It has been *yet another* historic week in parliament.
Not only did the House of Commons deliver an astounding blow to Theresa May and her Brexit deal, with MPs voting the plan down 432 to 202, but just a day later the PM was forced to see off a no-confidence challenge to her government, tabled by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
But where does all the turmoil in Westminster leave the UK – and Brexit? Are we any closer to leaving the EU, or is it going to be scuppered by a deadlock in parliament? Will Theresa May still be prime minister this time next week?
Here’s everything you need to know.
Is Brexit Still Going To Happen?
It’s fair to say the state of May’s Brexit deal – which still includes the controversial Northern Irish backstop clause – looks pretty perilous.
The plan was rejected in the Commons by a whopping 230 votes – the largest defeat in history for a sitting government. May has now launched talks with opposition parties in a bid to find a last-minute compromise to break the current deadlock.
But – strange as it may seem – at the moment, the popularity of May’s deal will have no standing on whether Brexit actually happens.
Under Article 50, which the government triggered back in 2017, the UK will leave the EU at 11pm on March 29, regardless of whether a deal has been struck.
May herself said as much in the wake of her historic defeat, telling reporters on Wednesday: “The government’s policy is that we are leaving the European Union on the 29th of March.”
The EU would only extend the deal “if it was clear that there was a plan that was moving towards an agreed deal,” she added.
The Brexit train has left the station, folks.
Will There Be A Second Referendum?
Support has been building for a second referendum in recent days. On Thursday, senior Tory Remainer Sarah Wollaston told HuffPost UK she was throwing her weight behind a so-called People’s Vote, calling for a free vote for MPs on a fresh EU referendum.
It followed reports that some cabinet ministers had been pushing for the same thing.
But despite Wollaston’s amendment – which she said would reveal support for a people’s vote from “very, very many” ministers – a second referendum looks pretty unlikely at the moment.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has shown little enthusiasm for the idea, instead preferring to try and force a general election and get his party into power.
Meanwhile, a government document shared with opposition MPs during Brexit talks suggested it would take more than a year to organise another referendum.
However, the Electoral Commission – the independent body which regulates elections – said the government had not approached them about a People’s Vote.
Will There Be A General Election?
Okay, so a second referendum is unlikely. How about a general election?
It’s the option Corbyn has his heart set on. Despite losing this week’s confidence vote, the leader has made it clear he is ready to table multiple confidence motions in the hopes of forcing an election. (Here’s how that would work.)
Meanwhile, it was reported on Thursday that top civil servants had been told to draw up contingency plans for a snap general election as a way of ending the Brexit deadlock in parliament.
But – unfortunately for JC – an election is also pretty unlikely at present. As long as the DUP – the government’s confidence and supply partner – back May in confidence votes as they did on Wednesday, the government is likely to remain undefeated. This effectively puts a damper on Corbyn’s election dreams.
But, as we all know in these unprecedented times, all of this could change on the toss of a coin.
Good luck everyone – here’s to another action-packed week.