Brexit Legalities and Plans for No Deal


Plans are underway for no-deal by the EU and finally the UK. The former claims to be prepared.

That plans are underway does not imply no deal. That Parliament voted against no deal does not imply that it won't happen.

A range of possibilities still exist although some are more likely than others.


A Brexit Central "Civil Servant" notes a Fourth Vote on the Withdrawal Agreement Would Require New Legal Authority.

If the Prime Minister insists on ramming her totally unacceptable Withdrawal Agreement through Parliament with another vote, then she will need to take the considerable political risk of going to Brussels to ask for a new European Council decision for this purpose, which will then require an amended Statutory Instrument to be passed in Parliament.

May’s Withdrawal Agreement is dead. It is time to chuck it in the shredder, change Prime Minister, and get out of the EU.

Here’s the full text of the European Council decision of 22nd March:

Under the European Council decision, in the event that the withdrawal agreement is approved by the House of Commons by 29 March 2019 at the latest, the extension will be until 22 May 2019. In the event that the withdrawal agreement is not approved by the House of Commons by 29 March 2019, the extension will be until 12 April 2019. In that event, the UK will indicate a way forward before 12 April 2019, for consideration by the European Council. The decision makes clear that for the duration of the extension the United Kingdom remains a member state with all the rights and obligations set out in the treaties and under EU law. If the UK is still a member state on 23-26 May 2019, it will be under the obligation to hold elections to the European Parliament. The extension also excludes any re-opening of the withdrawal agreement. Any unilateral commitment, statement or other act by the UK should be compatible with the letter and the spirit of the withdrawal agreement.

Legalities vs Practicalities

Legally, that's very clear. It says Parliament has until March 29 to approve the withdrawal agreement. Parliament did not do that. What remains is an option to indicate a way forward before April 12.

"Civil Servant", whose identity is protected, has this correct.

As a practical matter, throw the analysis in the ashcan. If May holds a 4th vote and it passes, the EU will honor it.

Thus, May's deal is not dead.

MP's Gave May Authority to Leave With No Deal

Here's a similarly useless opinion: MPs have given Theresa May the authority to leave the EU on 12th April without a deal.

MPs have indeed voted against many things: the Withdrawal Agreement, leaving without a deal, a managed No Deal, a customs union, a confirmatory referendum and various versions of EFTA/EEA including so-called Common Market 2.0. Let’s focus, however, on the indicative vote on Motion L, tabled by Joanna Cherry of the SNP: “Revoke Article 50 to avoid No Deal”. This motion stated that if we were two days before the scheduled date of departure from the EU and with no Withdrawal Agreement in place, the Government should put a motion to the House asking it to approve No Deal and if that was not approved, then the Government would be forced to revoke Article 50. The motion was defeated overwhelmingly by 293 votes to 184. To understand the significance of this vote, recall that if the Withdrawal Agreement was not approved before Friday 29th March, the extension to Article 50 granted by the EU would last only until Friday 12th April. Now it has not been approved, the default remains that we leave the European Union without a deal. Given that MPs have indicated they are opposed to every other option, we are in precisely the situation envisaged by Motion L.

Now that the Withdrawal Agreement has been voted down three times, the only defensible strategy the Prime Minister has is to ensure the UK leaves the EU on 12th April.

Once again, this makes perfect sense logically. Once again, it is a waste of time to do anything but quickly dismiss it.

Way Forward

A Guardian editorial states MPs Offer a Way Out

This week MPs voted for the first time since 1906 to take back control of parliamentary business from the government and hold a series of indicative votes on where they thought Brexit should go.

There is now a straightforward choice: either change Brexit policy or change the parliament. The latter requires a general election, but the odds are against any party gaining a big majority. The predicament the nation finds itself in is in part a consequence of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011. This does not allow for the dissolution of parliament when a prime minister has been defeated on the government’s legislation. The act says two-thirds of MPs have to approve a motion for an early election to be called.

Mrs May should pay attention to the outcome of next week’s votes. She is running out of time to come up with a plan that either parliament or her party and its allies can support. Mrs May needs to tell EU leaders at an emergency European council meeting on 10 April how the UK intends to proceed. The UK must also come up with proposals before 12 April to avert a ruinous no-deal Brexit, which MPs have voted against. Restoring the sovereignty of parliament was one of the major aims of Brexit. Mrs May could honour that by accepting what MPs vote for.

One Useful Fact Accompanied With Lies

The "way out" is a lie. The Guardian wants a customs union. That is not a way out, it is a way to remain in the EU with all the problems and none of the benefits.

The Guardian's portrayal of no-deal as ruinous is another lie.

The useful fact is something I meant to discuss previously but did not do so.

May can call for elections, but she might not get them, and in fact probably wouldn't. It takes two-thirds of MPs to go along and enough Tories wouldn't.

Snap Elections Blocked

Please consider furious Tory MPs tell May: We’ll Block Snap Brexit Election.

Conservative MPs from across the party are threatening to vote down any attempt by Theresa May to lead them into a snap election, warning it would split the Tories and exacerbate the Brexit crisis.

In a sign of the collapse in authority suffered by the prime minister, cabinet ministers are among those warning that there will be a serious campaign by Conservative MPs to vote against an election headed by May, a move she hinted at last week to break the Brexit deadlock.

The threat of an election immediately angered both pro-Brexit and pro-Remain MPs. May would need a two-thirds majority in the Commons to secure one, meaning a serious rebellion by Tories could block it. May would then be forced to secure an election by backing a no-confidence vote in her own government, which only requires a simple majority of MPs.

Vote of Confidence

Even some pro-remain MPs don't want snap elections. Also note the odd proposal that May could back a vote of confidence against herself to force an election.

Although it only takes 50% for May to be removed in a vote of confidence, that does not explicitly force elections either.

Wikipedia notes that under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, if a motion of no confidence in the government is passed in express terms, the house must then adopt a vote of confidence in that same or an alternate government within 14 days, or a general election is held.

There is a 14 day window to form a new government with uncertain outcomes. And although Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn is itching for an election, he seems poised to lose it, at least according to recent polls.

Finally, it is unclear if France and the rest of the EU would wait for these political shenanigans. And even if the EU would wait, it would only be if the UK agrees by April 12 to hold EU parliament elections. That has not happened yet.

What's Next

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Key Question

That useful diagram is from the BBC.

The key question that "Avid Remainers" consistently miss is "Will Theresa May Accept the Plan?"

It is not clear how many proposals there will be but it is thought supporters of a "softer Brexit" than the PM's deal will look to join forces and combine elements of separate proposals to try and broker a compromise.

However, any plan including a customs union will require more Conservative support than it has hitherto enjoyed and the government has explicitly ruled out the idea up to now.

A motion calling for any deal approved by Parliament to be endorsed by the public in a confirmatory referendum is expected to return in some form. 268 MPs voted for it last time although, again, the majority of Tories and many Labour MPs remain opposed.


The BBC's political correspondent Alex Forsyth said if a majority of MPs ended up backing either a customs union or referendum on Monday, senior government sources aren't ruling out the idea of a run-off, giving MPs a straight choice between that and the PM's Brexit plan.

The majority will not back a referendum. The referendum idea died many months ago if it was ever really in play in the first place.

The runnoff idea is yet another way May can force MV4.

My idea that May could head to Europe to discuss a customs union and purposely come back empty-handed is also in play.

Under that scenario, May would present Parliament with the choice of My Deal or No Deal on April 9 or 10.

Both cannot be ruled out making for MV5.

EU Prepares for No Deal

Meanwhile, the BBC reports EU Leaders Plan for No Deal as Other Options Dissolve.

EU leaders head into this weekend with a heavy heart. They know, in theory, that all Brexit options remain on the table and they haven't entirely given up hope of a negotiated UK departure, but there is little trust here that the prime minister or Parliament will manage to pull it off.

Despite all the drama, the money and time spent by EU leaders on Brexit over the last two years (summits, dedicated governmental departments, no-deal planning), all the hard, hard graft put in by the EU and UK negotiating teams, Europe's leaders are asking themselves what there is to show for it all.

Ongoing Brexit divisions in parliament, in government and in Theresa May's cabinet were on screaming technicolour display again last week.

EU leaders used to use the threat of a no-deal Brexit as a negotiating tactic (as did the UK). They now believe it to be a very real prospect. That has led to a number of countries - notably France - questioning the logic of delaying Brexit for much longer.

Final Days

Without another extension, for reasons the EU will accept, we are down to the final 11 days.

Say what you want of May, but give her credit for brilliantly running don the clock. She succeeded although the outcome is unknown.

Negotiating Too Good a Deal

If no-deal is the result, don't blame May entirely. She was a terrible negotiator, but this was a joint effort.

If anything, one can blame the EU more for insisting on provisions that the UK ultimately would not go along with.

No-deal is a fantastic opportunity for the UK. Yes, there will be some short-term pain, but the benefits will be lasting.

For further discussion, please see Forcing MV4: Binary Choice vs Conspiracy Theories and Accidents.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (34)
No. 1-5

Neither the Conservative MPs nor some of the Labour MPs want brexit at all. This is not about the will of the people as they have been ignored for decades. This is about the status quo which is what unfortunately will happen in the short and long run.


"No-deal is a fantastic opportunity for the UK. Yes, there will be some short-term pain, but the benefits will be lasting."

This is a big win for Russia. This is a big win for anti-government types and Libertarians, but the consensus of those who have a clue and have skin in the game is that "No Deal" Brexit will be extremely problematic to most Brits.

Britain will be a small, shrinking economy in desperate need to craft bilateral agreements with larger trading partners, all of whom will know that Britain is desperate and unskilled in the process (for over four decades Britain has not had to negotiate any complex economic agreements - and the Brexit deal, even though you seem to lay the blame on only Theresa May, is really indicative of a systemic weakness in this skill set).

Take for example a proposed deal with the U.S. The U.K. will be forced to give up its sovereignty over food processing rules to allow for practices that are accepted in the U.S. but not popular in the U.K. Just about every other negotiation will be along the lines of "Here is the deal, we don't really need it, but we know you do, so take it or leave it."

There is great and gleeful hand waiving about how Germany is going to suffer because Britain won't buy their Mercedes any longer - but does anybody really believe that Germany will be allowed by the rest of Europe to cut a sweetheart deal with the U.K. to prop up their auto industry, even if they believe all that "Battle of Britain 2" stuff?

Another aspect is Northern Ireland. The "Troubles" are not taken seriously over here, and of course, the U.S. was a major fundraiser and supporter of the I.R.A. - an organization that killed plenty of innocent people, including children, with indiscriminate acts of violence. I've got family on both sides of the border and Christian sects and have no interest in the sectarian war (let's call it what it is) flaring up again. I hope the people of Ireland and Ulster feel the same way, however it is still two divided communities in many ways, and the ties that have been built are still fragile enough to be swept aside by the stupid.

"No Deal" Brexit may be inevitable, but the booster groups endorsing it feels like a cheerleader group at a funeral to most Brits.


So when does a BREXIT politician file a lawsuit to enforce Article 50 leaving on March 29th? It would seem asking for or accepting an extension would violate rule of law.


Below is worth a read. Beware people saying "most Brits". Right or wrong there is deep anger brewing. Dominic Grieve is a stalwart of the Tories, if it can happen to him it can happen to anyone of them.

If Farage sets up his national party there will be Tory and Labour MPs quaking in their shoes as many Brits are tired of them all.

Not a pro-Brexit publication, nor extreme -


"This is a big win for Russia. "

Looks like you are attempting to peddle fear with no explanation of the reasoning behind that.The last Russian fear mongering over the US election turned out to be a dud, and this proposition appears to have no more evidence behind it than that.

"Britain will be a small, shrinking economy" - Again you assert with no reasoning. Logic tells me that shorn of the burden of having to support an unnecessary level of government, and with the single chain of command restored, the UK economy should do well. The caveat here is that if we have strict immigration controls, the reduction in the number of people will cause the economy to shrink. What is important though is the size of the economy in relation to the number of people. The UK will do great without having the burden of supporting the EU. WTO trade deals will suit us just fine.