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News & opinion

12 APR 2019

Brexit: What next?

Another day, another deadline. Following an emergency summit, the EU has agreed to a further delay to Brexit until potentially 31 October 2019. If a withdrawal agreement can be agreed by MPs before then, the UK could leave earlier.

However, this new deadline means that the UK must now take part in the European elections on 23 May or leave the EU without a deal on 1 June.

Ratification of any Brexit deal needs to overcome two legal hurdles – a new version of a 'meaningful vote' and the passing of legislation to enact the UK's 'divorce' from Brussels. In her statement to the Commons, the prime minister suggested that with Labour's help she could sort both through a new set of binding votes and the publication of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill. The bill would "provide a useful forum to resolve some of the outstanding issues" and insert changes to the political declaration that Labour has been pushing on.

RICS watches from across Parliament Square, tracking developments which our professionals need to contemplate in developing business strategies as this period of uncertainty continues, and shares the resounding sentiment of frustration from our professionals operating in the UK.

Brexit was always going to be highly politically charged, but the current style of politics and continuing uncertainty is significantly impacting the land and built environments, as demonstrated in all of our market surveys.

To safe guard a vibrant and sustainable built environment in the UK, we continue to urge government and politicians across parties to work together and find a compromise to put an end to the ongoing political turmoil that so damaging to UK plc.

Whilst highly speculative, we attempt to set out the various scenarios that could play out as a result of the continued uncertainty around Brexit and the future UK-EU relationship. These include:

  • No-deal is still possible if MPs cannot agree to anything else and EU leaders do not allow any further extensions to Brexit.
  • The Labour party could table another vote of no confidence in the government but would need the support of some Conservative MPs. If the majority of MPs vote in favour of such a motion it would trigger a 14-day countdown. If during that time the current government or any other alternative government cannot win a new vote of confidence, then an early general election would be called. Conservative MPs themselves do not have the mechanisms to replace Theresa May until December 2019.
  • The prime minister could ask Parliament to hold an early general election herself if she sees no what out of the deadlock, or she could resign. The latter would trigger a Conservative leadership campaign which would result in a new prime minister. However, Mrs May is insisting that she will stay until a deal is done.
  • The prime minister could ask Parliament to hold another referendum. There would need to be a new piece of legislation to make a referendum happen and to determine the rules. At present there is no parliamentary majority for this. In addition, the Electoral Commission has suggested that such a vote would need around six months to put in place the necessary legislation to enable this to happen. So even if this started now, it is unlikely to be able to be completed in time to avoid another Brexit extension.
  • The European Court of Justice has ruled that it would be legal for the UK to revoke Article 50 to cancel Brexit. However, with the government still committed to Brexit, it is likely that a further referendum or a change of government would have to happen for this to become a reality.