The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a quick look at the various scenarios now facing a crumbling May government, as the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement is forcing cabinet members to resign in rapid succession. The weekend ahead is fraught with uncertainty for the UK and its position within, or outside, the European Union.
If Theresa May’s ill-fated Brexit Withdrawal Agreement is eventually rejected this could trigger a vote of no confidence, snap elections or even a new referendum…
Here are six possible scenarios facing Theresa May and the UK (via The Guardian)…
1 Parliament blocks Theresa May’s draft withdrawal agreement and political declarations
May faces an enormous task to win parliamentary approval, given that Labour, the SNP, the DUP and 51 Tories have said they will not vote for it.
If the remaining 27 EU member states sign off the draft agreement on 25 November, the government will have to win over MPs at a crucial vote in early December.
If May loses the vote, she has 21 days to put forward a new plan. If she wins, she is safe for now.
2 May withdraws the current draft agreement
The prime minister could decide that she will not get the draft agreement through parliament and could seek to renegotiate with the EU.
This would anger Tory backbenchers and Brussels and would be seen as a humiliation for her government. It might spark a leadership contest too.
3 Extend article 50
May could ask the European council to extend article 50, giving her more time to come up with a deal that could be passed by parliament – at present, the UK will leave on 29 March 2019.
Such a request would not necessarily be granted. Some EU governments are under pressure from populist parties to get the UK out of the EU as soon as possible.
4 Conservative MPs trigger a vote of no confidence in the prime minister
If Conservative MPs believe May is no longer fit for office, they could trigger a no-confidence vote.
A vote could be held as soon as early next week. All Tory MPs would be asked to vote for or against their leader. If May wins, she cannot be challenged for at least 12 months. If she loses, there would be a leadership contest to decide who will become prime minister.
5 General election – three possible routes
If May fails to get support for the current deal, she could call a snap general election.
She would table a parliamentary vote for a general election that would have to be passed by two thirds of MPs. She would then set an election date, which could be by the end of January.
This is an unlikely option. May’s political credibility was severely damaged when she called a snap election in 2017, leading to the loss of the Conservative party’s majority.
Alternatively, a general election could be called if a simple majority of MPs vote that they have no confidence in the government. Seven Tory MPs, or all of the DUP MPs, would have to turn against the government for it to lose the vote, triggering a two-week cooling-off period. May would remain in office while MPs negotiate a new government.
Another route to a general election would be for the government to repeal or amend the Fixed-term Parliaments Act which creates a five-year period between general elections. A new act would have to be passed through both the Commons and the Lords – an unlikely scenario.
6 Second referendum
May could decide it is impossible to find a possible draft deal that will be approved by parliament and go for a people’s vote.
The meaningful vote could be amended to allow MPs to vote on whether the country holds a second referendum. It is unclear whether enough MPs would back a second referendum and May has ruled it out.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.