The way Brexit plays out in 2019 depends on whether MPs accept or reject Theresa May’s draft deal, when they vote on it in December 2018. Here’s how things could pan out after that.
If they accept the deal, it will progress through Parliament before being ratified by the EU. Under Mrs May’s plan, this would need to happen before Brexit day on 29 March, 2019.
After this date, the UK would cease to be a member of the EU. From 30 March, a Transition Period would begin and politicians would start trade negotiations for the future relationship between the UK and EU. They’d have until the end of 2020 to reach this trade deal, although they’d have the option of extending the Transition Period if need be. But if they fail to reach a trade deal, that’s where the controversial “backstop” arrangements kick in.
However, a second scenario would see MPs demanding a second referendum or a general election. If that happened, Brexit day would have to be postponed, so that there’s enough time. Of course, many Brexiteers would be angry if Brexit was delayed. But in technical terms at least, it’s still a possibility. A referendum or general election could have wildly different implications for Brexit, ranging from No Deal to cancelling Brexit altogether.
A third scenario is that MPs reject Mrs May’s deal outright in December – potentially forcing the EU and UK back to the negotiating table. Although they are unlikely to make any major changes to the deal, it’s possible they could do enough to persuade Parliament to support it.
However, if MPs do not accept any deal in time for Brexit day (and if the deadline isn’t postponed) this leaves a final scenario: the UK leaves the EU on 29 March without a deal.
December is an important month for Brexit.
Currently, the House of Commons is debating Theresa May’s draft Brexit deal, which was published in November. When this debate ends on December 11, MPs will hold a “meaningful vote” on the deal. They will either approve it, reject it, or amend it. Amendments could include demanding a second referendum or a general election.
After this, an EU Summit is scheduled for the 13th and 14th of December. This could go one of two ways, depending on how the vote goes in Parliament. If Theresa May wins the vote without any major concessions, the subsequent EU Summit might be fairly free of Brexit chaos. But if the deal is rejected by Parliament (or loads of amendments are made), then UK and EU negotiators might have to resume their talks.