Last week the House of Commons provided a clear majority against leaving without a deal.
The position now is that the legal default in UK and EU law remains that the UK will leave the EU without a deal unless something else is agreed.
The options before the House are
- To leave with the deal which Government has negotiated over the past two years.
- To leave with the deal we have negotiated but subject to a second referendum which was also defeated in the House last week. That would risk no Brexit at all, damaging the fragile trust between the British public and the members of this House as around 80% stood for election on manifestos to deliver Brexit and subsequently voted for Article 50.
- To seek to negotiate a different deal. However, the EU have been clear that the deal on the table is indeed the only deal available.
The House has declined to approve leaving without a deal on 29 March 2019 but if the House finds a way in the coming days to support a deal, it would allow the Government to seek a short limited technical extension to Article 50 to provide time to pass the necessary legislation and ratify the agreement we have reached with the EU. I supported that course of action because it seems to me that is the only way to deliver Brexit, put in place the required legislation and deliver a withdrawal which safeguards to the greatest degree jobs, businesses and the economy.
However a short technical extension to the Article 50 date is only likely to be on offer if we have a deal in place and if all the 27 other countries in the EU unanimously approve such an extension.
If a deal is not passed in the coming days, and the House is not willing to support leaving without a deal on 29 March, then the EU is suggesting that there will need to be a much longer extension to Article 50. Such an extension would undoubtedly require the United Kingdom to hold European Parliament elections in May 2019 which I do not currently favour.
Due to the high volume of correspondence please refer to my website for all future updates.