Parliament is now suspended until October 14 and Prime Minister Boris Johnson has emphatically stated he’d “rather be dead in a ditch” than delay Brexit.
However, British MPs backed a law demanding that the UK’s exit from the European Union be delayed unless Parliament has either approved a deal or consented by October 19.
Thanks to this bill, “if the EU agrees to an extension, Johnson legally has to agree to it,” Maddy Thimont Jack, a senior researcher at the Institute for Government, told Euronews.
Johnson yesterday lost yet another major vote in Parliament over a bid to call an early election, leaving many to question where this leaves the whole Brexit process.
Does this mean there won’t be an election?
Yes… for the moment. With Parliament suspended, assuming convention that elections be held on a Thursday, the earliest date to go to the polls is November 21.
While opposition parties have been blocking Johnson’s attempts to call an election to be sure the Brexit deadline is delayed in order to avoid a no-deal, but if their efforts come to fruition by October 19, they will almost certainly agree to one soon after.
Could Johnson get out of asking for an extension?
The PM said on Tuesday he would not go to Brussels request an extension to the October 31 deadline, however, there’s speculation in Westminster surrounding two possible ways around this.
Someone else goes to Brussels: in theory, Johnson could resign and appoint someone else who is best placed to take over, which could be another Conservative MP or, most likely, leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn, obliging them to ask for the extension.
This would pave the way for Labour to potentially be blamed for the Brexit delay.
He stays in London: Johnson’s statement could be a simple question of semantics, a report first revealed in The Daily Telegraph recently claimed the PM was ready to send a second letter to the EU.
Johnson sent a letter in August to Donald Tusk, the European Council president, which called on the EU to remove the Irish border backstop from the Withdrawal Agreement.
The new correspondence could be sent alongside a request for a three-month extension, which is written into the law just passed, explaining he does not actually want any delay after October 31, according to the report.
A third outcome that could avoid a request for extension is that the PM could still get a deal approved by MPs before the end of October.
What roll does the EU play?
It’s possible the EU could offer Boris his dream outcome on a plate and refuse to delay Brexit.
Indeed, France’s exasperation with Brexit was communicated by Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who said, as things stand, the European Union would not grant Britain an extension beyond October 31.
However, Thimont Jack raises the question: “If the UK wants an extension, would the EU want to be responsible for them leaving without a deal?”
Another Brexiteer idea involving the EU is getting a member state to block an extension — Hungary and Poland are the countries that have been touted as the extension needs unanimous agreement from the EU27
But these states receive EU funds and it remains to be seen if they have anything to gain from frustrating the other 26 members by vetoing an extension for Johnson.
Are there any other possible eventualities?
Of course. If you haven’t realised it yet, anything, well nearly anything, is possible in the long-running Brexit saga.
Welsh party Plaid Cymru is also considering trying to impeach the prime minister using a procedure that has not been used since the 1800s.
No prime minister has ever successfully been impeached but Johnson previously supported a bid to impeach former prime minister Tony Blair in 2004.
There are also numerous other eventualities, some in the form of loopholes, that teams in Westminster will no doubt be studying in a bid to steer Brexit in their preferred direction.