Yesterday (21st March) Theresa May headed a the EU summit. May was attempting to convince her European counterparts to accept her plan for extending the article 50 deadline. Things didn’t go quite to plan.
Instead of accepting May’s proposal, the EU presented their own alternate arrangement; which the Prime Minister accepted.
The New Arrangement
What happens now depends on wether or not May can convince the House of Commons to approve her Brexit deal. If she’s able to get the deal back onto the floor of the house and approved by the commons, then the deadline will be extended to May 22nd. The idea is that this delay will give the UK and EU enough time to prepare for the implementation of May’s deal.
However, if she’s not able to get her deal passed, the deadline will only be extended to the 12th of April. Donald Tusk remarked that “What this means in practice is that, until that date, all options will remain open, and the cliff-edge date will be delayed. The UK government will still have a choice of a deal, no-deal, a long extension or revoking article 50.”
This short extension, in the event of May’s deal failing again, gives the government time to reconsider their strategy. By that point they will have ruled out the only deal on the table and MPs have previously voted to say they don’t want a no deal Brexit. This essentially leaves the government with a choice between a long extension, revoking article 50 and progressing without a deal (ignoring the will of the House of Commons).
As with everything Brexit it’s almost impossible to predict what will happen next. It’s unlikely May will be able to persuade the house to accept her deal, but even if they don’t no deal isn’t inevitable. There are always other options.