Today marks an important day in Parliament as MPs will decide the fate of Theresa May’s proposed Brexit deal by having their say in a ‘meaningful vote’.
The pivotal moment will decide whether May’s withdrawal agreement from the EU will be supported – but current predictions estimate she will suffer a crushing defeat, losing by a majority of 200.
But once the vote is done, what will happen next?
If Theresa May wins
If May manages to win the vote, the Withdrawal and Implementation Bill will then have to go through Parliament and the full legislative process of being debated on, and passed in both chambers, before it is officially approved.
The EU will have to vote on the deal with a simple majority in the EU parliament – which will include MEPs from the UK.
During this vote, the parliament will only be able to vote on the agreement, and will not have the power to amend it.
A narrow defeat for May
Fresh promises from Brussels that an Irish backstop arrangement will be time-limited could help to encourage wavering Conservative MPs to back the deal at the last minute, meaning May’s defeat could be by a much smaller margin than anticipated.
This may then see the Prime Minister ask the European Union for further reassurances.
Without any obvious alternative, her ‘plan B’ is to stage a series of ‘indicative votes’ to seek for consensus over what form Brexit should take.
May will only have until next Monday to come up with a plan B, and in the interim is expected to head back to Brussels to seek some game-changing concessions from EU leaders.
No confidence vote
An overwhelming defeat for the Prime Minister could prompt Jeremy Corbyn to table a no confidence motion, which would require the support of a handful of Tory MPs who fear May is heading towards a no-deal Brexit.
A delay on Article 50
An extension of Article 50, delaying Britain’s departure from the EU by a few months, looks increasingly likely, as even if May wins the vote, MPs still need to pass a significant amount of legislation before the exit day of 29 March 2019.
If she loses the vote, the window for re-negotiating a deal is impossibly tight.
Another general election?
A possible no-deal Brexit looming could prompt further Cabinet resignations and increasing calls for May to step aside.
While a general election and a People’s Vote seem unlikely at present, if the Prime Minister doesn’t get enough support for her deal, it may be considered the only way to resolve the Brexit deadlock.
However, a general election could not take place before early March, meaning the UK would have to request to delay Article 50.
Possible second referendum
There may be increasing calls for a second referendum, but one cannot realistically be held before the summer.
A Norway-style Brexit
The ‘indicative votes’ (votes by MPs on a series of non-binding resolutions) reveal majority support for a Norway-style deal, which would allow the UK access to the single market.
Britain would be permitted to leave Europe’s agriculture and fisheries policies, while avoiding the expected economic impact of Brexit.
Formally the only alternative to May’s Brexit agreement is for the UK to make an abrupt departure from the EU on 29 March, when it would start trading on World Trade Organisation rules.
A version of this article originally appeared on The Yorkshire Post