British parliament to hold vote on Brexit extension to cap off chaotic three days

British parliament to hold vote on Brexit extension to cap off chaotic three days

British lawmakers will return to parliament for their third Brexit vote in three days today—this time to decide whether to

brexit extension vote

Photo: PA Graphics

British lawmakers will return to parliament for their third Brexit vote in three days today—this time to decide whether to ask the EU for an extension to the March 29 deadline.

The last two days have been among the most chaotic in the Brexit process. On Tuesday, parliament resoundingly defeated Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal. On Wednesday, lawmakers voted to reject a no-deal Brexit.

If parliament votes in favour of a Brexit extension today, Ms May must then ask the EU for approval—likely at the European Council meeting on March 21. An approval requires unanimous agreement among the remaining 27 EU states; just how long of an extension will be given is uncertain.

A short extension of three months or less is the most likely outcome. Beyond this, things get complicated. A new European Parliament will sit on July 2 and Britain has not been allocated any seats in this assembly. Some legal experts have argued that Britain could remain an EU member and not have any MEPs, but this is contentious.

If an extension is not granted, Britain has two choices: revoke article 50 and remain in the EU indefinitely or crash out of the EU with no deal. Both options are likely to spark widespread protests, although remaining in the EU will be perceived as a usurpation of democracy by pro-Brexiteers and carries a higher risk of social unrest.

An extension of the March 29 deadline remains the most likely outcome. Just what Theresa May’s government can realistically accomplish in this additional time is unknown.

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