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No-deal still as likely as a People’s Vote is not

15. March 2019, 13:00 Uhr

So the Commons have spoken – yet not as unambigiously as so many commentators prematurely banking on the final prevention of a no-deal Brexit would have it. Not only is the postponement of Brexit approved by MPs yesterday evening a safe bet, but its eventual occurrence would also be far from guaranteeing an orderly Brexit (or even its retraction).

All now depends on the reaction of the EU27; its leaders, however, will grant an extension only if that helps to bring about a fresh mandate on the UK side to ratify the Withdrawal Agreement-as-is and then to amend the accompanying Political Declaration on the future relationship. Thus, in the likely event that MPs will vote against the Withdrawal Agreement a third time next week, the UK will face a rather strict condition by European leaders:

There definitely will be no extension to conduct yet another round of talks about a deal Brussels says is not up for renegotiation. Yet as to the demand of the EU to present an all-new approach to Brexit, there’s only one way to satisfy it: via a general election breaking the deadlock in Parliament. That’s why this turn of events is our base projection henceforth. By contrast, with regard to the current mood of the British electorate showing as many people preferring the extremes of a no-deal and of a second referendum, respectively, a People’s Vote wouldn’t meet the EU’s requirement of a clear-cut Brexit strategy by the UK – save for the option of retracting Brexit altogether.

If HM government as well as the Commons fail to satisfy the EU’s demands which will be presented as soon as next Thursday, it is all but inconceivable that the necessary unanimity for an extension to be granted is going to be reached – resulting in a no-deal Brexit by default.

That said, a general election in itself is far from certain to produce a majority in favour of softening or even overturning Brexit: Ever since the inception of “The Independent Group” [now re-named into “Change UK”, 4 Apr] intent on contesting seats, and Labour’s pivot towards a second referendum, the Conservatives’ lead in the polls has increased sizeably. The Tories, however, are the party tied most to the Brexit post: Were they to drop the project now, it would inevitably entail the official split of the party. To expect a brand-new approach to Brexit satisfying the expectations of EU leaders under these circumstances is, hence, far-fetched – to say the least.

[Photo by: derwiki, use under Creative Commons license CC0 1.0]