Stories by Peter Kellner

Expert Voices

Failed deal spells uncertainty for Brexit and May's long-term survival

Political artist Kaya Mar stands with his painting depicting Prime Minister Theresa May playing a violin outside Millbank Studios in Westminster on January 16, 2019 in London, England.
Political artist Kaya Mar with his painting in London, England. Photo: Jack Taylor via Getty Images

The U.K. Parliament has rejected the government’s Brexit plans, in a sweeping 432–202 vote. The development plunges U.K. politics into crisis: While there’s a clear majority against the government’s plans, there’s no evident majority in favor of a specific alternative.

Why it matters: If Parliament cannot agree on what to do next, the U.K. will by default crash out of the EU without a deal. This could do immense damage to the U.K.'s economy, potentially taking as much as a 10.7% hit to the country’s GDP.

Expert Voices

Delayed Brexit vote forestalls near certain defeat for May's plan

Theresa May getting out of a car
U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May outside Downing Street. Photo by Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

Faced with almost certain rejection, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May delayed a parliamentary vote on Monday on her plans for leaving the EU. To win over MPs, she is now seeking to amend the deal, in particular the complex arrangements concerning the future of the border between the U.K. and Ireland — the only land border between the U.K. and the rest of the EU.

The big picture: EU leaders have made clear that the 585-page withdrawal agreement cannot be changed. All May can expect is a side letter containing a legally meaningless “clarification,” which will satisfy very few, if any, MPs in London. Whenever she calls the vote, she is likely to face a heavy parliamentary defeat.

Expert Voices

What could happen if the Brexit negotiations break down

British Prime Minister Theresa May finishes speaking to the media as she arrives for the October summit of European Union leaders on October 18, 2018.
British Prime Minister Theresa May finishes speaking to the media at the October summit of European Union leaders on October 18, 2018, in Brussels, Belgium. Photo: Sean Gallup via Getty Images

Wednesday’s summit of European leaders, which followed another meeting last month, failed to produce a breakthrough in the Brexit talks. If the negotiations fall apart, it could precipitate a major crisis for Britain’s government and Parliament.

The big picture: If the March 29, 2019, withdrawal date comes without an agreement on the day-to-day U.K.–EU relationship, MPs would urgently seek a way to resolve the crisis. All potential solutions are likely to involve a U.K. request to delay withdrawal, with a new referendum being the most likely outcome.

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