A Messy Brexit Explained

Under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, if the Commons refuses to approve ‘the deal’, the government must, within 21 days, ‘set out how Her Majesty’s government proposes to proceed’ and seven days later place a motion before Parliament for it to approve or reject its plan.

Under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, if the Commons refuses to approve ‘the deal’, the government must, within 21 days, ‘set out how Her Majesty’s government proposes to proceed’ and seven days later place a motion before Parliament for it to approve or reject its plan.

Under section 2 of the Fixed-Term Parliament Act 2011, if a government loses a vote of confidence, then unless the House of Commons finds confidence in a new government within 14 days. A general election shall be called, to take place six weeks later.

Under Conservative party leadership rules, if 48 Tory MPs submit letters of no confidence in the party leader, a no confidence vote in her shall be held. If this is passed, they will then vote twice a week until the field of contenders is ‘whittled down’ to two, with the final decision being made by a postal ballot of all members.

Is it possible that all three of these processes could happen simultaneously in a perfect political storm? Well, they could all commence together, but if the Conservatives had no effective leader, it is hard to see how any residual government could comply with the Withdrawal Act or regain confidence of the Commons. Any Brexit Betrayal, whether by means of the ‘vassal state’ deal, a ‘Breyref2’ losers’ vote or ‘the Norway option’ – by which is meant the public voting to leave and being effectively ignored by their legislators - would require a functioning Parliament and a government.

Theresa may now be too weak to fail. Terrible as she is, Tory MPs are highly unlikely to vote to go leaderless and manifesto-less into a general election campaign, and the DUP may well prop her up her rather than have an IRA cheerleader in Number 10. While she sits behind that door, like the final minutes of a horror movie, her treachery remains dangerous.  

The good news is that under the present UK and EU law ‘No deal’ (WTO) Brexit on 29 March is the default option. Absent an unexpected outbreak of honesty, democracy and public service, the best the nation can hope for from this omnishambles of a Parliament is that, punch drunk with its Brexit brawling, it may yet prove too dysfunctional to prevent the UK staggering out of the open door to freedom.

 

Paul Ellis, Legal Spokesman, For Britain  

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