How Brexit week could play out: Votes, deals and elections
Updated 12:24, 01-Apr-2019
By John Goodrich
The latest week of crunch Brexit votes in the UK parliament is set to unfold with the government's agreement, a softer option, no exit, no-deal or an election still very much on the agenda.
The next few days promise to be especially difficult for Prime Minister Theresa May, who has indicated a willingness to call an election if a solution is not found this week – but is facing an outcry from her Conservative Party whichever route she pursues.
MPs have rejected the withdrawal agreement, so what's next? /CGTN Photo

MPs have rejected the withdrawal agreement, so what's next? /CGTN Photo


Indicative votes return for a second round as MPs search for an alternative to May's deal. None of the eight options put to parliament last week won a majority, but there were signs of support for a softer Brexit.
Monday's non-binding votes are on tweaked versions of the most popular options proposed in round one, including permanent membership of a customs union, a Common Market 2.0 proposal and a confirmatory referendum, plus new alternatives such as a right to exit the Irish backstop unilaterally and a referendum to prevent a no-deal exit.
If one of the options wins a majority, MPs will try to pass legislation forcing the government to negotiate it with the European Union.
As ever, how parties direct their MPs to vote will be central to the result. In the first round of indicative votes, Cabinet ministers abstained. Movement from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) – which has been in talks over a softer Brexit – and the Scottish Nationalist Party – which has to date backed a second referendum – could also be pivotal.  
If a majority is found, May will be in the awkward position of being asked to negotiate an approach she previously ruled out – and would likely split her Conservative Party. 


May could try to pass her deal with the EU in a fourth attempt, using a procedural measure to circumvent Speaker John Bercow's ruling that only a changed motion can be brought back.
If she held the vote before a favored indicative vote was legislated on, her deal would supersede any other option. The government could also pit May's deal against the favored indicative choice.
A victory for May's deal would take Britain closer to an orderly exit on May 22.
Another defeat would spell the end of the agreement, unless she attached the withdrawal agreement to a plan for a softer future relationship. However, to do so would open a new can of worms, with around 170 Conservative MPs having signed a letter urging a no-deal exit if the deal is not passed. 
May's deal remains unpopular but has lost by decreasing majorities, going down by 58 last week after losses of 230 and 149. 
By normal standards 58 would be a big defeat for a government, but if the prime minister can hold on to last week's supporters and swing the DUP her way there is a chance she can win the 30 extra votes needed – particularly if the other options are an election or softer Brexit.


What happens on Wednesday depends on Monday and Tuesday.
If May's deal is rejected again, the prime minister will probably have to choose between a general election and negotiating a softer Brexit. Both options would require a long Brexit delay along with Britain's participation in the European Parliament elections, and would split her party.
If MPs find a majority via Monday's indicative vote process, on Wednesday they will probably try to pass legislation forcing the government to negotiate that option with the EU. To prevent this, May would probably have to call a vote on an election before that legislation was passed.
Many Conservative MPs are opposed to an election – particularly with May at the top of the ticket, and with the party trailing Labour by five points in a Deltapoll on Sunday – and could vote against holding one. A two-thirds majority is required for the government to force a poll. However, the opposition Labour Party could also call a vote of no-confidence which only requires a simple majority to pass.
Either option would only be viable if the EU granted another delay, and the default, if nothing is settled earlier, remains a no-deal exit on April 12.