he EU’s preference is that Britain ratifies the Withdrawa

Agreement. This is where the prospect of a lengthy delay plays into the thinking of some.

A long delay presents the UK, potentially, with a choice. If it is to take part in the European elections, then it must legislate to do so before April 11. In that scenario, the

EU could propose a longish delay of around two years, with a fixed end point, but with a neat get-out clause. Were the Hous

e of Commons to approve May’s Brexit deal within that period, the UK would flip out of the EU and the Article 50 ex

tension would be reincarnated as the two-year transition, as per the current Withdrawal Agreement.

If that all sounds a little fiddly, here it is in simpler language. UK lawmakers would be presented with a choice of voti

ng to leave the EU with a deal that they may not love, or remain as a full member state and what that leads to is any

one’s guess: A general election, another referendum — take your pick of undesirable outcomes.

All of this was complicated further on Monday, when the Speaker of the House of Commons lobbed in a constitutional hand g

renade. John Bercow pronounced that Theresa May could not bring her Brexit deal back for a new vote in Parl

iament without the question being asked sufficiently differently from the one defeated last week.

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