If you work in an industry that gets to have time off over Christmas and the New Year period, you know what it’s like.
You ease your way back into your work, with plenty of procrastination and day-dreaming to see you through the day.
But if you’re the Prime Minister negotiating one of the most monumental deals in UK political history, well, you simply don’t get to enjoy such luxuries.
And when you’ve made a balls-up on the scale of Theresa May and co during the Brexit talks then unfortunately it’s headaches and new grey hairs all-round.
Judgement Day is approaching: on January 15, MPs will vote on the proposed Brexit deal as it stands in the Commons.
Most pundits expect that vote to go rather badly for the PM, and now matters have gotten even worse given the activities in the House of the past couple of days.
A steady welcome to the new working year for Theresa, then!
Three is Not the Magic Number for Brexit Bunglers
Originally, the way it would have worked is that if next Tuesday’s vote is a no – i.e. the MPs vote the current Brexit plan down, then May and co would have had an extra 21 days to come up with a new agreement to get politicians back on side.
But there was a special vote on Wednesday past, where rebel Conservative MPs teamed up with their Labour counterparts to throw an almighty spanner in the works.
Now, thanks to the Commons vote, our Brexit negotiators will have just three days to come up with a reformed plan for our exit from the European Union.
Other alternatives, such as the revoking of Article 50 or a second referendum, could also become more likely at this point.
It was a narrow defeat 308 votes to 297, which suggests the PM has at least retained some support in the House, but it’s another crushing blow her for administration nonetheless. She seems almost destined to walk or be pushed in the first half of 2019.
So What Happens Next?
The meaningful vote, where MPs get to have their say on the current Brexit deal on the table, will go ahead as planned on Tuesday January 15.
Should that draft be rejected, May will have until Monday January 21, in all likelihood, to serve up an alternative.
The vote yesterday shortened the timeframe, and also gave new powers to those in the Commons to seek new ways to ensure the divorce bill is completed without a hitch.
They will be able to vote on a raft of alternatives, including but not limited to a ‘managed’ no deal verdict, a second referendum, a Norway-style option or, most likely, a repackaged version of the current deal, but with changes made to the Irish backstop section, amongst others.
This secondary vote would not be legally binding, and so May and her advisors could choose to ignore it. But at a time when there appears to be no consensus about anything in UK politics – apart from what a huge disaster this whole thing has been – she might be best advised to listen.
And What Are the Chances of Another General Election?
If one massive slab of uncertainty wasn’t enough, Labour have already confirmed they will table a No Confidence motion in the government if Brexit proposals are given the elbow on Tuesday.
That would trigger a General Election under the Fixed Terms Parliament At, but again that would need to be passed by a vote and it is increasingly unlikely that the DUP, key figures in this whole debacle, would turn on the PM unless her Brexit deal – including the now infamous backstop bonanza – was passed.
That said, the bookmakers very rarely get these things wrong, and in their ‘Next General Election Date’ market they have 2019 as their favourite at odds of 6/4.
According to The Guardian, Jeremy Corbyn has already drafted a speech based upon the PM losing the meaningful vote next week, in which he will say: “If the government cannot pass its most important legislation, then there must be a general election at the earliest opportunity.
“A government that cannot get its business through the House of Commons is no government at all.”