The key Brexit questions you’ve wanted to ask, answered

Theresa May’s Brexit deal has suffered its second defeat in the House of Commons. Lawmakers voted it down by 391 votes to 242.

While this is an improvement on the first so-called meaningful vote in January, in which May was handed the heftiest Commons defeat in history, 17 days out from Brexit day (March 29), it leave a number of questions unanswered.

Is Brexit going away

Nice try! No. Brexit is happening on March 29 unless the UK applies for an extension to article 50. That vote is probably going to take place on Thursday. The EU Council meets next week (March 21) which would likely be May’s nearest chance to apply for such an extension.

Could the EU kick the UK out of the EU?

Short answer yes, but why would they? If the EU wanted a no deal crash out, they only need to wait another 17 days.

Can the EU laugh and say no, when/if the UK asks for more time?

I doubt they would laugh — Eurocrats are not famed for their sense of humor (apart from Donald Tusk) — but with a heavy heart, the leaders of the EU 27 members states could decline the UK’s request for an extension to article 50. It only takes one member state to veto the extension and many of them have good reason for doing so. The EU has been consistent that if the UK asks for an extension with sensible suggestions as to how they can get out of this trench, it would be carefully considered. But EU diplomats have also made clear for months that they see no point is delaying only to end up back where we are now.

Is Theresa May going to resign?

History says no, at least in the immediate future. May has an extraordinary ability to cling on to power. With an EU summit days away and Brexit far from sorted, May is, whatever you think of her, a dedicated public servant. It’s hard to see how she would see it’s in the best interests of the UK to suddenly create uncertainty around the leadership of the country, on top of everything else.

What about another referendum?

Right now, the clearest path to a second Brexit vote is if the opposition Labour Party puts forward an amendment that a majority of the House of Commons backs. Labour recently adopted a formal policy of backing a second public vote on Brexit, should their alternative plan to May’s be defeated in a commons vote, which it was last month. But people hoping to see Brexit canceled should keep the champagne corked for the time being. Labour hasn’t tabled any such amendment to date, and there’s a pretty good reason for that: they don’t think it will pass. The risk of losing that vote is too great to play around with and would both undermine the authority of the opposition and exacerbate divisions within the party. Yes, it’s not just May’s Conservatives that have problems…

The other reason Remainers should hold off the celebrations is this: it’s not clear that even if a second public vote were to be held, Remain would be on the ballot. Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party, has been careful not to endorse the so-called “People’s Vote” campaign and instead always words his second referendum plan as a second public vote.

OK, what about another election?

Now you’re talking. Some think that Labour only backed a second vote because of its ultimate desire to force an early general election — something the party believes it could win. Labour saw success in the 2017 snap election by having a Schrodinger’s Brexit policy — appearing more Europhile that the Conservatives while officially supporting leaving the EU. Formally backing a second referendum has a similar affect, especially if the government continually blocks the possibility of it happening.

And if you think this sounds far-fetched, today, Labour aides were celebrating the fact that the Commons speaker John Bercow didn’t accept any amendments.

Is the threat that Brexit can be lost real?

The sight of May and President of the European Commission Jean Claude Juncker sat side-by-side Monday night, claiming it was this deal or no Brexit, was nothing short of extraordinary. Both know that this isn’t really true. The only way Brexit can be lost is if the UK revokes Article 50. It would need to pass an act of parliament to do so, which without a public vote instructing parliament to do so is a total non-starter. It could happen, but it would require first a Brexit delay, then a national vote with a huge majority.

If you want to ask any further Brexit questions, Luke McGee can be reached on Twitter.