Brexit Day: what is actually happening?

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On the 29 March at 11 pm, the United Kingdom was set to leave the European Union after an excruciating two years of Brexit negotiations, resignations and political fallout.

But the UK won’t be leaving the EU today.

So what is actually happening with Brexit?

After securing a short extension period from the European Union, the UK will either leave on 22 May 2019, or 12 April 2019, depending on the outcome of votes held today.

If MP’s vote in favour of Prime Minister Theresa May’s ‘Withdrawal Agreement’ this evening, a sort of ‘Meaningful Vote Mark 2.5’, the United Kingdom will leave the EU on 22 May. While numbers are not looking good for the Government, with the DUP, Labour Party and a large swathe of Conservative MPs announcing they will vote against the PM’s agreement, Mrs May upped the ante on Wednesday.

In a statement to the 1922 Committee, she suggested that she would resign as Prime Minister when MP’s voted for her deal and when Brexit was delivered.

If the agreement is voted for today, and providing there can be political declarations or future votes passed on a deal, the UK will leave the EU with some sort of deal – if not, it is set for a no-deal Brexit on 22 May.

Alternatively, if the vote is rejected tonight, Brexit is set for 12 April. A second round of indicative votes will take place on Monday, with the Government hoping for a more decisive set of results than the eight ‘no’ votes returned on Wednesday.

If the result is clear for those votes, and providing Mrs May accepts the plans outlined, the Government will attempt to implement the decisions and a further extension is likely to be set.

If the results aren’t clear, or if the Prime Minister does not accept the result of the indicative votes on Monday, either further extensions will be applied to the Brexit process or the UK will leave without a deal on 12 April.

In the case extensions are granted in the Brexit process, it is likely the UK will be forced to participate in a new round of European Parliament elections – something the Government wanted to avoid, and something that would likely cause huge humiliation to those seeking a quicker Brexit.

In the long term, if extensions are sought, a number of things could happen, including a further vote on Mrs May’s deal (a Meaningful Vote 3), renegotiations with the European Union, another referendum may be held to measure a change in public opinion, a general election could be called, or the Prime Minister may decide to leave without a deal.

With extensions already agreed and with a crunch vote held tonight the Brexit process is far from over yet.

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