Opinion: Theresa May might just get her Brexit Plan over the line

OPINION: If the UK papers and political commentators are anything to go by, Theresa May's Brexit Plan will be voted down again in the House of Commons on Tuesday evening (Wednesday morning NZT). 

The crux of their argument is that her Withdrawal Agreement hasn't changed significantly enough to lure more than half of the 230 MPs who voted against the original plan in January.

Others are saying she'll be gone as Prime Minister by the end of the week. How many times has that prediction been made? 

I'm of a different opinion. I believe her deal might just pass, and she'll still be in Number 10 well after Friday. 

The reason? You just have to look at what the other options are, and how it would play out if her deal is rejected. 

Her deal is officially called the Withdrawal Agreement and it's a 585-page treaty between the UK and the EU that governs the legal basis of leaving. It's taken 2 years to negotiate and outlines how the relationship between the EU and UK will run for the next 20 months, before it is replaced with something more long term. It allows continuity of UK-EU services, goods, trade etc. 

Now if this deal gets rejected by MPs on Tuesday, then implementing Brexit becomes near impossible because of the votes that would follow on Wednesday (Thursday NZT) and Thursday (Friday NZT). 

On Wednesday, they would vote on whether to allow a No Deal Brexit on March 29. Leaving without a deal means the EU kicks the UK out straight away. There's no continuity of trade and services. No grace period. They're out. 

It would affect so many people and businesses that MPs would never vote for it. 

That means on Thursday UK time, MPs would vote on whether to extend the March 29 Brexit date.  That, they will vote for. And Brexit would be delayed. 

The length of the delay is anyone's guess. Some say just a few weeks would be needed. That's hogwash. A few months at the very least would be needed, if not a few years to start negotiations from scratch. 

And this is where it gets tricky. Any renegotiated deal would need to be put before EU Parliament before it rises on April 18 ahead of elections for 701 new MEPs. on May 26  If Brexit hasn't happened by then, then the UK will need to contest the election, campaigning to be part of a system it voted to leave.

The new Parliament wouldn't sit until around July. 

Then there's the spanner of EU Commission President Jean Claude Junker's tenure ending on October 11. A new president would have to grapple with Brexit negotiations, which would affect progress. 

By that stage, it's late 2019 and it's more than 3 years since the referendum. In my opinion, that means the mandate from the people for Brexit needs to be renewed in another referendum. (In New Zealand, the parliamentary term in 3 years and incumbent MPs must renew their mandate by contesting an election). 

None of this has taken into account the volatile nature of UK politics, and the guaranteed resignations/sackings/fallings out that would happen if there were any prolonged delays to Brexit. 

There would likely be a vote of no confidence in Theresa May, and in her government. Who knows who would be Prime Minister, or if the Government would still have a majority. 

There could well be a general election if enough MPs quit the Tory Party, or if the DUP scrap its confidence and supply arrangement, and the government topples. 

This series of events isn't me scaremongering - they could realistically happen if Theresa May's deal is voted down on Tuesday. 

So MPs have a choice: accept the Prime Minister's deal (even though it's not perfect), or face a relentless series of setbacks that will prolong the uncertainty and pain the UK economy is currently suffering. 

Lloyd Burr is Newshub's Europe correspondent.

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