Brexit: Step by Step Timeline

Brexit timeline brought to you by Reuters

Britain’s parliament last month demanded Prime Minister Theresa May renegotiate a Brexit divorce deal that the other members of the European Union say they will not reopen.

With just 32 days until the United Kingdom is due by law to leave the EU, the options include a disorderly Brexit, a delay to Brexit or no Brexit at all.

May is pursuing a renegotiated deal, but faces a growing threat that she will need to choose to delay Brexit or be forced to do so by British lawmakers.

Below is a summary of what is due to happen next:

“HIGH NOON”- FEB. 27

On Tuesday, May will make a statement updating lawmakers on her progress and lawmakers will have an opportunity on Wednesday to debate and vote on the way forward.

Several lawmakers in May’s Conservative Party, including some ministers, have indicated this will be the last chance they give her to find a way through the impasse.

Opposition Labour Party lawmaker Yvette Cooper plans to use that debate to seek lawmakers’ support for legislation that would force the government to decide between leaving without a deal or extending the Article 50 negotiation period if it has not had a deal approved by March 13.

VOTE ON A REVISED DEAL (meaningful vote) – BY MARCH 12

May has promised to bring back a revised deal to parliament and hold a vote on whether to approve it by March 12.

Before a vote on the exit agreement in January, which May lost heavily, parliament held five days of debate. It is not clear whether there would be another lengthy debate this time.

May is required by law to get parliamentary approval for any exit deal.

EU SUMMIT – MARCH 21-22

EU leaders are due to meet in Brussels. This could be an opportunity for an eleventh-hour deal or it would be the last chance to agree an extension of the Article 50 negotiation period and delay Brexit to avoid no-deal disruption. If the summit goes badly and there is still no deal in sight then May will have to decide whether to delay or go for a no-deal Brexit.

LAST WEEKEND – MARCH 23-24

If a deal is seen as viable at the summit, officials could work through the weekend to nail down the details with a final deal – and a possible extension to June 30 conditional on British parliamentary approval – announced on Sunday, March 24-Monday, March 25.

FINAL WEEK – MARCH 25-29

If a deal could be clinched, then the British parliament could vote on it, possibly on March 26. The European Parliament could ratify the deal that week.

EXIT DAY – MARCH 29?

If May does not get a deal approved by parliament by March 29, Britain faces a disorderly exit or may be forced to seek an extension of Article 50 to give more time to reach an agreement. It is not certain the EU would agree to this.

Some lawmakers, including opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, have said it is now “inevitable” that the government will have to seek an extension, as there will not be enough time to pass the legislation for Britain’s exit before March 29.

The leader of Britain’s lower house of parliament, Andrea Leadsom, has said the date might need to be pushed back by a couple of weeks.

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT ELECTIONS

The bloc will vote to elect a new European Parliament on May 23-26. The new chamber would sit from July 2, a date that is shaping up to be the EU’s limit for any extension of Article 50.

The EU says Britain would have to organize European Parliament elections on its soil if it were to delay Brexit beyond that as otherwise its people would be deprived of their democratic representation while still being in the EU. The bloc fears Britain would not do that.

Some in the EU also fear that, should Britain vote, it would elect a staunchly eurosceptic representation to the European Parliament that is already expected to have a larger contingent of EU critics influencing the bloc’s policies.

The main centre-right group, whose leaders include German Chancellor Angela Merkel, could also lose its place as the biggest in the European Parliament; UK Labour seats could help the European Socialists overtake the People’s Party, from which British Conservatives broke away to sit separately.

DELAYED BREXIT – JUNE 30 OR LATER

If a Brexit extension is sought, one date being talked about in Brussels is June 30, the Sunday before the new European Parliament sits at 10 a.m. (0800 GMT) on July 2. Some argue for an exit before May 23, the day Britain would otherwise be due to hold an EU election.

Sterling finds some support

Already this morning, the pound has rallied slightly on the news of U.K PM Theresa May accepting that March 12 will be the final day her Brexit withdrawal deal will be put to the test. The pound is up by +0.4% at $1.3081 outright. EUR/GBP is flat at €0.8682.

The relief comes from hopes that the Article 50 deadline (Mar 29) “will likely be extended given that the vote could take place just 17 days before the U.K. is officially due to exit the European Union.”

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Dean Popplewell

Dean Popplewell

Vice-President of Market Analysis at MarketPulse
Dean Popplewell has nearly two decades of experience trading currencies and fixed income instruments. He has a deep understanding of market fundamentals and the impact of global events on capital markets. He is respected among professional traders for his skilled analysis and career history as global head of trading for firms such as Scotia Capital and BMO Nesbitt Burns. Since joining OANDA in 2006, Dean has played an instrumental role in driving awareness of the forex market as an emerging asset class for retail investors, as well as providing expert counsel to a number of internal teams on how to best serve clients and industry stakeholders.
Dean Popplewell