Prime Minister Theresa May announced a significant shift in her Brexit trajectory, committing to three days of indicative votes which will steer the course of her government’s policy approach. The PM had to delay her meaningful vote to March 12th because no legal concessions on the backstop have been achieved. Should her deal be defeated again, MPs will be asked to vote on endorsing a No Deal Brexit. Furthermore, the Prime Minister finally bowed to pressure from ‘remainer’ cabinet ministers and announced that the House of Commons would vote on whether or not to extend Article 50 on March 14th, at the latest.
Any request by the UK for an extension would require the unanimous support of the other EU 27 leaders. While welcoming any such request from the British, President Macron and Chancellor Merkel noted that the EU could only endorse an extension if there was a clear plan or purpose expressed by the UK. Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez added that an extension of Article 50 would come with conditions.
The Labour Party also moved the pendulum on its Brexit strategy with Jeremy Corbyn formally announcing his party’s support for a second referendum. With Labour’s amendments on its Brexit plan defeated in the House of Commons on Wednesday, the decision to endorse a second public vote is likely to cause an additional obstacle in forming a consensus view on the eventual construct of a Withdrawal Agreement.