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Next steps for MPs in search of Brexit way forward

Labour MP Peter Kyle
Labour MP Peter Kyle
MPs Kenneth Clarke
MP Nick Boles
MP Joanna Cherry

By David Hughes and Jennifer McKiernan

MPs have again rejected a series of alternatives to the PM's Brexit deal.

A call for a customs union after Brexit was defeated by just three votes, a referendum on any deal was rejected by 12 votes, the Common Market 2.0 plan lost by 21 votes and cancelling Brexit to prevent a no-deal scenario was defeated by 101. So what happens next?

Today, April 2

Theresa May has scheduled a five-hour Cabinet meeting instead of the usual 90 minutes. The first three hours will be a political Cabinet without civil servants - fuelling speculation senior Tories will consider the prospect of a snap election, the timing of the Prime Minister's departure or the potential for ministerial resignations if there is a change in Brexit strategy.

Tomorrow, April 3

Backbench MPs will again take charge of the Commons timetable to consider Brexit plans under Tory MP Sir Oliver Letwin's scheme to break the Parliamentary deadlock.

Thursday, April 4

After latest round of votes failed to find a clear winner, Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay said: "If the House were to agree a deal this week it may still be possible to avoid holding European parliamentary elections." That could be an indication the Prime Minister might risk a fourth showdown on her Withdrawal Agreement in the hope that more Tory Eurosceptics will accept the choice is between her plan and a softer Brexit.

Wednesday, April 10

An emergency summit of EU leaders will consider any request by the UK for a longer delay to Brexit. To be granted a further postponement the Government will have to set out what purpose it would achieve and it will almost certainly involve taking part in the European elections.

Friday, April 12

The UK is scheduled to leave the EU on April 12 after MPs rejected the Prime Minister's deal last week.

Thursday, may 23

If EU leaders have agreed extension to the Article 50 process, UK will elect MEPs to European Parliament.

Breakaway Independent Group of MPs intends to set up a new political party - Change UK - to fight the elections on a pro-EU platform.

Nigel Farage will seek to continue as MEP, this time for new Brexit Party.

Sunday, june 23

Mrs May warned MPs before they rejected her deal a long extension would "at least delay and could destroy Brexit". Three years after the referendum, it is possible the UK will still be in the European Union, have newly elected MEPs and will be contributing to the Brussels budget.

A general election?

The current House of Commons has so far proved unable to agree a Brexit plan, so PM could be tempted to call a snap election to break deadlock.

But would her MPs allow her to fight another contest as leader?

And would a new election give whoever occupies Number 10 a majority to steer such a divisive issue through Parliament?

A fresh referendum?

The call for a new referendum was defeated by just 12 votes and campaigners seized on the fact it had more MPs voting in favour than any other option.

A soft brexit?

The narrow defeat for a customs union will increase pressure on Mrs May to move in favour of the measure. But it would tear the Tory party apart as critics believe it robs the UK of the ability to strike trade deals with countries such as the US.

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