Brexit: The way forward from the ‘Second Meaningful Vote’

World Today

Pro-Brexit activists march outside the Houses of Parliament in central London on February 27, 2019. – Prime Minister Theresa May will today face a vote by MPs over her newly revised Brexit strategy, which allows for a possible request to delay Britain’s EU departure if her divorce deal is not approved. (Photo by Tolga AKMEN / AFP)

British Prime Minister Theresa May is traveling to France for last-ditch Brexit talks with EU leaders. She’s trying to secure backing for a revised deal, ahead of a vote Tuesday in Parliament.

But, already, indications are that the deal will be rejected. What does that mean as a deadline nears for Britain’s EU exit? CGTN’s Gerald Tan reports.

Britain’s divorce from the European Union is set to become official at 11PM British time on March 29. But there are different paths leading to that deadline.

First up: Tuesday, March 12. In what’s called the ‘Second Meaningful Vote,’ Parliament will weigh in on Prime Minister Theresa May’s revised Brexit deal. If it passes, then Brexit happens under the terms of that deal. Should it fail, Parliament reconvenes the next day, Wednesday, March 13, to vote on whether it can still exit the EU on time but with NO deal.

A no-deal Brexit means ties are severed and there’s no transition period, and no agreements to guide relations with remaining EU countries. Citizens won’t be guaranteed rights of residence either, making the future uncertain for the many Britons living across the continent, and Europeans in the U.K.

If that No-Deal Brexit gets rejected, then another vote takes place on Thursday, March 14, to determine if the March 29 date can be delayed. And that would mean Prime Minister May going back to EU leaders to request an extension to Article 50, something she sees as a last resort.

Speaking to Parliament, May said, “Let me be clear, I do not want to see Article 50 extended. Our absolute focus should be on working to get a deal and leaving on 29 March. An extension beyond the end of June would mean the UK taking part in the European Parliament elections. What kind of message would that send to the more than 17 million people who voted to leave the EU nearly three years ago now.”

May added that if Brexit is delayed, it would be a one-off event. Still, any extension would require the unanimous consent of the 27 other EU members. And the big question remains: would even a new timetable be enough for the parties to hammer out a deal acceptable to all?