Bri­tain ‘un­likely to leave EU in March’ say fore­cast­ers

Yorkshire Post - - POLITICS & ECONOMY -

BRI­TAIN IS un­likely to leave the Euro­pean Union on March 29, the Econ­o­mist In­tel­li­gence Unit has pre­dicted.

The fore­cast­ing group said it ex­pects the Prime Min­is­ter will lose the crit­i­cal “mean­ing­ful vote” on her Brexit deal on Tues­day, and the Gov­ern­ment will then be forced to re­quest an ex­ten­sion to Ar­ti­cle 50. The EIU be­lieves Brus­sels will agree to an ex­ten­sion, mean­ing Bri­tain will re­main in the trade bloc be­yond the planned exit date.

Crash­ing out of the EU with­out a deal is the least likely out­come, ac­cord­ing to the fore­cast, which put the prob­a­bil­ity of a no-deal exit at five per cent. In­stead, the EIU said there was a 40 per cent chance Theresa May’s deal would even­tu­ally be ap­proved by Par­lia­ment in a sub­se­quent vote, after gain­ing fur­ther as­sur­ances from Brus­sels. And it pre­dicted a 30 per cent prob­a­bil­ity of a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum be­ing called to break the po­lit­i­cal dead­lock.

Danielle Har­alam­bous, UK an­a­lyst at the EIU, said: “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. Mrs 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.”

She added: “How­ever, de­lay­ing Brexit does not re­move the down­side risks to the process. With the time it has bought, the Gov­ern­ment can pur­sue a new plan, but it will still be work­ing to­wards a dead­line to re­solve the same deep po­lit­i­cal di­vi­sions over what Brexit should look like.”

Mrs May has warned of a “cat­a­strophic and un­for­giv­able breach of trust” in democ­racy if MPs re­ject her Brexit deal and the UK re­mains in the Euro­pean Union.

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