UK Votes – will not leave EU on March 29, 2019
- On March 14, 2019, the UK Parliament voted to extend Article 50 (the formal mechanism for leaving the EU). It will not leave the EU on March 29, 2019.
- Separately, MPs passed on taking charge of the Brexit process going forward, by voting down a proposal that would have seen a series of votes in UK Parliament next week allowing MPs to indicate their preferred Brexit plan. Consequently, the Prime Minister will – for a third time, following two rejections – put forward the Brexit “Withdrawal Agreement” that the UK Government negotiated with the EU to a Parliamentary vote. This vote is likely to take place next Tuesday, 19 March 2019.
- The decision of the UK Parliament to extend Article 50 does not automatically mean the UK cannot still leave with No Deal on 29 March 2019; rather, the Prime Minister must now formally ask European leaders for the Article 50 process to be extended.
- The EU’s 27 heads of state and government are due to meet at the EU summit in Brussels next Thursday, 21 March 2019, where they will decide unanimously to accept or reject the request. Political commentary suggests the EU is likely to accept the UK’s proposal, but will press for a long extension (potentially up to the end of 2019, rather than the 30 June 2019 “short technical” extension put forward by the UK Government) and demand, per the European Council president Donald Tusk, that the UK “rethink its Brexit strategy and build consensus around it”.
- All Brexit options are still on the table.