Expect 4th or 5th “Meaningful” Vote and a "Conditional" Extension


In today's meaningless action UK PMs ruled out a referendum and asked the EU for an extension.

It's amusing watching UK PMs make total asses of themselves with meaningless addendum after addendum.

The parliament just adjourned. Here's a synopsis of today's Brexit farce via snips from the Guardian Live Blog.

  • The motion to request an extension passed 412 in favour, 202 against, a majority of 210. A second amendment to restrict the extension request to the end of June failed.
  • MPs crushed the second referendum amendment idea by 334 votes to 85 - a majority of 249. 18 Labour MPs voted against second referendum.
  • The Hillary Benn amendment to "enable the House of Commons to find a way forward that can command majority support".amendment failed 312-314. Effectively, the amendment was a request for parliament to take control of the process. 15 Tories defied whips to vote for the amendment and six Labour MPs defied whips to vote against it.
  • After the final result was announced, Jeremy Corbyn rose on a point of order in the Commons to urge Theresa May to work for a consensus on Brexit. There was no reply from Theresa May, or any other government minister.

EU Extension Statement

The European commission issued a response to tonight’s vote. It is stressing that the UK would not automatically be granted an extension to article 50, and it says the EU would have to consider its own interests when deciding whether to agree one.

Honor of the Day Award - Before Requested

Expect More Resignations by Request

Farce of the Day

Silliest Comment

Expect a Short, Conditional Delay

Andrew Adonis believes the EU will grant a lengthy extension for the UK to work things out.

He is in Fantasyland. It is conceivable the EU will not grant any extension. However, an extension is highly likely for the simple reason they will not want to take the blame for the UK "crashing" out of the EU.

Expect a short extension but it may be accompanied by a demand for a specific proposal, not for the UK to decide what to do.

In any case, the extension will not go past the next European elections in June.

May Runs Out the Clock

Contrary to popular belief, Theresa May has already run down the clock.

​According to Eurointelligence, "It takes 14 days for parliament to replace a prime minister through a vote of no-confidence. 14 days is also not enough time to pass legislation without government support."

The clock expired. We don't know the outcome, but it is binary. The referendum is gone, so is a resignation or vote of no confidence (in time to change the outcome).

Expect a Fourth or Fifth Meaningful Vote

The BBC says PM to Bring Third Brexit Deal Vote to Commons.

May did not announce a date, but next week seems likely. If that fails by a small margin, May will give it a fourth or fifth "meaningful" chance the final week.

Assessing the Odds

My position had been the outcome was close but no-deal was a slight favorite.

I now believe May's deal is a slight favorite. By the time of the last meaningful vote, the odds may strongly support May.

What Changed?

  1. Theresa may obtained written assurances from Jean-Claude Juncker about the temporary nature of the backstop. The UK attorney general stated he did not beleieve they were legally binding, but that is just one opinion. Some DUP members started to soften.
  2. Remainers who want a second referendum will have to throw in the towel after today's pathetic performance. At least few are likely to decide in a final vote that May's deal is better than a hard Brexit.
  3. Some key Tories, notably David Davis have stated that May's deal could be acceptable following Juncker's changes. On Tuesday, he unexpectedly voted for May's deal.

Point number three was the key factor for me. I did not expect a change of tune from such formerly strong Brexiteer.

Moreover, it is not beyond Theresa May to pick specific blackmail targets. If only one or two votes shy, she can approach Labour MP and threaten to support a hard Brexit if they don't bend. She could go the other way against Tories depending on what is more likely.

So, don't rule out a fifth successful vote immediately following a fourth failed vote.

No Deal Still on the Table

​Despite the above no-deal is still on the table. The only things that can rule it out are a request to stay in (that will not happen), May's deal, or a deal the EU will accept.

The EU is tired of waiting for the UK. There is no time to work out a deal the EU will accept. Norway or Super-Noway are both likely off the table even if the UK were to accept them.

The EU will want a reason to extend. Mote time to come up with a proposal will not suffice. The EU might not take kindly to bribery attempts either.

Finally, we do not really know what is in May's head. It id 100% clear whet her primary option is. We do not know what her second-best option is. It just might be no-deal.

If a third meaningful vote does not get within striking range, she just might throw in the towel and opt for no-deal. She can always place the blame elsewhere if that happens.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (14)
No. 1-11

I think Theresa should resign and go on an extended (3+ years) holiday to España.


One reliable way for politicians to justify their existence is by dragging decision making for a long, long, long time.


"Finally, we do not really know what is in May's head. It is 100% clear what her primary option is."

Her primary option - Brexit in name only that could be reversed in a few years - is probably the only option she she'll accept as success. Failure means resignation in British politics. However, she will have failed British voters if she cannot do a clean Brexit.

Hopefully, the MPs will not back down at the last minute and agree to her 'deal'.



It is quite possible that the Juncker change does indeed ultimately give the UK an escape clause, especially if May resigns and a Brexit-supporting Tory is put in charge. The clause did look legally-binding to me, but I am not a lawyer. Cox could be wrong, especially because it goes to arbitration, not the ECJ. The change was not insignificant for that reason alone. Call it 50-50 on arbitration rather than 100% EU before revision. I will ask a high-power D.C. attorney friend.


Parliament can't call the 2nd referendum until the EU demands it as a condition for a lengthy delay- the MPs that want the 2nd referendum can't vote for it right now- that much has been clear for a long, long time- they need political cover. I predict the EU will offer an extension in exchange for Parliament voting for a 2nd referendum- the EU may couch this demand as a referendum of "No Deal" vs "May Deal", but then the Remainers will have the cover to make it a 3 way vote, winner take all.


And there is still the possibility that the Remainers will just say, "Fu** it," and vote to rescind the Article 50 notice. The only reason they haven't done that so far isn't because the votes aren't really there, but that they don't want to have to take such position against the result of the 1st referendum, but as "No Deal Brexit" gets closer, they may just bet the farm instead.



"And there is still the possibility that the Remainers will just say, "Fu** it," and vote to rescind the Article 50 notice"

Zero chance - They will not even get the chance - Not even Labour wants that



"Parliament can't call the 2nd referendum until the EU demands it as a condition for a lengthy delay"

The EU doesn't and would not make those demands - It is clear the next move is up to the UK


This is like the Mueller probe. Which will end once Trump is no longer president. Otherwise the democrats won't be able to say 'Wait til the Mueller probe is finished'.


The only thing that can get a majority of votes in the parliament is for extending article 50 and delaying Brexit. However, there is such divided opinion on the various options of how to deal with Brexit that no majority of votes can be found for anything else. In short, the only thing Parliament can agree on is to kick the can down the road. In the end, I think the EU will wind up playing ball and accepting the requested extension.

Further, it is highly likely that this parliamentary stalemate will continue to be the case when the new extension expires requiring yet another extension. We may very well wind up in a situation where the UK remains in permanent limbo, neither leaving or committing to stay.


Any extension will not change anything; UK politics seems incapable of putting together any realistic plan with a clear statement of what they want.