What are the key dates for Brexit in the weeks ahead?

Theresa May’s latest climbdown has set a stage for a series of critical showdowns in the Commons 

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Tuesday 26 February 2019 17:41
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Theresa May has carried out a dramatic U-turn by promising MPs a vote to reject a no-deal Brexit and – if they do that – a vote to demand a delay beyond 29 March.

So what are the key dates for the momentous weeks ahead?

* Wednesday 27 February

There will be a series of votes, including on Labour’s softer Brexit plan and an attempt to guarantee the rights of British expats in the EU if the UK crashes out without a deal. The crunch was set to be the Yvette Cooper amendment to force the prime minister to seek an Article 50 extension, if her deal is rejected again – but it may now be withdrawn, following her climbdown.

* Tuesday 12 March

The deadline for a second “meaningful vote” on the rejected withdrawal agreement, following its devastating 230-vote mauling six weeks ago. Ms May is urging the EU to guarantee the Irish border backstop will be temporary, but Brussels has ruled out rewriting the text – and the prime minister herself abandoned any attempt to replace the backstop with “alternative arrangements”, as MPs demanded. Unless changes are legally binding, it is unlikely that sufficient Tories will switch sides to overturn that yawning 230-vote margin.

* Wednesday 13 March

If they reject the deal again, MPs will vote on whether to leave the EU without an agreement – which they will almost certainly reject, given a no deal is only favoured by a small minority. The prime minister refused to say if Tories would be whipped to vote against crashing out, but any attempt to whip them in favour would trigger mass ministerial resignations. There will also be another neutral motion on the status of the negotiations which MPs will be able to amend, similar to the votes taking place this week.

* Thursday 14 March

If MPs reject a no-deal Brexit, they will vote the following day on whether the government should “seek a short, limited extension to Article 50”, which would require the agreement of all 27 EU countries. The prime minister refused to say for how long – “as short as possible”, she told MPs – but the expectation is about two months. Brussels may kick up rough, preferring a short extension only to complete the passage of Brexit legislation while suggesting a long delay if the UK is still dithering over what it wants. Downing Street was unable to say what will happen if MPs reject all options of her deal, a no deal and a delay.

* Thursday 21 March

The next summit of EU leaders – at which Ms May will probably still be begging for further concessions on the deal. Don’t rule out yet another meaningful vote the following week, if the EU gives any ground.

* Saturday 23 March

Hundreds of thousands of people will pour onto the streets of London for a “Put It To The People March” – part of The Independent’s Final Say campaign for a fresh referendum on the Brexit outcome

* Friday 29 March

The scheduled date, at 11pm, for leaving the EU, exactly two years after the triggering of Article 50 – which is now increasingly unlikely to be Brexit day.

* Thursday 23 May

The start of elections to the European parliament, after which a delay, keeping the UK in the EU, becomes increasingly difficult – but not impossible.

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