Brexit has convulsed the United Kingdom like no other political event in decades, but it can be hard to follow the day-to-day machinations. At the end of a chaotic week, here’s what to know.
How different are things now for the U.K. than they were on Monday?
Considerably. It is now clear that after two years of negotiating a Brexit withdrawal arrangement with the European Union, the United Kingdom is highly unlikely to leave on the planned exit date, March 29. Next week, Prime Minister Theresa May is almost certain to ask for an extension. How much time she requests will depend on whether she can get her deal through Parliament early next week.
How likely is it that the EU will approve an extension?
Likely. All 27 remaining EU countries must agree, and there are genuine divisions, but the EU is expected to say yes. That’s because it’s not seen in anyone’s interest — except some hard-core “Brexiteers” in Britain’s Parliament — for the United Kingdom to crash out of what is effectively the world’s second-largest economy.
If the EU approves an extension now, will the U.K. call on it later to approve more extensions?
That’s a major EU concern. It is already exasperated with the chaos in Britain’s Parliament. Officials in Brussels have made it clear they want either a short delay — or a very long one. They don’t want rolling cliff-edges.
May has outlined a plan. She wants to bring back her zombie-like Brexit deal — which Parliament has already twice voted down by staggering margins — for another vote before a meeting of EU leaders on Thursday, March 21. If it passes, she will ask for an extension until June 30, which is just before a new European Parliament will be seated. If her deal fails, she will ask for a longer extension — which she has hinted could kill Brexit.
If the longer extension is granted, what will happen during that extension period?
The U.K. government and Parliament will have to figure out…