Brexit: What could happen next?

PUBLISHED: 19:49 06 September 2019 | UPDATED: 19:55 06 September 2019

Steve Bray with anti-Brexit protesters in Westminster. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA.

Steve Bray with anti-Brexit protesters in Westminster. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA.

PA Wire/PA Images

With a law to stop a no-deal Brexit set to gain royal assent, and opposition parties refusing to support a general election, what could happen next?

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- A general election is triggered on September 9

The government has tabled another motion under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act on Monday which seeks to trigger an early general election.

Boris Johnson failed in his bid to do the same earlier in the week, but he could have better luck now the bill to delay Brexit looks set to receive Royal Assent.

However, Labour, the Lib Dems, SNP and Plaid Cymru are all understood to be planning on voting against or abstaining from the vote - making it very tricky for the PM to achieve the required two-thirds majority.

- MPs back a general election after parliament returns

Parliament is due to be prorogued next week, but MPs could agree to head to the polls after it has returned on October 14.

Labour may table a motion of no confidence in the government in a bid to achieve this, or the government may have another go with the Fixed-term Parliaments Act.

There is little doubt in Westminster that an election is imminent, but it is unclear when the opposition will agree the time is right to head to the polls - and they may want to wait until a Brexit extension has been secured.

- Boris Johnson triggers a no confidence motion in his own government

If opposition MPs refuse to back any Government moves to force an election, Johnson may make the extraordinary decision to trigger a confidence motion in his own administration.

He would effectively be daring opposition politicians to back him, and hoping that no other potential governments emerged which could command a majority in the Commons - running the risk of a caretaker government taking power.

If a new government cannot be formed within 14 days, parliament would be dissolved and an early general election triggered.

- Boris Johnson asks Brussels for a delay to Brexit

Assuming cross-party legislation receives royal assent and becomes law, Johnson would be legally bound to seek a delay to Brexit if there is not a deal in place by October 19.

But on Thursday the PM said he would rather be "dead in a ditch" than ask for a further delay.

- The prime minister resigns

Even more extreme perhaps than triggering a no confidence motion, Mr Johnson could resign to save face and avoid having to go to Brussels to ask for a delay to Brexit.

On Friday the prime minister declined to rule out quitting office if he fails to deliver Brexit on the current deadline, saying it was "not a hypothesis I'm willing to contemplate".

- MPs back Theresa May's final Brexit deal

In a surprise move, the legislation to delay Brexit to prevent a no-deal next month was amended in the Commons to pave the way for MPs to vote on May's final Brexit deal.

Labour MP Stephen Kinnock's amendment was approved after tellers for those voting against the amendment were not put forward during voting.

May's final offer, the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, emerged from cross-party talks earlier this year, but was never put before parliament because she was ousted as Tory leader.

Downing Street has insisted it has no plans to bring the Agreement to the Commons for a vote, but backbenchers could try to find a way to vote on it in an effort to leave the EU with a deal at the end of October.

- Boris Johnson secures a deal at the European Council summit

The PM has repeatedly insisted that he believes he can get a new or amended deal with the EU at the European Council summit on October 17, and deliver Brexit with a deal later that month.

However, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has reportedly claimed that there is a "state of paralysis" in talks with the UK - casting doubt on whether an agreement that would be accepted by parliament could be reached.

Additional reporting by PA.

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