Brexit unlikely to happen by end of March, says top forecaster

Brexit is unlikely to happen by the deadline of 29th March, says the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). The respected forecasting group say that Theresa May will lose the crucial Brexit vote on Tuesday, and her government will be forced to ask for an extension to leave.

Leaving on a no-deal basis is the least likely outcome according to the EIU forecast, which put the probability at just 5%. This comes after news that May is expected to say that the UK remaining in the EU is more likely than a no-deal Brexit.

There is now a 30 per cent probability of a second referendum being called to break the political deadlock, according to the EIU forecast. The longer the impasse lasts, the more likely a second vote will be used to give one particular plan “legitimacy”.

“Time is simply running out, and we’re at a stage where Brexit can probably only happen in late March now, in the unlikely event that parliament approves Mrs May’s deal on January 15th or if parliament supports leaving without a deal.

“For all other options the government will need to buy more time, and we think the EU will be willing to provide it to avoid a cliff-edge situation.

“Ms May and her government are not prepared to run down the Article 50 clock and leave the EU without a withdrawal agreement and transition arrangements in place, although this remains a possible Brexit outcome later in 2019.”

Meanwhile, a cross-party group of anti-Brexit politicians has published proposed legislation to bring about a second referendum. The draft bill recommends that the public be asked whether they want to remain in the EU or leave under the prime minister’s deal.

The legislation could be introduced through the House of Lords under plans being considered by the group. The MPs recommend the ballot paper be worded: “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union on the negotiated terms?”

Tory MP and former attorney general Dominic Grieve said the bill provides an “escape hatch” if there is no majority in parliament for Ms May’s deal or the no-deal option.

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