No-Deal Brexit is the Most Likely Outcome: 2nd Referendum the Least Likely


Forget about a 2nd referendum or an election saving the day. I make a strong case why no-deal is the most likely outcome

Theresa May's "sell the farm" deal went down in flames today. What's Next?

The UK "Remainers" are cheering today's vote as if they have a chance at a second referendum. It's theoretically possible, but it's the least likely outcome.

Reasons Against Second Referendum

  1. People don't want it.
  2. MPs don't want it.
  3. The EU is highly unlikely to wait for one
  4. Heck, no one even knows how to word it

Once again, the default position is a no-deal Brexit. In the absence of any other agreement that the EU would accept, no-deal wins.

In regards to point number 4, there are many choices: stay, leave with no deal, leave with May's deal, leave with a Canada deal, leave with a Norway deal.

It is ridiculous to expect the UK to wait for the UK. And it is equally ridiculous to expect Parliament to offer a straight-up stay-leave choice when the majority of the MPs want to leave.

As a theoretical exercise, it's possible for the EU to grant a lengthy extension, but they said they wouldn't.

It's far more likely proponents of "remain" actually cause a no-deal Brexit by clinging to ridiculous hopes. Let's investigate more likely outcomes.

What's Next?

Corbyn tabled a motion of no confidence. Unlike motions from within the party, there is no limit to the number of times he may try that tactic.

Parliament votes on his motion tomorrow at 7:00 PM local, 1:00 PM US Central.

Corbyn will likely will lose. The reason is DUP will not want to put Labour in charge, and will thus back May.

DUP's Position

DUP does not seal the deal as it is possible all the opposition parties could vote "no" along with enough Tories remainers who would be willing to risk an election.

No Vote

If there was a "no confidence" motion, the Tories would have 14 days to find someone who could muster a majority, and it would have to be a majority that DUP would support.

May Could Resign

May could resign tomorrow, and she should, but that too is unlikely.

If she resigned, Tories would have 14 days to find someone who could muster a majority, and again it would have to be a majority that DUP would support.

If no such candidate could muster a majority, then there would be elections.


Elections are possible, but it's unlikely the EU would grant a lengthy Brexit extension.

If not, then a no-deal Brexit would win out.

No-Deal Wins by Default

No matter how one twists and turns, a no-deal Brexit is the default option.

If at some point a majority for a Norway deal surfaced, DUP could scuttle it by siding with Labour in a motion of no confidence. Corbyn would likely chomp at the bit.

That would again take us back to this pertinent point: Tories would have 14 days to find someone who could muster a majority, and it would have to be a majority that DUP would support.

Boris Johnson

The above complications all point to May being outed and replaced by Johnson, who wants a hard Brexit.

Alternatively, May could finally get her way on the pathetic deal she negotiated.

EU Response

The only wildcard left is the EU. If the EU offered a hard guarantee there would be no permanent backstop, May's deal could potentially garner enough support.

No-Deal Brexit Most Likely Outcome

Given what happened today, and based on the above analysis, a no deal Brexit is the most likely state of affairs, one way or another.

Many paths lead to a no-deal outcome.

There are too many possibilities to say no-deal is likely. Rather, it's the most likely option of the bunch.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (22)
No. 1-12

WTO-trade-Brexit is a better name for a NO deal Brexit.


Hate to disagree with you but here goes.

  1. There is zero chance of Johnson becoming PM. He is hated by too many people in his own party. His opponents routinely call him out as a liar to his face and you know how British libel laws work yet nary a squeak from him. The BBC finished an interview with him by saying " You are a nasty piece of work aren't you?" and Boris just had to take it. I haven't got a link but there is a recording of him talking to a convicted drug dealer mate about arranging to assault a UK journalist. ( Google Boris Johnson and Darius Guppy to confirm.)
  2. The most likely outcome is no Brexit preceded by a new referendum. Mrs May now has to choose which part of her party she will alienate. Once she does that the Tory party splits. She has to choose whether to go for a hard or soft brexit, an impossible choice for her which guarantees the fall of her government.
  3. I recommend This is an excellent blog written by Dr Richard North, a founder of UKIP and brexiteer. His criticism of Dominic Raab, the last Brexit Secretary, who discovered late in the day that Britain was an island and totally dependent on the Calais-Dover route for food deliveries was particularly scathing of the crass nature of the brexiteers in May's government. Perhaps you can answer a question. Why do Americans admire charlatans like Johnson?

Tory remainers would be very stupid to vote with Labour on the no confidence vote because they would likely be voted out if there were new elections.

I think May will be supported until the WTO-trade-Brexit aka NO deal Brexit happens 29th March 2019 so despite May trying to in effect sabotage Brexit with her stupid and incompetent Deal (that would have started years of negotiations on the final terms of UK-EU relationship and that had the backstop-Prison with EU having the key to the lock) she will be in history books as the PM who fulfilled Brexit.

Sometime after Brexit has happened Tories will vote no confidence on May in parliament if Labour will call the no confidence vote again and have it already planned out who will get support from Tories and DUP within 14 days and just continue governing with new PM.

Another option is internal Tory vote of confidence 1 year from the last one to just switch May to somebody else inside Tories.


Mish may wel be right about a no-deal default. At the same time, it would be paradoxical since every one on all sides (EU [particularly Germany and the Netherlands] British, remainers, most Brexiteers) would rather have that good relations continue, and that any deal, no matter how minimal, would be a notch better than none at all.


Bull-headed has a new synonym and that is Theresa May! Or her actions are questionable in its intent!!

"May had no plans to head to Brussels immediately, No 10 said, implying that the prime minister first needed to test what would be acceptable to MPs." (source:

In fact when it has been clear all along that the deal was not acceptable to a majority of MPs (and thus would lose the floor test) May should have tested what is acceptable to MPs much earlier. How is it only a historic defeat gets you thinking?

While May portrays that she is trying to get the best deal possible for Leave, her actions reeks of duplicity.


As recession creeps into the EU economy, they will need Germany and Britain to bail out the rest of the nations... not one, but both is the only thing that will keep the EU charade going. Let's see how that goes.


Hmm... I don't see big moves in both currency and stock markets on the news.



"Tory remainers would be very stupid to vote with Labour on the no confidence vote because they would likely be voted out if there were new elections."

My expectation but not necessarily stupid. If May is gone Tories would have 14 days to replace her.



"WTO-trade-Brexit is a better name for a NO deal Brexit."

Precisely - Expect a "managed" Brexit


"MPs don't want it".

We in the UK know that most MPs want to remain in the EU. Politicians have a proclivity for anything that means more government. They are kept in check by the fear of backlash that might happen if they decide to override the Brexit vote. The fact that it would signal the end of democracy if they either cancel Brexit or call another vote doesnt worry them so much as that potential backlash. If we do manage to escape the clutches of the EU, we may well have the gilets jaunes to thank for our freedom.


Reasons for the 2nd referendum:

The elites want it.


Ah, Mish, you still don't get it. Parliament had a near super-majority that wants to remain in the EU- the Tory-Remain faction in Parliament, of which May is a member by the way, needed to create as much chaos as possible to get that 2nd referendum. The EU, in the meantime has already prepared the ground for this by indicating that a delay is perfectly ok and that a choice to Remain is legal- they will make this explicit by the end of the month. A motion in Parliament will be put forward and will pass with the minimal number of votes that sets up the 2nd referendum for sometime in July. I predict the referendum will have three choices- May Brexit Deal, No-Deal Brexit, and Remain. Even allowing people a conditional vote (1st choice, 2nd choice), the presences of two Brexit options will greatly depress Brexit turnout as the Brexiteer engage in political warfare with each other- Remain will likely win a majority.

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