What will MPs be voting on tomorrow?
THERESA MAY brings back to the Commons her latest version of the Brexit deal negotiated with the European Union, having suffered a parliamentary record 230-vote defeat in January. Critics say it is likely to differ little, especially on the contentious arrangements for a Northern Ireland ‘backstop’ on the Irish border which could keep Britain in a form of customs union with the EU for an indefinite period. Mrs May and ministers, including attorney-general Geoffrey Cox, have been trying to secure binding guarantees on when Britain could remove itself from the backstop.
Will the prime minister be beaten again?
Some Conservative backbench critics on both the Leave and Remain sides appear to have been wavering but, in a joint article in The Sunday Telegraph yesterday, DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds and Steve Baker — deputy chairman of the hardline pro-Brexit Tory alliance, the European Research Group — predicted another three-figure loss for the government.
What happens if MPs once more vote against?
MPs would then have to hold two more Commons votes on Wednesday and Thursday: one giving them the chance to rule out leaving with no-deal and the other calling for an extension to Britain’s scheduled departure from the EU on March 29. If she loses tomorrow night, Mrs May could pre-empt those votes by announcing she will herself be asking Brussels for more time.
Will the votes definitely go ahead?
Some weekend speculation suggested the prime minister could yet call off this latest ‘meaningful vote’, looking for more time for her to thrash out details with Brussels ahead of a delayed Commons showdown as late as the deadline set of March 25. This would give MPs just four days to back leaving the EU as scheduled, risk no-deal or else demand Brexit be delayed.
Will the EU agree to an extension?
EU leaders, such as chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier and France’s president Emmanuel Macron, have made little secret of their impatience with Britain and reluctance to offer any further concessions, and may well insist on strict conditions and demands if allowing any further time for talks, whether three months or as much as a year.