One thing is certain: today, 29 March is not the long-expected divorce date. The European Council decided last week to delay Brexit until 22 May if the House of Commons passes the Brexit deal in the coming days, or delay Brexit until 12 April if no deal passes, in which case Prime Minister Theresa May has to indicate the way forward and decide if the UK is participating in the EU elections, which will be necessary if the UK asks for a longer extension.
This week May hoped to finally pass her Brexit deal in the House of Commons, especially because time is running out and patience of the British people too. However, the week started badly for May as she even lost control over the possible Brexit scenarios as the Members of Parliament (MPs) voted to back an amendment that grabs control of the parliamentary agenda.
In this new chaos, the Speaker of the House John Bercow selected eight options to put to a vote on 27 March: a no–deal scenario, the UK remains within the common market, the UK becomes a member of EFTA, the UK stays a member of the customs union (the alternative Labour plan in which the UK would be closely aligned with the EU), revoke article 50, a second referendum and the Malthouse alternative (a new backstop, but no free trade agreement). However, MPs did not reach a majority on any of the options.
With no alternative plans, the only option at the moment seems to be the current deal of Theresa May. In this chaotic context she already offered to step aside as Prime Minister if her deal survives. May announced to push ahead with the third critical vote on Friday 29 March. MPs will only vote on the Withdrawal Agreement, not on the political declaration. May’s DUP partners already stated that they will block the deal, meaning the deal is expected to be voted down again So, why, one might wonder, put the deal to a vote anyway? One Cabinet Minister has the answer.