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Where are we with Brexit?

image2 nov19

You might think it to be a perfectly simple and straight forward question. But nothing about the whole saga of Brexit seems to be that way – and the current situation appears little different.

But let’s take a stab at an answer in any case by looking at what media commentators are saying about where are we with Brexit.

What we do know …

As Sky News reminds us, Britain voted to leave the EU following the results of a referendum on the 23rd June 2016.

Provision was made for two years’ of negotiations about the terms of that exit, to be concluded on the 29th of March 2019. The Prime Minister throughout most of this period, Theresa May, agreed to a deal with the EU, but it failed on three attempts to win the approval of Parliament.

Those failures ultimately led to Theresa May's resignation from office, and a renewed deadline agreed with the EU of the 31st of October 2019.

She was succeeded as Prime Minister by Boris Johnson, who insisted that the renewed deadline of the 31st of October would be met – if necessary, on a “no-deal” basis.

But Parliament also passed a Bill designed to ensure the avoidance of Brexit on “no-deal” terms and incorporating an instruction to the Prime Minister that he seeks an extension of the 31st of October deadline.

Johnson has duly negotiated a revised deal with the EU and presented it to Parliament. The relevant Bill for Britain's exit from Europe has reached its second reading. However, Parliament still insisted that the Prime Minister request an extension from the European Union pending an exhaustive consideration of the drafted legislation. That extension has been granted, and the new deadline for Brexit is now the 31st of January 2020.

Despite this breathing space, however, the Prime Minister resolved to pause Brexit legislation and instead call a General Election, which is scheduled to be held on the 12th of December.

… and a step into the unknown

The road to Brexit has been paved with many steps into the unknown – as the global law firm Clyde & Co has described the process.

And – as at the time of writing – perhaps the biggest of these unknowns is the outcome of the General Election on the 12th of December.

The competing parties insist that the election is not a re-run of the decision on Brexit. But, instead, an opportunity to vote on the social and economic policies to be pursued by a new Government.

But, in a country marked by deep and often non-partisan divisions, Brexit remains the inescapable backdrop. As the BBC put it in a report on the 31st of October, the result of the General Election will determine what happens next on Brexit.

The outcome is one of the least predictable in recent years – and, with it, where we are with Brexit remains a massive unknown.

All options remain open:

  • the deal already negotiated by the Prime Minister might be passed into law;
  • a second referendum might be called – the option favoured by a loose coalition of so-called “remainers”;
  • a “no-deal” Brexit is the outcome if there is no definitive decision on reaching a deal before the revised deadline of the 31st of January; or
  • Brexit itself might be cancelled altogether if Article 50 is withdrawn under pressure from remainers.

Where are we with Brexit? The answer remains practically anyone's guess.

The data and information cited in this article are correct at the time of writing.

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