MPs just voted to reject a no-deal Brexit. Well, they kind of did.
In one of the most baffling days in the history of Parliamentary democracy, Parliament decisively told Theresa May that crashing out of the EU without a deal was not an option they could accept.
But does it definitely mean no-deal won’t happen? Isn’t that still the default option?
And what happens next? Will Article 50 be extended? And if so, for how long?
Here’s what happened – and, to the extent that it’s possible to predict anything in this bizarre palace of chaos, what will happen next.
What happened tonight?
MPs voted to reject Britain ever leaving the EU without a deal.
Originally, the motion just rejected leaving the EU without a deal on March 29.
But then an amendment, tabled by Caroline Spelman (who later kind of disowned it, but that’s a story for another time), narrowly passed.
That amendment changed the wording to say that "this house declines" to approve leaving the EU without a deal.
Mrs May was forced to table the motion after MPs defeated her proposed Brexit deal by 149 votes – the second time it had been annihilated in the House of Commons.
Tory MPs were reportedly whipped to vote against the Spelman amendment, but it passed by four votes anyway.
They were originally going to be given a " free vote " in the final showdown – but at the last minute, whips ordered MPs to vote against it. And in the case of ministers, that means they faced being sacked.
That’s particularly awkward for Theresa May , who promised to vote down no-deal, spent the whole day telling us how awful no-deal would be, then ended up effectively voting for no deal herself.
The final vote passed by 321 votes to 278.
Has this definitely ruled out No Deal?
If MPs do not vote to delay Brexit ; or the EU refuses to delay Brexit;or there’s still an impasse at the end of a delay, then No Deal remains the "default option".
That affirmation was made in the second half of the motion by the Prime Minister.
Graeme Cowie, a Common’s clerk and expert on constitutional law and Brexit tweeted: "Legal Twitter are of course correct to say that the @HouseofCommons’ vote on the Spelman amendment doesn’t legally prevent the thing it rejects.
"But I think we can give our Parliamentarians on all sides a bit more credit than to assume they don’t know motions don’t make laws."
What happens next?
Under plans outlined by Theresa May last week, MPs will now be asked to vote to approve a “short, limited extension to article 50”.
Tonight, the Government confirmed that’s what they intend to do tomorrow – along with details of what MPs will have to vote on.
Here’s the wording of the motion:
How long would the extension be?
If MPs vote in favour of tomorrow’s motion, they’re voting to:
Delay Brexit no matter what AND
a) if there’s a deal by this time next week, the delay will be three months (a technical extension).
b) if there’s not a deal by this time next week, the govt has no view on length of delay and says it’s up to the EU.
Either way, unless we leave by June 30, we’ll have to take part in EU elections.
And Jean Claude-Juncker said yesterday that he wouldn’t approve any delay beyond May 23, when the elections start.