Boris Johnson vowed to deliver Brexit by 31 October “do or die” – but the UK is about to celebrate the fourth Christmas season since the referendum without having left the European Union.
Before the festive celebrations get under way, voters have to go to the polls to elect a new government. So once that is over, will Brexit finally “get done”?
What if the Conservatives win?
Johnson may have failed in his quest to take Britain out of the EU by 31 October, but he is now fighting for a majority with the intention of making sure we leave by the latest deadline of 31 January.
The Independent reports that should the Tories return a majority, the Queen’s Speech will be “fast-tracked and held before Christmas” as part of a plan to “ram through [Johnson’s] Brexit deal within weeks”.
Allies of the PM say he is aiming to deliver a “cathartic moment” by getting his withdrawal agreement through the Commons quickly and moving on to negotiating the UK’s future relationship with the EU27.
What if Labour win?
While the polls suggest it is not looking likely, a Labour majority would see the party implement its slightly more complex plan to get Brexit sorted within six months.
The BBC reports that Labour will first go back to Brussels with the aim of renegotiating Johnson’s Brexit deal, before putting that agreement to another public vote. On the ballot paper in that referendum would be what Labour calls a “credible Leave option” – meaning its own renegotiated withdrawal agreement – and Remain.
Labour is not supporting Remain or Leave during the general election campaign, but has said it would decide its position ahead of a second referendum at a specially organised conference during 2020.
The party says the second referendum would take place “within six months”, with the Constitution Unit at University College London saying it would take a minimum of 22 weeks to organise another referendum.
What if there is a hung parliament?
This is the least clear outcome, as the Tories may not be able to go into coalition or form an agreement with another party, while the opposition parties all have slightly different Brexit policies.
The other parties have so far signalled that they are unlikely to go into coalition with the Conservatives.
The DUP has said that Johnson’s withdrawal agreement is unacceptable, with leader Arlene Foster vowing that her party will “continue to use our influence” to revisit elements of his Brexit deal after the election, according to the Daily Express.
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That means that if the Tories do not win an overall majority, Johnson’s deal looks dead in the water.
Should the opposition parties go into coalition – or form an arrangement to allow Labour to form a minority government – some negotiations would have to take place to hammer out a Brexit policy that is acceptable to all involved.
The Lib Dems stand for revoking Article 50 altogether if they win a majority, but have said they would back a second referendum if there is a hung parliament, while the Scottish National Party has also pushed for a second referendum to “escape Brexit and put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands”.
Quite how negotiations between Labour, the Lib Dems and the SNP would work out is anybody’s guess. What is slightly clearer is that in the event of a hung parliament, a pro-European pact is the most likely to emerge.
Would Remain win a second referendum?
Voters now back remaining part of the EU, according to an average of six polls carried out between 19 November and 30 November.
An average of 52% would now vote to remain in the EU, versus 48% who would vote to leave.