A delay for Brexit was voted in by UK on Mar. 14 with a majority of 211. The vote, which finished 413 – 202, reflects the belief of British lawmakers that the UK will not be able to smoothly leave the European Union (EU) by Mar. 29, the date planned after Article 50 was set in motion which Prime Minister Theresa May has repeatedly held as the gold standard. However, May herself went against previous statements and voted for the delay, which was pushed through largely by opposition votes as the majority of her party, the Conservative Party, voted against the delay.
The vote to support the delay comes after two seperate rejections of May’s withdrawal agreement and occur only a day after May’s no-Deal Brexit was rejected on Mar. 15. May is set to put a new withdrawal deal before parliament within next week, having negotiated its acceptance as part of her agreement to vote for delay. If the deal is not pushed through, May warns of an even longer delay to Brexit. She still face numerous challenges, though, not least of which is the division within her own party. The split in Conservative votes over the delay, with 112 voting and 188 against, reflects lack of unification which May faces within her own party.
As the deadline for Article 50 approaches, the fate of Brexit remains uncertain. According to several global financial experts, the no-deal hard exit that Parliament rejected Wednesday would mean economic chaos for the UK, without any support or weaning off of EU reliance. However, though wanted by few, the no-deal withdrawal nonetheless remains the legal default unless specific legal action is taken. Legal action which would require an agreement upon a withdrawal agreement or a specific “soft exit,” which Parliament voted down Tuesday.
The delay and Brexit’s fate is further complicated by the reality that many of the decisions the UK are voting on are not ultimately there’s to make. An actual delay of Brexit past Mar. 29 would require an official extension of Article 50. To accomplish this, all 27 countries of the EU must unanimously agree to the delay. This EU vote is set to take place within the coming weeks. If it does not go through, the UK faces a harsh and sudden withdrawal from the EU, which their vote for delay demonstrated they do not believe themselves prepared for.
If the EU supports the UK in their decision, then the question of Brexit still remains uncertain. The withdrawal terms, pending next week’s vote of May’s proposition, remain uncertain, and the length of extension is still to be considered. May herself warned of the perils of too long a delay, the chief block to a several month reworking of Brexit being the elections for European Parliament (EP) in late May.
If Britain remains a member of the European Union at this time, they will be required to participate in the elections which, though technically feasible, faces the mass popular disapproval of the British public. Thus, as Brexit waits to hear if the UK-supported delay is unanimously accepted by the EU, Brexit, May, and the UK economy are still looking toward a variety of future obstacles in leaving the EU.