Prime Minister Theresa May is heading into the battle of a political lifetime next week as she asks Parliament to vote on her Brexit deal. After two years of negotiations, the deal was finally thrashed out with the EU last month. But the draft has been widely ill-received, with critics from all across the political spectrum insisting they won’t approve the deal.
What happens if the vote is rejected?
The draft needs a minimum of 318 votes to pass – the graph below shows simply what could happen in both cases.
Let’s look a bit deeper at what could happen in the event of a ‘no’ vote:
First up, the government will have three weeks maximum to come back to Parliament with another plan of action.
The possible outcomes:
1) Extension to Article 50
If the government decides to go back to the EU to try and re-negotiate, Article 50 will need to be extended.
This would be a long, complicated process, as the EU has said this is the only deal they are willing to offer.
But, if it happens, Mrs May would then have to begin again and try to get the new deal through Parliament once more.
2) Second referendum
MPs might suddenly shift in large numbers towards the idea of another referendum to break the Parliamentary impasse and open the possibility of stopping Brexit.
At the moment, about eight Tory and 44 Labour MPs have publicly committed to another referendum.
Theresa May is dead set against another referendum and it’s hard to see an alternative Tory leader picking up that baton.
However, a second referendum can only happen if the government brings forward legislation to hold one and a majority in the Commons supports it.
This would also require an extension to Article 50 as we’d need time for this all to play out.
READ MORE: How healthcare and the NHS will suffer, deal or no deal
3) No confidence in May/General election
Holding another general election isn’t really a solution to a no vote, but it might be an inevitability.
“If it is voted down, is that a vote of no-confidence in May?” Professor Alex De Ruyter, Director of Birmingham City University’s Centre for Brexit Studies, told Express.co.uk.
“It could well be. And that could lead to a vote of no confidence in the House.”
The worry here is, as we saw in the last general election where the Tories lost their overall majority, another election could further split an already divided parliament.
This is Labour’s preferred outcome to the deal being rejected, as they’d hope to have a chance as thrashing out a deal.
Again, this would all require an Article 50 extension.
4) Leave with no deal
While this is the preferred option of many Brexiteers, the sheer uncertainty of what is might look like is worrying many across the nation.
Another idea that has been floated is a “negotiated no deal” in the which the UK would ask the EU for a (paid) one-year extension of membership before leaving on World Trade Organisation terms.
Whatever the outcome, this vote will define the country’s future – and Theresa May’s.
Right now, it doesn’t look likely to pass. But as we know, the political mood can shift quickly, and things can be pulled out the bag at the last minute.