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Sunder Katwala @sundersays
, 23 tweets, 5 min read Read on Twitter
A scenario/theory: Britain to leave the European Union, with the Withdrawal Agreement deal, but slightly (about 4-6 weeks)
after the current March 29th 2019 deadline.

How this might happen ...
Jan 15th Commons vote proceeds. Government is defeated. Lets say its about 240 votes to 400 (majority 160). Opposition united against (bar a handful). Some opposition MPs explain they oppose both no deal & a referendum but are voting no with the Labour whip to this deal now.
PM says deal still in national interest: no alternatives to it. Labour calls for election: DUP says support govt on confidence. ERG declares confidence in gvt (calling for no deal). Pro-EU Cons confidence (call for referendum)
* Conf vote not put, or is survived. Majority 6-10.
* Editorials call for crossparty talks.
* various backbench alliances float plans, each backed by some gvt ministers
- back deal, with referendum
- WA, with Norway+CU declaration
- managed no deal package.

* we reach Feb with outcome no clearer than on eve of Jan 15th vote.
Plan of indicative Commons votes to seek a resolution adopted.

Commons votes against No Deal by 500; it remains the default

Most media/political focus is on Labour's position on a referendum.

But (for one reason/another) in this scenario, no majority for a referendum either.
Eg: Corbyn dramatically backs a referendum, but still loses eg 305 votes to 315 (About 20 Cons votes for but 12 Labour against + 12 abstentions).

Eg: Labour whips to abstain on a referendum which gets 200 votes & so loses heavily (despite > 100 Labour MPs & 30 Cons backing it)
PM continues to insist there's no alternative to her deal, except no deal. Increasing pressure on Labour to abstain if it is put again

But opposition plays chicken with PM, suggesting she resign, call an election or revoke Article 50 if her negotiation has failed

Its March 1st.
No deal now seems most likely outcome, despite 550 votes against it. Various schemes to prevent are floated yet again.

Clock is ticking.

If the deal is not ratified by March 29th, it can't be made under the Article 50 rules. (Much slower national ratification process)
Govt keeps talking to EU27, to DUP and to backbenchers. Editorials call for crossparty talks. Not officially: backbench alliances float various schemes: a Norway deal; the deal with a referendum; managed no deal.

We may enter February with the outcome as unclear as on 14/1
A surprise development, which many had said would not happen.

At Ireland's suggestion, the EU27 Council unaninimously agrees to offer the UK a 6 week one-off time-limited extension to Article 50.

But strict conditions are attached to this ...
This March 1st extend A50 offer
* No renegotiation of WA legal text (but time to sign & ratify it). Limited opportunity to amend political dec
* No possibility of more short extension (UK would legally hold Euro elections)
* but 12 month extension if UK gvt proposes UK referendum
Some ERG members argue it would be a trap & humiliation to delay Brexit. But there is overwhelming Commons crossparty support for govt to take this extension - despite several different views about what this development means.
* May says better to leave with deal in May than March without: "a delayed deal is better than no deal".
* Corbyn: Customs Union should be negotiated
* Boris says shows we can renegotiate the whole deal after all.
* others that its space to mitigate & manage 'no deal deals'
Referendum advocates want the 12 month extension, not the 6 week one.

But there are 550 votes for the short extension, once the offer was made.

Now, what to do with it?
No renegotiation proves possible.

As Commons meets after Easter, May's argument that its the Deal or No Deal is harder to challenge than in Jan

Labour debates abstaining on deal, or supporting 12 month option. It abstains. But will not rule out a referendum to Return in 2021.
* No guarantee EU27 would make this move. (Bad idea to signal its possibility in advance).
* Logically, makes sense if Deal is better than No Deal, & if EU Council wants to keep power to make the deal (which dissolves on 29/3).
* EP timeline prevents rolling deadline extensions
If UK might take deal, as reluctant last resort on second vote, with both frontbenchers playing political brinkmanship then maybe that could happen in overtime (Say April 11th-18th, not January 15th). But this is only legally possible if A50 gets extended before March 29th.
It would obvs make much more sense to hold that April 16th vote (not in UK's gift) in mid-Feb or early March

If one applies my new "Brexit Indecision Rule" that any decision that can be deferred will be delayed, this seems to me to be the very latest feasible timeline to decide!
* I think "Reluctant (maybe delayed) Deal" still more likely than no deal (mainly because opposition seems able to prevent no deal unless chooses not to).

* Could happen with less brinkmanship (but not clear who wants to organise that).

* alternative: Delay/referendum majority
This scenario was in response to @robfordmancs new year prediction that the votes for a deal might coalesce just after the deadline.

That requires a short extension to be legally possible. This is a version of how/why that might happen.

Whenever the decision is made, there are now 3 options (Deal, Delay, No Deal).

But about 300 MPs have yet to choose between those options.

If you think UK will leave EU without a deal, you can quadruple your £, as @LadPolitics offer 3/1 against that happening before April 1st. (But you'd lose if something like this extend gambit happened, but failed, so we left without a deal in April/May).

* The "article 50" extension here is a Deus ex Machina plot device, to show the logic of one possibility that most observers have ruled out
* Similar logic for events of January/February seems likely to apply; a working assumption that March 29th deadline will stick is sensible.
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