11:38 GMT01 April 2020
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    With British Prime Minister Theresa May surviving a vote of confidence earlier this week, Sputnik spoke to journalist Marcus Stead about Brexit developments.

    Sputnik: Should there be a second Brexit referendum?

    Marcus Stead: A second referendum is not going to happen because of the sheer logistics of it. To get another referendum you need to do the following; the first thing you need to do is revoke article fifty, then you need to get legislation for the referendum through the House of Commons.

    Then you need to decide what's going to be on the ballot paper and that in itself is quite a task. Will it be Mrs May's deal, no deal or remain, or will remain be on the ballot paper? Once you've done that, you've then got to give the electoral commission six months' notice; which is what they require to run a referendum, and then you need to appoint official campaigns for both sides, and there's no way that that's going to happen in time for the twenty-ninth of March 2019.

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    Sputnik: What will be the likely outcome of the ongoing political stalemate over Brexit?

    Marcus Stead: It's clear that there's no parliamentary majority for any of the options. To give you an idea of the extent of the deadlock; any option needs the backing of three hundred and twenty MPs for it to get through the house, which is half the House of Commons.

    Mrs May's deal has about a hundred and ninety-six, a so-called hard Brexit is backed by one hundred and sixteen, the official Labour opposition policy is backed by one hundred and fifty, a so-called soft Brexit, i.e. the Norway option is backed by forty-four, and a second referendum is backed by a hundred and thirty-three, so whichever way you look at it, we are in a state of parliamentary deadlock.

    Now what I think is going to happen; Mrs May has gone to Brussels, she's said to the nineteen twenty-two committee that she's going to seek legal reassurances on the backstop,  and she's come back this morning with absolutely nothing.

    Now in one sense, she might be glad of that, because if she'd come back with something she'd have to put it before the House of Commons next week before the Christmas recess and she didn't really want to do that.

    What I think will happen is; that they'll come back in the new year and the stark reality of a no-deal Brexit will face parliament and I think that the Norway option, i.e. EFTA and EEAA membership will begin to look a lot more attractive, and there's a glimmer of hope for a parliamentary consensus on that. If that doesn't happen, then we are looking at a no deal Brexit.

    If we were to join the European Free Trade Area; as Norway is, we would be inside the single market but outside the customs union, so the most important thing for Brexit to be a success is that we are outside the customs union, so we can form trade deals with the wider world.

    So far as the single market goes; I have no great objections to single market membership. What concerns me though is this talk of Norway plus, where the plus is being used as a means of keeping us in the customs union indefinitely it seems to be, as a means of resolving the Northern Ireland issue.

    It would be an unsatisfactory way of resolving the Northern Ireland border issue, because all the benefits of Brexit economically would be lost.

    The views expressed in this article are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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