The Brexit countdown is ticking away despite the lack of action in Westminster – and with three weeks to go, a no deal split looks on the cards.
MPs just cannot stop squabbling about how unacceptable the deal on the table is, but after two years still cannot settle on an alternative.
The latest is European Union officials are frustrated at the lack of progress and warned Prime Minister Theresa May that if she can’t put forward a feasible alternative to the current agreement within 48 hours, there’s no time to change the wording that MPs will vote on next week.
Tuesday sees the second ‘meaningful’ vote in Westminster, but the word is May expects to lose by around 100 votes and may be planning a third vote a few days later.
All the while, the Brexit clock is counting down and precious little time is left to make a deal before the UK clocks out of Europe for the last time on March 29.
So what are the Brexit options?
MPs have three choices:
- Vote for May’s Brexit deal and leave the EU on March 29
- Reject her deal and leave on March 29 with no deal
- Delay Brexit to try and negotiate a better deal
May has turned down a delay, but could yet see her hand forced by MPs.
Best possible solution
“If the prime minister’s deal does not get approved on Tuesday then it is likely that the House of Commons will vote to extend the Article 50 procedure, to not leave the European Union without a deal, and where we go thereafter is highly uncertain,” said Chancellor Phillip Hammond.
“For those people who are passionate about ensuring that we leave the European Union on time it surely must be something that they need to think very, very carefully about now because they run risk of us moving away from their preferred course of action if we don’t get this deal through.”
French Europe minister Nathalie Loiseau reiterated the EU’s position that the withdrawal agreement cannot be reopened and said the deal was the “best possible solution” with the controversial Irish backstop a “last resort solution”.