After MPs gave their backing to proposals to replace the controversial Irish backstop in the Prime Minister’s withdrawal deal, here’s a look at what could happen next in the Brexit saga.
Will the PM go to Brussels?
Theresa May vowed to seek “legally binding” changes to the Withdrawal Agreement with the European Union, but gave no firm date for returning to Brussels to reopen negotiations. Mrs May told MPs on Tuesday night that while there was “limited appetite” to amend the deal, the House of Commons had “made it clear what it needs to approve a withdrawal agreement”.
Will the EU make any concessions?
Key figures in Brussels roundly rejected the PM’s suggestion, as Donald Tusk insisted that the Withdrawal Agreement struck last November was not open for renegotiation. Meanwhile, the European Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator, Guy Verhofstadt, said there was “no majority to re-open or dilute” the agreement.
What about the Labour Party?
Jeremy Corbyn, who boycotted cross-party talks after the Commons rejected the Withdrawal Agreement by a record 230 votes on January 15, said that he was now ready to meet the Prime Minister to discuss a “sensible Brexit solution that works for the whole country”. He called on Mrs May to “face the reality that no-deal is not an option”.
Could Brexit be delayed?
This option became less likely after MPs rejected two proposals to delay Brexit by extending the two-year Article 50 negotiation process if Mrs May was unable to secure an acceptable agreement by February 26.
What sort of Brexit is now likely?
It still remains unclear. The EU would have to significantly change their stance on reopening the Withdrawal Agreement if legally-binding changes are to be made on the Irish backstop. But while the UK and EU remain at loggerheads over the issue, one of Mrs May’s key negotiating weapons was ripped from her hands by MPs when they voted on Tuesday evening to block a no-deal.