WORLD: What are May's Brexit options?
“There is no room whatsoever for renegotiation,” European commission president Jean-Claude Juncker told EU legislators in Strasbourg, France,
In London, May has delayed a vote in parliament to approve her Brexit deal in search of extra assurances from the EU that will win over deeply sceptical MPs. Britain cannot ratify any withdrawal agreement without parliament’s consent. What happens now?
The government has said it intends to hold a vote before January 21. But critics are already lining up to say that May will not be able to get enough from EU leaders to make MPs change their mind about a deal they say is flawed. By law, if the vote is held and the deal is rejected, ministers have 21 days to state how they intend to proceed.
The government has rejected suggestions it could seek to bypass parliament and proceed towards a no-deal exit. It has promised that MPs will get the chance to debate the next steps by January 21 whether there is a deal or not. May could resign as leader of the Conservative Party, triggering an internal contest to replace her without a general election. A long-running effort by some members of May’s own party to get rid of her could gain renewed impetus. If 48 out of 315 Conservative MPs want her to go, the party holds a leadership ballot. If she loses, there is an internal contest to replace her.
The opposition Labour Party could call a vote of no confidence in the government, seeking to take control of the country without holding an election.
If a majority of MPs vote against May’s government, Labour would have 14 days to prove, by a vote, that it could command a majority and form its own government.
If May’s government loses a confidence vote and Labour is unable to form a new government, an election is called. May could also call a general election herself if two-thirds of MPs in parliament agree to it. May has said that a general election is not in the national interest. The route to a second referendum on Brexit - or a People’s Vote - is unclear but would almost certainly require the backing of the government of the day.
With May dead set against a second referendum, and the opposition Labour Party not committed to one (but not ruling one out), a second referendum would need either a change in prime minister, a change in government, or an abrupt change in policy.