New Times,
New Thinking.

  1. Politics
  2. Brexit
15 February 2019

Theresa May has been defeated over Brexit, yet again. So what’s the way out of the Brexit crisis?

Just 42 days to go, everyone.

By Stephen Bush

Theresa May has been defeated over Brexit in the House of Commons. (Again.) It underlines the major problem with any resolution to the Brexit crisis: there is a parliamentary majority, consisting of the bulk of the Conservative Party, the DUP and ten to 30 Labour MPs, for leaving the European Union under some form of May’s deal. But it can only cohere around a set of demands that cannot be achieved via negotiation with the EU.

There is another parliamentary majority, consisting of the bulk of the Labour Party, the SNP, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, Caroline Lucas and ten to 30 Conservative MPs, that opposes leaving the European Union without a deal. But it cannot cohere around what it wants other than rejecting no deal. 

Something has to give to prevent us leaving without a deal on 29 March. 

Under the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, you need a minimum of 26 working days for an election (parliament has to vote for one, the sovereign has to dissolve parliament and the act itself requires 25 working days). There are just 31 working days left until 29 March so an election means an extension, whether as the last act of the outgoing government or the first act of the incoming one. 

What about another referendum? Well, again, a referendum requires an extension. And the path to a parliamentary majority for an extension, let alone a referendum or an election, is far from clear.

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

What is clear is that the only negotiated outcome that can pass this parliament, without some kind of fresh input from the people, is one that can command the support of the majority of Labour MPs. But it is not certain that there is any resolution to the Brexit crisis that can do that, either. 

Content from our partners
An innovative approach to regional equity
ADHD in the criminal justice system: a case for change – with Takeda
The power of place in tackling climate change