Brexit: What happens next? All the potential outcomes as talks enter ‘tunnel’ phase

EU leaders agreed on Friday to “intensify” Brexit talks with the UK, with the “tunnel” phase entered – essentially, the final crunch talks with all the main players. However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there was still “a way to go” before a deal could be reached, and there remains the very real possibility that talks could collapse in the next round.

So what might happen next?

As ever with Brexit, this is a question without a simple answer, as you can see in the diagram below.

All the potential outcomes depend on a knock-on effect: if a deal fails, then certain scenarios could happen, if it succeeds, a different set of events could play out.

But to get a sense of the broad possibilities facing the country, Express.co.uk has compiled the following two scenarios and how they could manifest.

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A deal is achieved

If a deal is agreed with the EU, the next hurdle is to get UK MPs to approve it in the House of Commons.

If they do, it will trigger race against the clock to get the deal ratified before the October 31 deadline.

There is a chance, if there isn’t enough time to ratify, the UK will ask for a short extension, with the EU will almost certainly grant and MPs will approve.

Then it’s just a case of signing on the dotted line and waiting for the clock to hit 11.01pm on October 31, when the UK will be officially out of the EU.

A deal is not achieved

If either the UK cannot agree a deal with the EU, or if MPs vote it down in the House of Commons, things are a bit less clear.

Under the Benn Act, the Prime Minister will have to go to the EU to request an extension to Article 50.

But there is speculation about whether Mr Johnson would comply with this law, or if the EU would even accept it.

If the EU did accept it, there’s the possibility it will be on the condition of another public vote on Brexit.

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There is also the chance the Government will call for a general election after requesting an extension.

An early election is widely expected after 31 October when Brexit is currently scheduled to happen.

That’s because it takes at least 25 working days for an election campaign to take place.

If a Brexit is delayed, the House of Commons might be asked again by the government to back an early general election. That requires a 2/3 majority in the House of Commons and so far MPs have been unprepared to agree.

An alternative route for the government would be a short new law specifying the date of an early general election – this would require only a simple majority and not need two-thirds of MPs.

There is another much more dramatic way – the Prime Minister could call a vote of no confidence in his own Government.

At any point, the opposition could call a vote of no confidence in the government, which Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has previously said he would table.

A confidence motion could also lead to a general election, sending Britain back to the polls once again.

There’s also the legal option of cancelling Brexit altogether by revoking Article 50.

This is not something the current Government is contemplating – so it’s only really possible to imagine this outcome after a change of government.

What happens next for Brexit is currently anyone’s guess – but with the EU summit on October 17 and 18, there’s still a lot left to play for.

To keep up with the latest Brexit news, check back here.

Or to find out more information on what no deal could mean for you, visit our No Deal Brexit EXPLAINED section here.

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