GIVEN the damage that a no-deal Brexit would do – economically, socially and politically – is there really a chance that it will happen? With two months to go until Brexit day, there are warnings a-plenty as to what no-deal Brexit may mean.

From Chancellor Philip Hammond’s restrained but frank admission that a no-deal Brexit would cause short-term disruption and a long term reduction in the size of the economy, to the Airbus CEO appealing for MPs not to listen to the “Brexiteers’ madness”, most – apart from the Rees-Mogg band of Brexiters – recognise the damage no deal would do.

Westminster clearly has a majority against a no-deal Brexit. But that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. For a no-deal Brexit to be ruled out, either MPs must pass May’s deal with the EU in the next few weeks or they must agree on another route ahead.

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Westminster could call for a People’s Vote – but there’s no majority for that yet, not least as Labour dithers. Or MPs could agree to ask the EU to change the political declaration on the UK’s future relationship with the EU – perhaps to emphasise a customs union and/or single market outcome.

But for now May will not agree to a customs union approach for fear it will split the Tory party. And there’s no majority for anything else either, nor even yet agreement to hold indicative votes on options.

UK politics is in an acute crisis and failing to an extraordinary degree. Calls from the Queen and the Archbishops of Canterbury (pictured below) and York for political reconciliation only underline the absence of serious political leadership. UK politics is not in a rational place. The deep divisions within and across parties, and across the UK, testify to a political system teetering on the brink. So a no-deal Brexit could yet happen.

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Businesses are implementing contingency plans and delaying, cancelling or moving investment. Brussels and the EU member states are making what plans they can.

But even with contingency planning it would be chaotic. Stock markets and sterling would plunge. There would be chaos at ports and airports – and that chaos would threaten transport, manufacturing (not least but not only the car industry), services, food and medicine supplies and more.

Theresa May has said the 3 million EU citizens living in the UK would have their rights protected in the face of no-deal – and a number of individual EU member states, including Germany and Italy, have said the same for UK citizens in those countries.

But uncertainty will remain. And, without the transition period to end December 2020, only EU citizens in the UK before March 29, 2019, would be covered.

A no-deal Brexit would leave the UK’s already Brexit-damaged international reputation in tatters. The UK would have left the EU while reneging on its financial commitments, with scant regard for creating a hard Irish border, and with no concern for the impact on its European allies.

The Irish Central Bank said on Friday that a no-deal Brexit would lead to food shortages, higher prices and a large fall in growth in Ireland. The UK risks being a very bad neighbour.

Perhaps MPs will vote to request an extension to Article 50. But that needs unanimous EU agreement. And it only puts off the time when MPs have to decide what they’re for, not only what they’re against.

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Until now, it’s seemed the EU would refuse an extension unless the UK had a clear majority for a realistic route ahead. But as EU observers watch the UK’s imploding politics, some, including one of Angela Merkel’s key advisers, have suggested perhaps there could be a short extension – if so, it would solve little. Or, as the UK stares at the no deal cliff edge, parliament could unilaterally revoke Article 50. It’s a sane option but one Westminster looks unlikely to take.

If a no-deal Brexit goes ahead, what will the political reaction in Scotland be? In the chaos of a no-deal Brexit, many may decide, with hindsight, that Nicola Sturgeon’s ill-fated independence referendum call in March 2017 was wise after all.

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A no-deal Brexit would surely raise the temperature of the independence debate. And if a Section 30 order were asked for but refused (both quite likely) would the Scottish Government head off on a path that until now it’s not wanted to consider and call for an indicative referendum, appealing to the Scottish public amidst the chaos of a no-deal Brexit UK.

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Any form of Brexit is damaging to the UK and to Scotland. But a no-deal Brexit would cause a deep political and economic crisis. How Scotland would respond in that storm is for now an open question.