There are only two months to go before Brexit and nothing has been finalised about how we leave the EU.
Tuesday night’s vote saw MPs give their backing to proposals to replace the controversial Irish backstop in the Prime Minister’s withdrawal deal.
Theresa May is now pinning her hopes on fresh talks with EU leaders. However, Brussels has insisted it will not budge.
There will also need to be a second ‘meaningful vote’ in Parliament.
So, where do we go from here and why does it feel like Groundhog Day?
Theresa May, pictured with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, will head back to Brussels for more talks (Picture: AFP)Heading to Brussels
MPs voted 317 to 301 in favour of replacing the backstop – the insurance policy designed to avoid a hard border in Ireland in the event of no deal.
Mrs May has vowed to seek ‘legally binding’ changes to the Withdrawal Agreement with the European Union.
She will need to head back to Brussels to reopen negotiations but has not yet given a firm date for that to happen.
Any potential revised deal will return to the Commons on February 14 to be voted on.
There are obviously fears that any new deal could also be rejected by Parliament.
Unless Article 50 is extended (which requires approval from all the other EU states) then we are on course to crash out without a deal on March 29.
European Council President Donald Tusk has already said the agreement is not up for further discussion (Picture: AFP)What will Brussels do?
Mrs May faces a formidable challenge convincing Brussels to re-open talks that took 18 excruciating months to conclude.
She says that parliament’s approval of the backstop amendment now gives her a ‘mandate’ to seek to obtain legally-binding changes to the withdrawal agreement.
However there seems to be little appetite in the EU to talk again.
Key figures in Brussels, including President of the European Council Donald Tusk, has said the deal struck last November is not open for renegotiation.
The European Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator, Guy Verhofstadt, said there was ‘no majority to re-open or dilute’ the agreement.
French President Emmanuel Macron said it was already ‘the best agreement possible.’ Germany, arguably the most powerful nation in the EU, is yet to comment.
What could happen is she comes back with clarifications, dressed up as concessions.
Mr Tusk has said the EU might be willing to look at the political declaration again – part of the deal that makes a pledge on the future relationship between the UK and the EU.
He added they would ‘stand ready’ to consider any ‘reasoned request’ for an extension to the scheduled leave date.
Analysts have said Mrs May is essentially playing for time. She is returning to Brussels to argue for something she knows she can’t win.
It could possibly prove to her critics that it is her original deal, no deal or no Brexit.
Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn will meet Theresa May on Wednesday to discuss a way forward (Picture: AFP)What about Labour?
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had originally boycotted cross-party talks after the Commons rejection of the Withdrawal Agreement by a record 230 votes on January 15.
He had wanted Mrs May to rule out no-deal before coming to the table to discuss.
On Tuesday night, an amendment rejecting a no-deal Brexit won the support of Parliament. The vote, however, was not binding and we could still crash out.
Mr Corbyn has said he is now ready to meet Mrs May to discuss a ‘sensible Brexit solution that works for the whole country.’
He has also called on the Prime Minister to ‘face the reality that no-deal is not an option.’
Mrs May is also set to meet with Tory MP Caroline Spelman, Labour MP Jack Dromey and others who tabled amendments to prevent a no-deal to discuss how to move forward.
She has said the government plans to ‘redouble its efforts’ to get a deal the House can support.
That paves the way for a plan known as the Malthouse compromise, which offers an alternative to the backstop.
It would extend the transition period for a year and protect EU citizens’ rights, instead of using the backstop.
Labour could still table more motions of no confidence in the government at any time.
Parliament will vote again in February (Picture: Reuters)Can we delay Brexit?
The EU has said it would be open to discussions to delay Brexit. However, that is looking less likely.
On Tuesday, MPs rejected two proposals to delay by extending the Article 50 negotiation process. It seems we will leave on March 29.
A second meaningful vote
Whatever happens in negotiations between Mrs May and Brussels will need to be voted on again by MPs in Parliament, known as a meaningful vote.
If Mrs May doesn’t manage to get any adjustments over the backstop and comes back to the House with exactly the same deal, there could be problems.
There is a general principle that MPs shouldn’t be asked to consider the same question twice in a single session. Speaker John Bercow will get to decide whether they vote again.
Mrs May lost the first meaningful vote by an astonishing 230 votes, meaning many minds will have to change to get it through.
It’s still a mess (Picture: Rex)What about no-deal?
Mrs May had said she would not rule out no-deal in order to strengthen her negotiating hand with the EU.
However, MPs voted on Tuesday to block a no-deal. While it is not legally binding, it proves that Parliament would prefer to have something on the table than crash out.
But Parliament need to agree to some kind of deal. If they don’t, the default position is a no-deal Brexit
Is another referendum off the cards?
There is still the possibility of a second referendum. However, it is too late to hold one before March 29 so Article 50 would need to be extended.
Mrs May has made it clear she doesn’t want another public vote on the issue. For now, she is pinning her hopes on talking to Brussels, who may well offer her nothing substantially new.
What are the odds?
Investment banking group Goldman Sachs raised its probability of a no-deal Brexit to 15% from 10% based on Tuesday’s vote.
The odds of a delayed Brexit are now at 50% while the probability of no Brexit at all is now at 35%, down from 40%.