With exactly three weeks until the UK is set to leave the European Union, a series of major Brexit Parliamentary votes are set to take place next week.
Starting on Tuesday 12 March, Prime Minister Theresa May will put forward her new and revised ‘meaningful vote’ to the House of Commons – just two months after her historic defeat in January.
Leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom confirmed the PMs vote would go ahead for Tuesday, kickstarting a historic week for the Brexit process that could see Article 50 extended, modified, or a call for a second referendum.
The original meaningful vote by Theresa May was defeated by 432 votes to 202 in mid January.
Next week’s 12 March vote is expected to return similar results.
MPs will vote from around 7.30pm, and the results are likely to be returned ten minutes later.
If the PMs meaningful vote fails, a vote on whether to go ahead with a no-deal Brexit will take place the day after – 13 March.
If MPs vote in favour of a no-deal Brexit, the UK will part ways from the EU without any trade deals or formal citizenship processes – though talks are ongoing to concrete citizen rights abroad.
This would likely disrupt food and medicine supplies, cause unprecedented gridlock at Dover and surrounding areas, and may lead to civil unrest in major cities like London, Manchester and Glasgow – of which Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain part of the EU but is bound by UK Parliamentary actions.
The wording of the vote – and even if the Government would feel comfortable removing such a major option from Brexit negotiations just 16 days before 29 March – is still unknown.
It’s believed a majority of the House of Commons will reject a no-deal Brexit, but there hasn’t been a vote similar to it in Parliament’s history.
Some government ministers, including Amber Rudd, have threatened to resign their position to protest this.
If both the meaningful vote and no-deal votes fail in the Commons, MPs will vote on whether an extension to Article 50 – the UK leaving the EU – will be required in order to make more time to secure a deal before any exit takes place.
This will be voted for on the 14 March, likely on the Thursday evening.
If MPs vote for an extension, there is no telling whether the EU would accept it – as the UK is still a member of the EU, such major changes to the Article 50 process require unanimous approval from all 27 member states of the EU.
An extension may be seen by Leave voters across the country as a betrayal of the original referendum, making it extremely difficult to support for some MPs who rely on their constituency vote. Amendments may be tabled by pro-Remain MPs, asking for the extension to be used to hold another referendum.
There are fears that if an extension is voted for in the House of Commons, some Leave supporters could call for a protest, rioting, or even violence – though police and military are already planning for such events.