicate a way forward before 12 April 2019, for consideration by the European Council. The decision makes clear that for the duration of the extension the United Kingdom remains a member state with all the rights and obligations set out in the treaties and under EU law. If the UK is still a member state on 23-26 May 2019, it will be under the obligation to hold elections to the European Parliament. The extension also excludes any re-opening of the withdrawal agreement. Any unilateral commitment, statement or other act by the UK should be compatible with the letter and the spirit of the withdrawal agreement.

Legalities vs Practicalities

Legally, that's very clear. It says Parliament has until March 29 to approve the withdrawal agreement. Parliament did not do that. What remains is an option to indicate a way forward before April 12.

"Civil Servant", whose identity is protected, has this correct.

As a practical matter, throw the analysis in the ashcan. If May holds a 4th vote and it passes, the EU will honor it.

Thus, May's deal is not dead.

MP's Gave May Authority to Leave With No Deal

Here's a similarly useless opinion: MPs have given Theresa May the authority to leave the EU on 12th April without a deal.

MPs have indeed voted against many things: the Withdrawal Agreement, leaving without a deal, a managed No Deal, a customs union, a confirmatory referendum and various versions of EFTA/EEA including so-called Common Market 2.0. Let’s focus, however, on the indicative vote on Motion L, tabled by Joanna Cherry of the SNP: “Revoke Article 50 to avoid No Deal”. This motion stated that if we were two days before the scheduled date of departure from the EU and with no Withdrawal Agreement in place, the Government should put a motion to the House asking it to approve No Deal and if that was not approved, then the Government would be forced to revoke Article 50. The motion was defeated overwhelmingly by 293 votes to 184. To understand the significance of this vote, recall that if the Withdrawal Agreement was not approved before Friday 29th March, the extension to Article 50 granted by the EU would last only until Friday 12th April. Now it has not been approved, the default remains that we leave the European Union without a deal. Given that MPs have indicated they are opposed to every other option, we are in precisely the situation envisaged by Motion L.

Now that the Withdrawal Agreement has been voted down three times, the only defensible strategy the Prime Minister has is to ensure the UK leaves the EU on 12th April.

Once again, this makes perfect sense logically. Once again, it is a waste of time to do anything but quickly dismiss it.

Way Forward

A Guardian editorial states MPs Offer a Way Out

This week MPs voted for the first time since 1906 to take back control of parliamentary business from the government and hold a series of indicative votes on where they thought Brexit should go.

There is now a straightforward choice: either change Brexit policy or change the parliament. The latter requires a general election, but the odds are against any party gaining a big majority. The predicament the nation finds itself in is in part a consequence of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011. This does not allow for the dissolution of parliament when a prime minister has been defeated on the government’s legislation. The act says two-thirds of MPs have to approve a motion for an early election to be called.

Mrs May should pay attention to the outcome of next week’s votes. She is running out of time to come up with a plan that either parliament or her party and its allies can support. Mrs May needs to tell EU leaders at an emergency European council meeting on 10 April how the UK intends to proceed. The UK must also come up with proposals before 12 April to avert a ruinous no-deal Brexit, which MPs have voted against. Restoring the sovereignty of parliament was one of the major aims of Brexit. Mrs May could honour that by accepting what MPs vote for.

One Useful Fact Accompanied With Lies

The "way out" is a lie. The Guardian wants a customs union. That is not a way out, it is a way to remain in the EU with all the problems and none of the benefits.

The Guardian's portrayal of no-deal as ruinous is another lie.

The useful fact is something I meant to discuss previously but did not do so.

May can call for elections, but she might not get them, and in fact probably wouldn't. It takes two-thirds of MPs to go along and enough Tories wouldn't.

Snap Elections Blocked

Please consider furious Tory MPs tell May: We’ll Block Snap Brexit Election.

Conservative MPs from across the party are threatening to vote down any attempt by Theresa May to lead them into a snap election, warning it would split the Tories and exacerbate the Brexit crisis.

In a sign of the collapse in authority suffered by the prime minister, cabinet ministers are among those warning that there will be a serious campaign by Conservative MPs to vote against an election headed by May, a move she hinted at last week to break the Brexit deadlock.

The threat of an election immediately angered both pro-Brexit and pro-Remain MPs. May would need a two-thirds majority in the Commons to secure one, meaning a serious rebellion by Tories could block it. May would then be forced to secure an election by backing a no-confidence vote in her own government, which only requires a simple majority of MPs.

Vote of Confidence

Even some pro-remain MPs don't want snap elections. Also note the odd proposal that May could back a vote of confidence against herself to force an election.

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Although it only takes 50% for May to be removed in a vote of confidence, that does not explicitly force elections either.

Wikipedia notes that under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, if a motion of no confidence in the government is passed in express terms, the house must then adopt a vote of confidence in that same or an alternate government within 14 days, or a general election is held.

There is a 14 day window to form a new government with uncertain outcomes. And although Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn is itching for an election, he seems poised to lose it, at least according to recent polls.

Finally, it is unclear if France and the rest of the EU would wait for these political shenanigans. And even if the EU would wait, it would only be if the UK agrees by April 12 to hold EU parliament elections. That has not happened yet.

What's Next

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Key Question

That useful diagram is from the BBC.

The key question that "Avid Remainers" consistently miss is "Will Theresa May Accept the Plan?"

It is not clear how many proposals there will be but it is thought supporters of a "softer Brexit" than the PM's deal will look to join forces and combine elements of separate proposals to try and broker a compromise.

However, any plan including a customs union will require more Conservative support than it has hitherto enjoyed and the government has explicitly ruled out the idea up to now.

A motion calling for any deal approved by Parliament to be endorsed by the public in a confirmatory referendum is expected to return in some form. 268 MPs voted for it last time although, again, the majority of Tories and many Labour MPs remain opposed.


The BBC's political correspondent Alex Forsyth said if a majority of MPs ended up backing either a customs union or referendum on Monday, senior government sources aren't ruling out the idea of a run-off, giving MPs a straight choice between that and the PM's Brexit plan.

The majority will not back a referendum. The referendum idea died many months ago if it was ever really in play in the first place.

The runnoff idea is yet another way May can force MV4.

My idea that May could head to Europe to discuss a customs union and purposely come back empty-handed is also in play.

Under that scenario, May would present Parliament with the choice of My Deal or No Deal on April 9 or 10.

Both cannot be ruled out making for MV5.

EU Prepares for No Deal

Meanwhile, the BBC reports EU Leaders Plan for No Deal as Other Options Dissolve.

EU leaders head into this weekend with a heavy heart. They know, in theory, that all Brexit options remain on the table and they haven't entirely given up hope of a negotiated UK departure, but there is little trust here that the prime minister or Parliament will manage to pull it off.

Despite all the drama, the money and time spent by EU leaders on Brexit over the last two years (summits, dedicated governmental departments, no-deal planning), all the hard, hard graft put in by the EU and UK negotiating teams, Europe's leaders are asking themselves what there is to show for it all.

Ongoing Brexit divisions in parliament, in government and in Theresa May's cabinet were on screaming technicolour display again last week.

EU leaders used to use the threat of a no-deal Brexit as a negotiating tactic (as did the UK). They now believe it to be a very real prospect. That has led to a number of countries - notably France - questioning the logic of delaying Brexit for much longer.

Final Days

Without another extension, for reasons the EU will accept, we are down to the final 11 days.

Say what you want of May, but give her credit for brilliantly running don the clock. She succeeded although the outcome is unknown.

Negotiating Too Good a Deal

If no-deal is the result, don't blame May entirely. She was a terrible negotiator, but this was a joint effort.

If anything, one can blame the EU more for insisting on provisions that the UK ultimately would not go along with.

No-deal is a fantastic opportunity for the UK. Yes, there will be some short-term pain, but the benefits will be lasting.

For further discussion, please see Forcing MV4: Binary Choice vs Conspiracy Theories and Accidents.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock