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meaningful vote

All eyes are on Westminster again, but what can Theresa May do if her vote fails?

Warning: this article contains a lot of ifs and buts.

WHAT EXACTLY IS in store for British Prime Minister Theresa May, during the week where her Brexit Withdrawal Agreement comes before the House of Commons?

On Tuesday, 639 MPs will vote on whether to approve or reject Theresa May’s Brexit deal on the terms upon which they will leave the European Union (there are 650 MPs, but four don’t vote and seven Sinn Féin MPs don’t take their seats in Westminster).

The vote was first scheduled to be held before Christmas, on Tuesday 11 December, but was cancelled because Theresa May didn’t have the support to pass her deal. 

She needs the support of 320 MPs: the Tories have 315 elected members, and the support of 10 DUP MPs. But after over 100 MPs voted against her during the motion of confidence in December, it looks likely that her Brexit deal won’t pass next week.

If it doesn’t pass, the options are both endless and equally implausible: further negotiations; extending Article 50; a general election or a Tory leadership challenge; a second referendum or a no-deal Brexit have all been floated as possible scenarios.

And Theresa May won’t have much time to choose one of these options either – an amendment voted for earlier this week means that she will have just three days to come back to the House of Commons with a new plan.

If the vote fails, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has threatened to table a motion of no confidence in the government, which could make the decision for May if she loses that as well.

Meanwhile, the UK is still scheduled to leave the European Union on 29 March. In Brussels, the President of the European Central Bank Mario Draghi will present its annual report to EU lawmakers in Strasbourg, of which Brexit will be among the issues discussed.

The vote on the Withdrawal Agreement is scheduled to take place from 7pm onwards on Tuesday evening.

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