They say a week is a long time in politics, but the next five days will prove crucial for Theresa May as she aims to persuade parliament that her Brexit deal is the best deal for the country. So, what will the next five days entail and what could potentially happen?
Contempt of parliament
In response to calls from the Labour Party, Liberal Democrats, Scottish National Party (SNP), Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Plaid Cymru and the Green Party that the government is in contempt of parliament, John Bercow, speaker of the House of commons has said there was “an arguable case that a contempt of parliament has been committed.”
Today, the first order of business will be for the House of Commons to vote on the allegation that the government was in contempt of parliament as a result of the Attorney general not disclosing the full legal advice given to the cabinet on the EU withdrawal agreement.
Advocates of the withdrawal agreement will say that this is a delay tactic by opposition parties, and those opposed to Theresa May’s plan would argue that given what’s at stake parliament needs to know what advice was given to the cabinet in order to make an informed decision when it comes to the meaningful vote which takes place on the 11 December.
If the House of Commons vote that the government was in contempt of parliament, then the matter could, potentially be referred to the House of Commons Privileges Committee, who will investigate the complaint, whether that would delay the Brexit debate is largely unknown, but it is widely speculated that the government will table an amendment which could result in the government publishing the Attorney General’s advice to the government on the EU withdrawal agreement.
Over the course of the next five days all eyes will be on the House of Commons as the UK debates the EU withdrawal agreement, with the meaningful vote taking place on the 11 December. There are only two outcomes of the meaningful vote:
The government gets the proposed withdrawal agreement passed through parliament, as protocol, it would go to the House of Lords to be debated, which could see further amendments being included and sent back to the House of Commons for a further debate before royal assent is given.
EU Withdrawal bill is voted down
The withdrawal agreement is voted down by parliament. This would be a devastating blow not only to the government, but to Theresa May’s credibility and the potential consequences of the government losing the vote on the EU withdrawal bill could be far reaching which could result in:
A vote of no confidence
The Labour Party has already indicated that it will table a motion of no confidence in the current government. For a vote of no confidence to be passed “a number equal to or greater than two thirds of the number of seats in the House” must vote for it. This is a real possibility given the numbers against the proposed withdrawal bill.
The vote of no confidence would most likely result in a General Election, with parties likely to pledge a second Brexit referendum as part of their election manifesto commitment, but the question is, will remain be an option on the ballot.