Theresa May was hoping to get the number of votes against here deal under 50.That goal did not come close.
It is safe to rule out May's deal unless the EU provided a guaranteed end to the backstop, with a stated timeline. The EU is unlikely to comply.
May will offer parliament a vote on No-Deal tomorrow. That vote will fail.
Then on Thursday, the UK parliament will vote on asking for an extension. That will pass, but it isn't legally binding.
There will not be a lengthy extension, unless it some in the form of a Malthouse Compromise in which the UK leaves, but the UK and EU take up to three years to work out an alliterative to the backstop.
Note that such an extension would be to work out a trade deal, not an extension that keeps the UK in the EU.
Those points are not just the opinions of Wolfgang Munchau, but rather the stated ruling of the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
Note to Remoaners
There will not be an extension that goes beyond two months at max.
The default position has not changed. It remains no-deal Brexit.
Parliamentary votes to request an extension does not have to be honored by the EU at all.
This is precisely why votes by the UK parliament are meaningless.
The EU has to agree.
Last evening, Eurointelligence commented:
We haven't got the foggiest idea whether last night's Brexit agreement between Jean-Claude Juncker and Theresa May will be enough for her to gain a Commons majority. [Nor did I. It came down to what Cox stated.]
Another potentially more important piece of news caught our eye. We have been warning readers not to take a three-month extension for granted. As the Guardian's Brussels correspondent reports, at least some EU officials share that view, according to which the UK will be "legally obliged to hold these [European] elections, in line with the rights and obligations of all member states."
In its Brexit revocation ruling the ECJ made it absolutely clear that the UK enjoyed all the rights of a full EU member all the way until its final exit. Then, surely, it must also have all the obligations. [That is why an extension will not be longer than 2 months]
We cannot even see that an extension until May 23 is an easy ask, for the simple reason that EU leaders would make themselves vulnerable to blackmail if the UK were scheduled to crash out of the EU on the eve of the elections.
A far more plausible extension date would therefore be end-April - to be followed by a second short technical extension to approve a deal so long as this happens before the European elections. In other words, if the UK parliament were to reject the withdrawal deal for a final time before the end of March, the probability that the UK would crash out of the EU without a deal at the end of April would be very large indeed.
Also consider parliamentary holidays: The official Easter recess of the UK parliament is between March 29 and April 16. This would leave only a couple of weeks after than. There is another week of recess in May - from May 3 to May 8. So, even a May 23 extension is not going to buy enough time for a substantive parliamentary process. And we cannot see Theresa May and the Tory Party easily agreeing to hold European elections.
Odds of No-Deal Brexit
The bottom-line assessment of Eurointelligence is interesting, and believable.
The eurosceptics' reluctance to approve the deal is clearly risky from their perspective, but not nearly as irrational as it would appear. There really is a chance of a no-deal, and in our view it outweighs the chance of a Brexit reversal.
I agree with that conclusion, and have all along. Votes in the UK parliament tomorrow do not mean a damn.
Assessing the Risks
The risk for the pro-brexit crowd is the UK agrees to a customs union or agrees to remain. The latter is not viable at all IMO.
The risk for the remainers is the UK parliament cannot agree to anything. In that case it's no-deal Brexit.
Unless there is an agreement to do something that the EU accepts, Brexit occurs by default.
That is the chance the Brexiters took today, by an overwhelming margin.
Are they correct in their assessment? I think so.
Moreover, I listened to the debate in Parliament long after the vote. I am still listening now (3:09 PM Central). May refused to take no deal off directly, state what timeline extensions the UK might seek, etc.
There is a very real chance that "no-deal" is May's fallback position. If so, no-deal is nearly certain. However, no one really knows what's on her mind.
Assessing the Blame
Should No-Deal happen, Labour can blame themselves. They could have supported May's deal today and didn't.
They can also blame May for having the negotiation skills of a plucked chicken.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock