Playing it through

The 11th December is a pivotal point in Brexit, and the timing of one of the most significant Commons votes in recent history. Parliament will be asked to approve Mrs May’s negotiated EU deal, but in all likelihood will decline to do so. Bookies have the odds of Parliamentary approval at 18%. In assessing this position, they will doubtless have taken account of the fact that 100 Tory MPs (for differing reasons) have said that they will not support it. Amongst the General Public, support is also weak (27%). So, if the deal is moribund, what next? Michael Gove has stated that failure to ratify the deal risks ‘no Brexit at all’. Playing through the game theory, if the vote doesn’t go May’s way, then Labour should trigger a motion, ‘That this House has no confidence in Her Majesty’s Government’. (Sir Keir Starmer effectively stated as much this week.) If that passes, then the Government has 14 days to reinstate confidence before Parliament is dissolved under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, and Labour are likely to then be in the driving seat under a fresh General Election. However, it might well not pass. A motion requires the House’s support, May’s approval rating is still well above Corbyn’s, and the Conservatives have a 5-point polling lead. What then? May could go back to the EU for another deal (unlikely?), or, increasingly likely, Labour shifts policy in favour of a second referendum, and seeks to persuade enough Tories to their position. At that point the EU would need to agree to a new timetable, say another 6 months (likely they would). Then the public could lay this to rest one way or another; but even the outcome of that possibility is unclear.