PM announces Brexit votes, as pressure mounts to avoid no-deal
After mounting pressure on the prime minister, including from her own ministers, she today announced a voting schedule to the House of Commons. If her deal doesn't get through parliament on 12 March, there will be a vote on whether to proceed without a deal. Failing that, the House can vote on an extension of Article 50.
Essentially, the prime minister announced three Brexit votes that will take place in March.
The first – that is, the 'meaningful vote' – is on 12 March, and this will be parliament's chance to decide on whether or not to accept Theresa May's withdrawal deal.
If this fails, there will be yet another vote the day after: this time, on whether or not MPs are willing to consent to a no-deal Brexit.
For those who asked for a statutory block of no-deal Brexit, this has the appearance of a concession, as there is only a vanishingly small likelihood that this would be voted through.
If – as would probably happen – parliament votes down no-deal, there will be one last vote on the following day: MPs will be asked, on 14 March, to vote on Article 50's extension.
Despite these concessions, May still made her overall ambition clear: "Let me be clear, I do not want to see Article 50 extended," adding, "Our absolute focus should be on working to get a deal and leaving on 29 March."
To make matters more complex still, Labour has officially shown serious consideration of a second EU referendum, in order "to avoid a damaging Tory Brexit."
While speaking to the prime minister today, Jeremy Corbyn said, "It's the height of irresponsibility for any government to threaten its citizens with these consequences. Rule out no deal, extend Article 50, but do it today. This should not be left until the middle of March".
Far from adding certainty to the situation, today has left even more options on the table. Parliament has succeeded in asserting its authority – in what way this will be exercised is not yet clear.