THE deadlock over Brexit has triggered another election – but whether going to the polls will actually resolve the crisis remains to be seen.

With potential outcomes including a hung parliament, another referendum or a renegotiation of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, the way forward is far from certain.

Joe Owen, Brexit programme director at think tank the Institute for Government, said the resolution of Brexit depends much on whichever party gets the keys for Downing Street – and the numbers of MPs they secure.

But he warned: “There is a temptation on Brexit to always think an event a few weeks away is going to be a breakthrough moment.

“Pretty much every time it has not been a breakthrough and we can’t carry on muddling on – but there is every chance this could happen again with this.”

Here we look at the most likely scenarios resulting from the General Election – including how Parliament might end up right back where it started from.


AT Labour’s election campaign launch, Jeremy Corbyn confirmed plans for a second referendum and pledged to “sort” Brexit within six months.

He outlined proposals for his party to renegotiate a deal with the EU and then put it back to another vote – which would include revoking Article 50 if the majority is for Remain.

However, it is unknown what Labour’s new “credible Leave” plan would look like – and there would be little time in which to negotiate before a referendum to meet the six-month deadline.

Owen said: “We know they don’t like Boris Johnson’s deal, but we know that Keir Starmer has said on the record in terms of the legal text of the withdrawal agreement that Theresa May negotiated, Labour were relatively happy with it – they just didn’t like the political declaration. “So would you end up in a scenario where Labour say to the EU we would quite like Theresa May’s deal now, but we will change the political declaration to talk about customs union and single market relationship?

“There is also the timing – as Labour have said they want to hold a referendum within six months they would need to immediately start legislating for a referendum. “So it would most likely not be until right before the regulated 10-week campaign period began that people knew what the Leave option was.

“There is a big issue for Labour of how do they make sure that it is seen as a credible Leave option?”


UNDER this scenario, a Labour government would hold a referendum, but the result would still be to leave – which means they could stay in power and pass a “softer” Brexit.

Owen said one issue here would be whether they passed their own Withdrawal Agreement Bill beforehand in order for it to be a “true confirmatory referendum”.

He said: “A post-legislative referendum would mean the result of that referendum decides whether or not that piece of law comes into force or not. It is a clear choice.

“Everyone talks about the 2016 referendum as being advisory – it was advisory in the sense the alternative is to have a kind of post-legislative referendum, which is says we have passed this legislation.

“If the response to the referendum is yes to that change, that change automatically happens. “So Labour could do that and if the result was still to Leave, their deal would automatically come into force.”


THE election could result in a minority Labour-led government, which would have to rely on the SNP and LibDems to push through another referendum.

But if there was another Leave vote, there is a question of whether that support would continue if Labour had not passed its own Brexit bill beforehand.

Owen said: “If Labour require other parties to support their policy it is a risk.

“Would the SNP and the LibDems say ‘ok fine, we’ll help you pass your new Brexit deal’, or would the SNP and LibDems say ‘look this is your deal, we don’t support it and you are on your own now’?

The National: Brexit programme director at think tank Institute for Government, Joe OwenBrexit programme director at think tank Institute for Government, Joe Owen

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“Labour are then facing the prospect of being stuck without the numbers to pass the deal that has been approved by a referendum.”

“Everyone also may not agree on what exactly the terms of the referendum are, whether it is including votes for EU citizens or 16-year-olds and over. “Labour might find they have in principle a working majority, but in practice can’t actually get all the necessary MPs to all vote the way they need, which is the same problem that Theresa May had.”


ANOTHER result could be the Conservatives are the largest party, but still without a majority.

This would bring up the question of how they would get support to get a deal through.

Owen said: “At least on the big issue of the day which is Brexit, with Labour you can see how there is some similarities with the LibDems and the SNP and how a deal gets done there. For the Conservatives, who can they turn to? There is the DUP, who I’m sure might have a grin on their face if they get called up and asked to support them. They will probably say the price is changes to that deal.

“Likewise if the Brexit Party do well, they might say you need to change or get rid of that deal, and that is the scenario where there is the potential for stalemate and there is the potential for a No Deal.

“Then the anti-Brexit parties and a small number of Conservative MPs could also then try to stop No Deal. So that scenario could lead you right back to where we are now.”


THE Conservatives could get a small majority which allows the Withdrawal Agreement Bill to pass in January, with the UK leaving the EU by January 31 next year.

However, Owen pointed out the “super-tricky and very contentious” next phase of Brexit would then get under way – which is negotiations over the future relationship with the EU.

He said: “At the moment within the Conservative Party there still are competing visions of the future – there are those who think we need a closer relationship with the EU and those who want a more distant relationship with the EU in order to do more and have more regulatory freedom.

“If you have a tiny majority, how do you hold all of those people together for those contentious issues you are going to have to make – as some people will be losers?

“There are also other specific issues where things could be contentious – one example is fishing and this is one of the things where on a more granular level who gets seats where will also be important. “So the size of Boris Johnson’s majority will determine the potential he has got for trade-offs.”


HOWEVER, if Johnson wins a large majority, he will have more flexibility to push for what he wants in the future relationship negotiations.

Owen said: “If Boris Johnson wins a big majority, he could decide to, for example, stay in a customs union or go for other options less popular with his party.

“If he had a majority of more than 50 and he might say – not withstanding all of the times he has argued against it – ‘I think this is the best thing to do, even though I could lose 50 of my MPs’.

“But he would be able to do that potentially, in a way that you cannot if you have fewer MPs.”

“You could argue a big victory for Boris Johnson emboldens him to go back to Brussels and negotiate which is in some ways true, but it also makes it much easier for him to make concessions, because he can still get things through Parliament even without those tighter numbers.”