Last night MPs voted to reject Theresa May’s Brexit deal for a second time.

The move leaves the country in turmoil with just 17 days to the scheduled break from Brussels.

The deal was defeated in the Commons on Tuesday evening by 149 votes.

Our north Essex MPs were divided - with three voting for the deal and three against it.


Will Quince, Colchester

Giles Watling, Clacton

James Cleverly, Braintree


Bernard Jenkin, Harwich

Priti Patel, Witham

John Whittingdale, Maldon

So what happens next?

Events over the next two days will have a major impact on how, when – and if – the UK leaves the European Union.

MPs will vote today on whether they want to leave the European Union without a Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration – a no-deal Brexit.

The Prime Minister warned that a no-deal scenario would be “bleak”, with a “significant economic shock”, the loss of security co-operation with Europe and the prospect of the break-up of the UK as support for Scottish independence and a united Ireland could increase.

Should MPs reject that, there will be another vote on whether Parliament wants to seek ​an extension to Article 50 – delaying the UK’s departure beyond the current March 29 deadline.

But Mrs May stressed that would not resolve the divisions in the Commons and could instead hand Brussels the power to set conditions on the kind of Brexit on offer “or even moving to a second referendum”.

Could Brexit be delayed and if so for how long?

To secure an extension to Article 50, Mrs May would need the support of the 27 other EU states.

They are likely to agree to an extension as long as there was a prospect of a deal being reached – or a referendum or general election which could change the political landscape at Westminster.

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said that Brexit should be completed before the European elections which take place between May 23 and 26.

“If the UK has not left the EU by then, it will be legally required to hold these elections,” he said.

If a longer extension was sought, that would mean taking part in the elections, something likely to fuel Eurosceptic anger – and potentially see Nigel Farage standing for the new Brexit Party.

So what happens on March 29?

Impossible to say at this stage. If a deal is somehow reached and legislated for then although the UK will formally leave the EU at 11pm, very little will change as a transition period will smooth progress to the UK’s new future.

If there is a delay, the UK will still be in the European Union until the extension period expires.

But if there is a no-deal Brexit, things are a lot more uncertain – the Government has been ramping up preparations to try to prevent shortages of food and medicine amid fears that increased bureaucracy will clog up key ports where goods arrive from the Continent.