November 20: The European Commission will agree the declaration on the future of the UK, after which the member states will have 48 hours to offer comments on the declaration.

November 25: EU leaders to approve the draft deal at an emergency European Council  Summit. A Brexit deal must also be signed off by a supermajority (at least 20 states representing 65 per cent of the population) of leaders of member states.

December 1: If the UK fails to sign a formal text with the EU, the UK will have to step up contingency plans for a no deal around December 1.

In December: The British government will have to start a long process of passing the draft agreement through parliament, the biggest hurdle in the process for Mrs May. The UK supreme court ruled parliament must have a meaningful vote on the terms of Brexit. If the deal is rejected by parliament the government would have up to 21 days to put forward a new plan.

There would also be four potential outcomes:

  1. The UK leaves with no deal,
  2. The UK re-negotiates a deal,
  3. A general election is called,
  4. A second referendum is held.

If the deal is passed, the British government would have to pass a new piece of legislation: the EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill.

The EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill would also have to pass the European Parliament, a body comprised of MEPs, by a simple majority (more than 50 per cent).

Assuming the bill passes through all of the European bodies, the UK is due to leave the EU on March 29, 2019, at which point a transition period would begin, lasting until December 2020.

The Vote in the House of Commons

There are 650 members of Parliament in the House of Commons, known as MPs. Of these, the Speaker and his three deputies don’t vote. The seven members of Sinn Fein don’t take their seats. That leaves 639 MPs, so if everyone votes, 320 are needed for a majority.

Voting for May

  1. Conservative Payroll Vote: Around 150: There are 95 Conservative MPs who have some kind of paid government job, and then around 50 more who work as unpaid ministerial assistant. They would have to resign from this job to vote against her.
  2. Conservative Loyalists: Around 85: These are the MPs who don’t care very much about Brexit, or want to move the national conversation on to other things, or hope to further their careers, or who are just loyal. May should be able to count on them.

Possibly Voting with May

  1. Labour Brexiteers: 0-5: These are Labour MPs who believe in Brexit. Five of them have voted with the government, but the story is complicated. One of them, is touring the country attacking May’s as a betrayal of the Brexit cause and has said she’s minded to vote against. Another, can generally be persuaded to vote with Labour if the government might be defeated.
  2. Anxious Labour: 0-20: Labour MPs who represent pro-Brexit districts and who feel the referendum result should be respected, or who fear the impact of uncertainty dragging on and who want the issue resolved. In October, the Tories talked about this as a sizeable number, but on the Labour side, there’s a lot of doubt about that. Labour’s internal pressure group, Momentum, has come out against voting for Brexit. That carries the threat that MPs who vote with the government will be prevented from standing as Labour candidates at the next election. On top of that, if Tory Brexiteers are voting against May’s deal, it’s hard to argue that doing so means you don’t support Brexit in principle.

Probably Voting Against May

  1. Tory Europhiles: Between 0 and 12: Whatever their private views, few Conservatives are willing to say publicly that they think Brexit is a mistake. But some have gone as far as voting against the government with a view to keeping closer ties with the EU. Their vilification at the hands of the pro-Brexit newspapers has hardened their resolve, and a portion of them see voting against May’s deal as a necessary step on the road to a second referendum. But these aren’t temperamental rebels, so Tory whips will hope they can persuade them back into line or at least abstain with warnings of the dangers of a no-deal Brexit.  
  2. The DUP: 10: The Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party has come out strongly against the deal.
  3. Tory Brexiteers: Between 10 and 65: The most important non-party grouping in this debate is the European Research Group, the caucus of Conservatives who want a clean break with the EU. May can’t win without a serious squeeze on the ERG. It’s very hard to judge the voting strength of the ERG because they usually win their battles with the government before a vote is cast. One clue is that 51 Tories have signed up to vote against May’s so-called Chequers blueprint from July, and what’s on offer is arguably an even greater capitulation in the eyes of some hardliners. There are at least 10 people in this group that it’s impossible voting with May.

Definitely Voting Against May

  1. Labour Pro-Europeans: 75: This group have little loyalty to Jeremy Corbyn and could be seduced by a deal that mimicked the EU’s single market, but May has made no effort to win them over, and this deal isn’t going to do it.
  2. Labour Loyalists: 155: Corbyn hasn’t actually said Labour will vote against May’s deal but the party is clearly getting ready to as it markets itself as ‘the government in waiting’. Defeating May on such a monumental vote would be a path to power. If the loses, he would make the case that she should step down and call for snap election even if another vote isn’t scheduled until 2022.
  3. SNP: 35; Lib Dems: 12; Plaid Cymru: 4; Greens: 1: These smaller parties- Scottish and Welsh Nationalists, Liberal Democrats are determined to oppose Brexit. May has no hope of getting any of them on the board.

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