MPs will vote on the proposed Brexit deal, agreed by the UK and the EU, on 11 December. If they reject it then a lot of different things could happen.
The EU Withdrawal Act, passed by Parliament in June, sets out some rules. The government would have to produce a new plan of action within 21 days and then allow a further vote within another seven sitting days in the House of Commons.
However, the government could act much more quickly than that. And it’s possible that political events would transform the situation.
There are a number of possible outcomes if MPs fail to back the deal – but here are six of the most likely ones:
- no deal
- a second vote on a deal
- a major renegotiation
- a general election
- a vote of no confidence
- another referendum
Following a government defeat in the Commons on Tuesday, MPs would now have more say in proposing alternatives to any plan of action – but these would still have to be put into law by the government.
1. No deal
If nothing else happens, the default position would be a no-deal Brexit. The law is already in place which means the UK will leave the EU on 29 March 2019. And, in any case, EU rules mean the UK would leave then.
The government would probably want to pass some legislation to prepare for no-deal but that’s not strictly essential.
If MPs aren’t happy with the plan they could try to put pressure on the government to change its mind. Their ultimate sanction, if the government wouldn’t budge, would be a vote of no confidence – see section five below.
2. Second vote on the deal
It’s been suggested that the government could try to bring back the deal for another attempt to get it through.
That’s not completely straightforward because there’s a principle that MPs shouldn’t be asked to vote twice on the same issue during a single session of Parliament.
However, if the government could persuade the EU to make some change to the deal – perhaps a tweak to the non-binding political declaration element – it could be brought back.
The Clerk of the House of Commons has also said the normal rule could be ignored if it “plainly was the will of the house” to overturn its previous vote.
So it’s possible that the deal,