As the countdown continues to the scheduled date of Brexit on March 29, here’s what been happening over the past week.
How many days to go: 70
What happened this week: Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement, painstakingly negotiated over a period of almost two years, was emphatically rejected in the House of Commons by a margin of 230 votes in the long-awaited “meaningful vote” on Tuesday. After surviving a confidence motion tabled by Jeremy Corbyn, the Prime Minister announced cross-party discussions on a Plan B.
What happens next: The Prime Minister is due to make a statement on Monday next week setting out her next steps. MPs are expected to table amendments calling for a range of outcomes, from an extension of the two-year Article 50 negotiating period to a bar on a no-deal Brexit or a second referendum.
Good week: Dominic Grieve. The Conservative former attorney general has decisively influenced the course of Brexit with a series of carefully worded amendments to Government motions. It was a Grieve amendment which forced the “meaningful vote” in the House of Commons, and another which cut from 21 to three days the period allowed for the PM to make her response.
Bad week: Theresa May. Many weeks since the start of Brexit negotiations have been bad for the Prime Minister, but this can truly be said to be the worst. The House of Commons’ rejection of her deal by a staggering margin of 432 votes to 202 will ensure her an unenviable place in the history books as the PM suffering the heaviest Commons defeat.
Quote of the week: “What are you playing at? What are you doing? You are not children in the playground, you are legislators.” Attorney General Geoffrey Cox’s message to MPs planning to vote against Mrs May’s deal.
Tweet of the week: European Council president Donald Tusk: “If a deal is impossible, and no one wants no deal, then who will finally have the courage to say what the only positive solution is?”
Word of the week: Cross-party. For the first time since taking on the job of delivering Brexit, Theresa May invited leaders of opposition parties and senior parliamentarians from across Westminster to discuss their preferred outcomes. She was snubbed by Jeremy Corbyn after she refused to rule out a no-deal withdrawal.