What Next For Brexit As Lawmakers Reject May’s Deal (Again)

Another loss for UK Prime Minister May means lawmakers are likely to push for a delay to the 29 March deadline. But ultimately, Parliament will still need to make a decision on which Brexit option to pursue. We wouldn't rule out a third meaningful vote in coming weeks, but in the end, we still think a softer Brexit has the highest chance of prevailing.

 Theresa May, UK Prime Minister

After another whirlwind day in Westminster, UK Prime Minister Theresa May has been defeated on her Brexit deal for the second time. Despite securing a series of legal reassurances from Brussels on Monday, these were not enough for the Attorney General to change his legal advice on the UK's ability to exit the contentious Irish backstop in future. That meant that many Democratic Unionist lawmakers (DUP) and pro-Brexit Conservatives decided not to back the deal for the second time, and in the end the government lost by almost 150 votes.

1. One way or another, an extension to the Article 50 period looks likely

So what next? Well, now that MPs have rejected May's deal, Parliament is likely to take greater control of the process over the next few days.

On Wednesday, lawmakers will get a say on whether they would prefer a 'no deal' scenario instead. Assuming the answer to that question is a resounding 'no', then that will tee up a vote on Thursday evening on whether to ask the EU for extra time, by applying for an extension to the two-year Article 50 process.

With only a matter of days to go now until 29 March, it seems likely that Parliament will back a delay, but there's still a big question mark over exactly how long it might last. The motion that UK lawmakers will vote upon is likely to specify a shorter time period, although a lot depends on the EU, who don't forget will need to unanimously approve an extension.

In the aftermath of Tuesday's vote, European Council President Tusk reiterated that a decent reason would be needed for doing so. That said, there is a sense that most leaders are fairly open to an extension, although a lot hinges on the European Parliamentary elections due to take place in late-May.

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