British politicians have spent weeks bickering over whether a no-deal Brexit should be “off the table.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson argued that leaving the option open would strengthen his hand in the EU negotiations. According to that logic, European leaders would be more willing to compromise if they could see the risk of economic damage stemming from a chaotic Brexit was real.
But the opposition, along with 21 rebel Conservatives, was unwilling to risk the prosperity of their voters and pushed through a bill that says the Prime Minister must ask for an extension unless a deal is reached.
The bill is set to become a law soon, but that’s not the end of it. As things stand the UK is due to leave the EU without a deal on October 31.
To truly remove that risk, the UK will now have to convince the rest of the European Union to give it more time. The EU has already granted the UK two Brexit extensions, and has not yet indicated whether a third one is possible.
Speaking on Thursday, Mina Andreeva, the chief Spokesperson for the European Commission said any extension would have to be for a good reason:
If we were to receive a request for an extension then it’s up to the member states of the 27 EU countries to unanimously agree to any such request and any such request would have to be for a good reason, what that reason will be, once it’s provided and how it will be assessed we can speak about that once it actually happened.
But even if the EU agrees to the extension, the risk of no deal doesn’t go away entirely.
Johnson has called for an early election, hoping to secure a larger majority that would overrule the current Parliament.
It is also unclear what would happen after the proposed extension expires.
While there is no majority in the UK Parliament for the original withdrawal deal, negotiated by Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May, a suitable alternative hasn’t been found either.
If that does not happen, the UK will likely be back at square one after the extension ends.