Brexit: Has Britain left the EU yet?

Europe and Brexit

The UK voted to leave the EU on 23 June 2016 and was due to leave on 29 March 2019 following two years of negotiations.

Theresa May tried – and failed – three times to get the deal she agreed with Brussels passed by MPs. Her failure prompted her resignation as prime minister and Brexit being pushed back to 31 October. Boris Johnson has replaced her and insists Britain will leave on that date “do or die”.

The new prime minister wants to negotiate a new Brexit deal, but says he is prepared to leave without a deal if necessary. With less than 100 days to go, Sky News is tracking his progress.

Sky News is assessing all the twists and turns on a daily basis, giving you the lowdown on how much closer Brexit is to happening and, crucially, with or without a deal.

Brexit – 64 days to go

Jeremy Corbyn met the leaders of the Liberal Democrats, Scottish National Party, Plaid Cymru and Green Party to plot moves in parliament to block a no-deal Brexit.

A breakthrough? Perhaps. But the strategy now is no longer tabling a motion of no confidence and installing Mr Corbyn as caretaker prime minister – because the Lib-Dems won’t back him – but instead trying to pass legislation to thwart no deal.

Really? One vital element was missing from the Corbyn meeting and also a further meeting a few hours later to agree a declaration opposing the shutting down of parliament: rebel Tory MPs, pro-Remain Conservatives either said no or had pressing engagements elsewhere.

And for that reason, at the moment at least, the combined opposition parties don’t appear to have the numbers to defeat the government. And Mr Johnson and his allies know that.

PROGRESS REPORT: There has been NO CHANGE over the past 24 hours on the likelihood of the UK leaving the EU with or without a deal on 31 October.

Must see: Farage issues Brexit ultimatum to PM

Brexit – 65 days to go

Asked at his end-of summit news conference in Biarritz about a possible Brexit deal, Boris Johnson said: “I am marginally more optimistic.” The chances of a deal “depend exclusively” on the EU compromising on getting rid of the Irish backstop and the current withdrawal agreement, he said.

But now the Prime Minister is sending his chief Brexit adviser to Brussels this week. David Frost, Mr Johnson’s Brexit “sherpa”, will meet senior EU officials to discuss alternatives to the plan agreed with Theresa May.

Talks between UK and EU officials are said to have been stepped up after the PM’s visits to Berlin and Paris last week.

PROGRESS REPORT: After the past 24 hours, the UK is now more likely to leave the EU WITH a deal on 31 October.

Must see: PM: EU sees Brexit ‘as an encumbrance’

Brexit – 66 days to go

So is the chance of a no-deal Brexit one in a million? Are chances of reaching an agreement improving? Or is it all touch and go? You can be forgiven if you’re somewhat confused by the mixed messages coming from Boris Johnson in recent weeks. But with the prime minister trying to keep several diplomatic plates spinning at once, constructive ambiguity is a valuable tool.

For Brussels, the message is simple: the UK will be leaving in October come what may and if the EU refuses to re-open the withdrawal agreement, on their heads be it (or so the Number 10 logic goes). That’s why you won’t hear the “no-deal is one in a million” line being repeated any more.

But the PM also wants a new deal. And perhaps more importantly, he wants moderate MPs to think he wants a new deal, so they delay any blocking action that could scupper his whole strategy. That’s why this week’s continental dashes have been carefully calibrated to look reasonable and constructive, but not too desperate.

On the whole, the meetings have gone better than expected, allowing the PM to gently hint that his harder line tactics are working and the EU is beginning to budge. He doesn’t want to get carried away, though. If Brexiteers smell a Brussels stitch up, they could turn on their hero in an instant.

But there’s another altogether less canny reason for the plethora of messages coming from the PM. Like the rest of us, he has very little idea where precisely this is going. There are simply too many variables – the EU, MPs and the rebellious Commons Speaker John Bercow chief among them.

So yes, there’s an element of strategy to all this. But don’t assume our political leaders know much more about the immediate future than we do.

PROGRESS REPORT: The UK is more likely to leave the EU with a deal on 31 October because this week’s meetings with EU leaders have gone better than expected.

Must see: ‘Chances of Brexit deal improving’, says PM

Brexit – 67 days to go

“I know you are, but what am I?”

Playground insult yes, but also a fairly concise appraisal of the diplomatic interactions between Boris Johnson and EU boss Donald Tusk on the first day of the G7 summit in France.

An argument over who will be known as “Mr No Deal” in the years to come may seem trivial, but it’s also instructive as to how this attempted Brexit renegotiation is playing out: both sides trying to shift blame onto the other, both sides attempting to look like the reasonable party hamstrung by the intransigence of their opponent.

From where I’m sitting, it looks like both the EU and the UK have painted themselves into corners so tightly that no deal may be the only viable way out.

Mr Johnson insists that the Irish backstop must be junked. It will be very hard for him to sell anything less than that to his jittery backbenchers. But the EU insists the backstop cannot be removed and the withdrawal agreement cannot be reopened.

This all gives very little room for manoeuvre. And it’s why the blame game over no deal is raging while the country apparently slides towards its seemingly inevitable fate. Not because either side necessarily wants to go there, but because it’s one of the only destinations left.

PROGRESS REPORT: The UK is more likely to leave the EU without a deal on 31 October.

Brexit – 68 days to go

The art of putting the brakes on a story is one all politicians get good at. And you could almost hear the screech of tyres as Boris Johnson sought to slow down the runaway narrative that’s been gathering pace over the past few days – namely that a new Brexit deal could be signed, sealed and delivered in the next 30 days.

The prime minister said that while the “mood music was very good” from some EU leaders, anyone hoping for an immediate breakthrough should “not hold their breath”. Quite a departure from the fist-pumping PM we saw on Wednesday night in Berlin praising the “blistering” timetable apparently being laid out by Angela Merkel for a new Brexit deal.

Why the change of heart? Perhaps a belated realisation that UK prime ministers have been here before with the polite, affable German chancellor, confusing a change in tone for a change in position. But Mr Johnson also doesn’t want to tie himself to any deadline. He knows Brussels negotiations always go the distance.

What’s more, the PM is wary of making the same mistake as his predecessor and being sucked into a version of events that ultimately sees him accepting any new Brexit deal the EU comes up with. That could cause his eurosceptic backbenchers to scream betrayal. It would also hand the initiative to the EU. No deal is Mr Johnson’s political deterrent and he needs to convince everyone he’s prepared to use it.

PROGRESS REPORT: The UK is more likely to leave the EU without a deal on 31 October.

Brexit – 69 days to go

The message Boris Johnson took to Paris and Berlin was the one he has restated time and again: for a deal to be reached, the Irish backstop had to be ditched.

He returned to Downing Street having been told by French President Emmanuel Macron that the backstop was “indispensable”.

While the tone of the prime minister’s European meetings was perhaps more constructive than Downing Street had anticipated – with both his French and German counterparts saying they were ready to engage to find a solution – Mr Johnson was left in no doubt that the EU believes the responsibility to come forward with that solution lies with him.

PROGRESS REPORT: In the last 24 hours diplomatic efforts have taken on a new dynamic, but the likelihood of the UK leaving the EU without a deal on 31 October remains unchanged.

Must see: ‘No time for a new withdrawal agreement’

Brexit – 70 days to go

Something remarkable has happened. Across the newspapers and broadcast bulletins of Britain, a sudden outbreak of optimism about Brexit. Could it be that the chances of the UK leaving the EU with a deal in October have gone up?

Err… maybe.

It’s true that the German chancellor could have been a lot less helpful to Boris Johnson. Angela Merkel appeared to suggest a solution to the Irish border could be found and found quickly.

The kicker? She indicated it would have to come in the future relationship. In other words, no changes to the Withdrawal Agreement.

What’s more, there’s still no sense the UK government can come up with anything on the Irish border that will placate Brussels to such an extent that they will do what they have said a million times is impossible – ditch the backstop.

And consider this. At the same time Boris Johnson was grinning and fist pumping in Berlin, the French president was sketching out a decidedly less optimistic picture in Paris. Emmanuel Macron said scrapping the backstop was “impossible” and a renegotiation of the Brexit deal was “not an option”.

That could make for awkward dinner chat when the tousle-haired prime minister drops in at the Elysee this afternoon.

For months now, Boris Johnson has been calling for more optimism over Brexit. He has it this morning and that shouldn’t be dismissed.

In the current political climate, a feeling of ‘can do’ is a valuable commodity. But it probably won’t last.
“Can we do it?” screams the front page of the Daily Mail today. By this evening, there may be a new answer to that. Non non non!

PROGRESS REPORT: For the first time since Boris Johnson became prime minister, the UK is more likely to leave with a deal on 31 October.

Must see: Onus of producing backstop solutions ‘on us’, says PM

Brexit – 71 days to go

Despite the withering response from Brussels to his demand that the EU ditch the so-called Irish backstop, Boris Johnson insisted a deal remained possible but said “it’s going to take a bit of patience”.

Stating publicly an argument that Number 10 officials have made privately for some time, Mr. Johnson claimed the EU “still clearly think that there is a possibility that parliament will block Brexit”, and concessions will only come once that perception changes.

But ahead of their meeting in Berlin tomorrow, the German Chancellor gave little indication that she was prepared to shift course.

Angela Merkel said the solution to Mr. Johnson’s concerns around the backstop could be solved in the second stage of negotiations, which will establish the future trading relationship between the UK and the EU.

But she reiterated the point that those negotiations were dependent on the UK agreeing the terms of divorce, and that means agreeing the Withdrawal Agreement, backstop and all.

PROGRESS REPORT: Despite the Prime Minister’s belief that a deal remains possible, the diplomatic barbs of the last 24 hours mean the likelihood of the UK leaving the EU without a deal on October 31st remains unchanged.

Brexit – 72 days to go

The prime minister started the day by suggesting he was “confident” EU leaders would come around to his demand that they drop the Irish backstop in order to avoid a no-deal Brexit.

He ended the day by writing a letter to the EU Council President setting out in more detail than he ever has previously the terms on which he believes a swift renegotiation could be possible before 31 October.

In the letter to Donald Tusk he said the Irish backstop should be replaced by a commitment to have alternative customs arrangements that avoid the need for checks at the border in place by the end of a two-year transition period.

He also signalled he was prepared to offer “commitments” to give confidence that the border would remain open should those alternative arrangements not be ready in time, but did not specify what those commitments might be.

Brussels did not immediately respond, but it is understood the plans were discussed during a telephone conversation earlier in the afternoon between the prime minister and the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

During the call the Irish leader insisted the Withdrawal Agreement could not be renegotiated and stood by the importance of the backstop as a “legally operable guarantee” to avoid a hard border.

PROGRESS REPORT: In the last 24 hours the prime minister has set out what he requires to agree a Brexit deal by 31 October, but without a positive response from the EU the likelihood of a no-deal outcome on that date remains unchanged.

Brexit – 73 days to go

In Westminster newsrooms, August is usually branded “silly season”. Politicians head for the beaches, special advisers switch off their phones and even the most media-hungry MPs become suddenly unavailable. Not this August, and certainly not this weekend.

The Sunday Times fired an exocet missile straight into Downing Street yesterday publishing a government planning document painting a grim picture of life after no deal. Quoting an unnamed individual, the paper claimed the details were “likely, basic and reasonable”. Not according to sources in Downing Street, who said it was a “worst case scenario” document and had been leaked by a former minister for political ends.

So beyond the spin and the finger pointing, has any of this left a mark and made no deal more or less likely? Well, both sides of the Brexit debate are so dug in nowadays, it seems unlikely any minds will be changed by today’s revelations. In fact, both wings appear increasingly emboldened if anything. The Remain-alliance more convinced than ever about the threat of no deal. Brexiteer suspicions boiling over of a “project fear” stitch-up.

But however likely or far-fetched these scenarios are, they will harden the determination of some MPs to stop no deal. And that could throw a spanner in the works of Boris Johnson’s tactical stand-off with the EU, which will get personal this week when he visits France and Germany. As the prime minister wrote in a letter to rebels, “it is plain as a pikestaff” that Brussels will not compromise if they know MPs can block Brexit.

Downing Street is engaged in a three-way staring match. And no one wants to blink first.

PROGRESS REPORT: The UK is less likely to leave the EU with or without a deal on 31 October. There has been no progress on negotiations with the EU and opposition to no deal is hardening.

Brexit – 74 days to go

If Brexit were a game, it could easily be chess. Successful players need a solid strategy and ample foresight. Your next move may matter, but the four after that are important as well. Just look at Jeremy Corbyn and other MPs trying to block no deal. The battle of the week has been over who will take over as caretaker Prime Minister. Could it be the Labour leader? Or veteran MP Kenneth Clarke? Or perhaps Harriet Harman?

Again today, Mr Corbyn has insisted that he has the right to form a government before anyone else. But remember, even to get to this point requires the small issue of the current administration falling and a majority of MPs gathering behind another leader. Currently, it’s not even guaranteed that Boris Johnson would lose a no confidence vote. And even if he did, the splits ravaging parliament make it almost certain that no other MP would be able to command the confidence of the house.

But Mr Corbyn knows that in the mad world of modern Westminster, political tectonic plates can align at just the moment to allow him to leap across the divide. That’s why he is prepping the ground now for the next month’s battle. The problem for him is, his political enemies are doing exactly the same thing.

PROGRESS REPORT: There has been no change over the past 24 hours on the likelihood of the UK leaving the EU with or without a deal on 31 October.

Brexit – 75 days to go

There are few days in politics these days where things don’t change much. Today was actually one of them. Politics was dominated, for once not by Brexit, but instead by the tragic death of police officer Andrew Harper.

There was more futile speculation about a government of national unity. It confirmed what has become apparent all week that it has little chance of succeeding.

PROGRESS REPORT: A no-deal Brexit became no more nor no less likely than before.

Brexit – 76 days to go

There has been a lot of talk in recent days about a so-called “government of national unity”- today demonstrated that the elements which might comprise it are anything but united.

Jo Swinson rejected Jeremy Corbyn’s overtures for a caretaker administration. There was a similarly tepid result from other parties.

I’ve sat down all day indulging my first love – parliamentary number crunching – and as far as I can see a Corbyn administration could be short by over 30 votes (worst case scenario) or might just scrape in by one (best case). The margin for error is almost non-existent and I suspect, as a result, is unlikely to succeed.

Ironically, that is not so much as a result of SNP, or Lib Dems or Plaid or the rest, but instead MPs, who until relatively recently, Corbyn would have counted as his parliamentary colleagues.

There are around a dozen former Labour MPs who, for one reason or another, have been expelled or left the party in protest at Corbyn’s leadership. Chris Leslie, one of the Change UK MPs told me tonight that his group of five might not even vote against the government in a confidence motion and instead focus on ways to compel it through law to abandon no deal.

If they hold true to their word it will be almost impossible to bring the government down, not least because it will be even harder to convince wavering Tory MPs to destroy their careers by taking the nuclear option of defeating their own government if they don’t think it has any chance of succeeding.

Therefore Boris Johnson might sleep sounder in his bed in Downing St tonight.

PROGRESS REPORT: Chances of Britain leaving without a deal have increased.

Brexit – 77 days to go

Autumn was in the air in Westminster in more ways than one. The weather was unseasonably dreary but we got the first glimpses of the likely political contours of the new political season awaiting us in September.

A week ago Jeremy Corbyn wrote to the Cabinet Secretary, Mark Sedwill to ask whether it would fall within election rules for the government to carry out a no-deal Brexit if it should fall in the middle of an election campaign.

Sedwill had a typically mandarinesque non-committal reply. He also said it was up to parliament and the EU to set our departure date, not him.

To that end Mr Corbyn reported the findings of the letter to his fellow opposition party leaders. He said he was not satisfied with the letter and that therefore he’d be placing a motion of no confidence in the government at the earliest opportunity and invited them to support him to form an alternative govt whose sole purpose would be to extend Article 50 and then hold an election.

This was summarily dismissed by smaller party leaders. They would prefer an alternative figure, one who is less controversial in parliament. Mr Corbyn today put down a marker to say that simply isn’t going to happen- if they want to stop a no-deal, it’s him or bust.

PROGRESS REPORT: Given how unpalatable Jeremy Corbyn is to pro-remain Tory MPs, the likelihood of a no-deal Brexit has gone up.

Brexit – 78 days to go

Barely a day goes by at the moment without hearing something from the Trump administration on Brexit. Today the President’s National Security Adviser met with Chancellor Sajid Javid. He reiterated the administration’s enthusiasm and commitment for new trade accords with the United Kingdom.

Aware of how lengthy negotiations over trade agreements can be, Mr Bolton has suggested a series of smaller, sectoral agreements to get things up and running, potentially as soon as November.

This will be welcome mood music from the Americans for Downing Street. Nonetheless, they won’t be popping the champagne (or should it be Californian Sparkling Wine?) just yet. For a start it’s not clear whether smaller trade deals would be passable with the World Trade Organisation. Secondly the Secretary has made it clear the first tranche wouldn’t include services (by far the most glittering prize for the UK economy) and thirdly, this isn’t necessarily in the president’s gift.

Though Republicans on Capitol Hill are very keen on a new UK/US deal, the Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, has made it clear the Democratic House will veto any trade agreement if Boris Johnson pursues a no-deal Brexit (she is supported by the highly influential Irish American caucus in Congress). They would doubtless attempt to thwart smaller agreements too.

Perhaps then, this is why Boris Johnson, instead of extolling the virtues of a new Anglo-American partnership, chose to reiterate his commitment to a European deal, saying it was “the most important” thing. Yet, there’s no sign of any break in the impasse and unlikely to be until the EU sees what happens in parliament in September.

PROGRESS REPORT: There has been no change over the past 24 hours on the likelihood of the UK leaving the EU with or without a deal on 31 October.

Brexit – 79 days to go

America is “ready to negotiate” a sector by sector trade deal with the UK in order to get an agreement as soon as Britain has left the European Union, US national security adviser John Bolton has said.

Speaking after a meeting with Boris Johnson, Mr Bolton said the UK will be “first in line” for a trade deal and said the prime minister and Donald Trump have got their relationship off to a “roaring start”, speaking five or six times by phone already.

PROGRESS REPORT: There has been no change over the past 24 hours on the likelihood of the UK leaving the EU with or without a deal on 31 October.

Brexit – 80 days to go

Sunday was a strangely Brexit-free day. The prime minister once again shifting the focus onto domestic affairs, pushing plans on policing and prisons. But despite the lack of ‘the B word’ on the front pages and news bulletins, the most recent policy blitz does give us an indication on where Boris Johnson and his team think his premiership may drift.

Rumours of an early general election have been echoing around Westminster since Mr Johnson announced he was standing for the top job. His energetic first few weeks have done nothing to silence them. What have an increase in NHS spending, more police, tougher sentencing, more prison spaces and a hard line Brexit policy all got in common? They are all red meat for voters who this prime minister needs to get on side if he wants to romp home with a healthy majority in any early election.

What could trigger that snap poll? You got it: Brexit. There’s still a high chance that MPs will block any attempt to leave the EU without a deal. If that happens an election could be the only way out. It may not be explicit, but the cloud of Brexit hangs over most of politics nowadays.

PROGRESS REPORT: There has been no change over the past 24 hours on the likelihood of the UK leaving the EU with or without a deal on 31 October.

Brexit – 81 days to go

Long rumoured and now out in the open, the existence of the dramatically named “Operation Kingfisher” has been confirmed by Michael Gove. The minister responsible for no-deal planning said the scheme would give public cash to businesses that may get into financial trouble because of Brexit.

For Brexit enthusiasts, this is a necessary preparation for that October “do or die” deadline. Critics see it as more evidence of the damage Brexit could do to the country and dismiss it as an expensive part of the government’s “big bluff” strategy to convince the EU it is serious about no deal.

It is convenient that this apparently off-the-cuff revelation has come at a time when the government is consciously talking up the chance of no deal. But it’s wrong to dismiss “Operation Kingfisher” as just posturing.

That’s because it was actually set up behind closed doors by the previous Chancellor Philip Hammond, someone who was and still is fervently against no deal. What’s more, speaking to government sources, it is also clear that this is a genuine exercise to identify possible high-risk industries that could suffer from the likely economic shock that a no-deal Brexit would bring. Construction and manufacturing are spoken about as particularly vulnerable areas.

So yes, this could well be part of the government’s arsenal of persuasion. But it’s also an acknowledgement that no deal may happen and what’s more, if it does, it will do damage.

PROGRESS REPORT: There has been no change over the past 24 hours on the likelihood of the UK leaving the EU with or without a deal on 31 October. But there have been more indications that the government is willing to take the country out on that date come what may.

Brexit – 82 days to go

Michael Gove, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, de facto deputy to the prime minister, said that the government will spend “whatever it takes” to prepare for a no-deal Brexit.

The government has already spent some £2bn and earmarked over £4bn (or £61 for every man, woman and child) for no-deal preparations. The latest commitment is part of a strategy to emphasise the government’s commitment to leaving the EU on 31 October, come what may.

Yet on precisely the same day, the government inadvertently adverted to the difficulty of just throwing money at this issue.

Emails from the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, seen by Sky News, confirm civil service disquiet about the ability of the government to protect Britain’s territorial waters in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The emails say the government is “not on a strong footing” to refute the claims because the UK only has 12 vessels to patrol a surface area “three times the size of the UK”. It will, therefore, be difficult to prevent EU fishermen from continuing to fish in UK territory.

This encapsulates one of the fundamental problems with this idea of “preparing” for a no-deal Brexit. There are certain things which can indeed be prepared for – but many which cannot, especially in the tight time limit we now face.

No matter how much money the government throws at certain issues, there will be considerable disruption.

PROGRESS REPORT: There has been no change over the past 24 hours on the likelihood of the UK leaving the EU with or without a deal on 31 October.

Brexit – 83 days to go

Odds are dramatically shortening on a general election in early November, potentially on 1 November, the day after Boris Johnson insists the UK will leave the EU. That has prompted Jeremy Corbyn to write to Whitehall’s top civil servant, Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill, demanding a block on Brexit during an election campaign and accusing Mr Johnson of an abuse of power to force no deal.

Pro-Remain MPs are also claiming that if the prime minister is defeated in a vote of confidence in parliament by opponents of no deal, but refused to quit and called an election, that could provoke a constitutional crisis. Respected academic and pollster Sir John Curtice claims it is now too late to leave on 31 October with a deal.

PROGRESS REPORT: After the past 24 hours, the UK is now more likely to leave the EU WITHOUT a deal on 31 October.

Brexit – 84 days to go

Speaking to Sky News, Boris Johnson’s chief strategist Dominic Cummings declared: “The most simple thing is the Prime Minister believes that politicians don’t get to choose which votes they respect. That’s the critical issue.” In other words, MPs should respect the result of the 2016 referendum.

It was a defiant warning to MPs fighting to block a no-deal Brexit, from the man who had angered pro-Remain MPs by claiming they were too late to prevent no deal and that Mr Johnson would refuse to resign even after losing a no-confidence vote so he could force through no deal on 31 October.

PROGRESS REPORT: After the past 24 hours, the UK is now more likely to leave the EU WITHOUT a deal on 31 October.

Brexit – 85 days to go

Michael Gove, the minister in charge of no-deal planning, said Boris Johnson wants to negotiate a new deal with the EU “in the spirit of friendliness”, but added: “Whatever happens, while we remain ready and willing to negotiate, the EU must appreciate that we’re leaving on October 31, deal or no deal.”

Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said the Brexit process would not end on 31 October, even if there is no deal. And he said: “As time goes on, yes, a no deal becomes more likely. That’s why we have been preparing for it even from before the referendum took place.”

PROGRESS REPORT: After the past 24 hours, the UK is now more likely to leave the EU WITHOUT a deal on 31 October.

Brexit – 86 days to go

Health Secretary Matt Hancock, formerly opposed to no deal but now a Boris Johnson loyalist, claimed rebel MPs cannot block a no-deal Brexit.

“There were votes in parliament just before we rose for summer that I thought would stop a no-deal Brexit and actually were defeated,” he said.

And, asked whether it was now too late for parliament to stop no deal, Mr Johnson’s official spokesman said the prime minister’s view remained unchanged. “That is the UK will be leaving the EU on October 31, whatever the circumstances,” he said. “There are no ifs or buts.”

PROGRESS REPORT: After the past 24 hours, the UK is now more likely to leave the EU WITHOUT a deal on 31 October.

Brexit – 87 days to go

The government confirmed that it planned to invest in technical upgrades and maintenance repairs for 20 hospitals for some £1.8bn. This was met with derision by Labour, with shadow health secretary John Ashworth accusing Boris Johnson of “playing with people’s lives” and the future of the NHS by “turbocharging towards a no deal”.

There is virtually no doubt that if we do leave with no agreement there will be a substantial impact on the public finances which will impinge on any government’s ability to be generous with the NHS or any other public service.

Meanwhile, the main chatter around the Westminster village surrounded the comments of the PM’s right-hand man Dominic Cummings to the Sunday Telegraph. He has told the newspaper that remain-minded MPs have left it too late to stop a no deal Brexit; that even if MPs vote against the government when they return after their summer break the government will schedule the election after 31 October.

Such a long election campaign would be nearly unprecedented and plunge us into murky constitutional waters but if the view that an election is impossible there may be an unintended consequence for Downing St: that the other option to avert no deal, a government of national unity, formed only to secure an Article 50 extension, will become more likely.

PROGRESS REPORT: After the past 24 hours the UK is no more likely to leave with a no deal on October 31st but the chances of an election have reached even higher.

Brexit – 88 days to go

The £350m a week for the NHS pledge was perhaps the most infamous election pledge in British political history and it’s one intimately connected with the new occupant in Number 10. Boris Johnson is determined to implement it. So he has pledged £1.8bn in extra funding to the NHS. Some of this money had already been pledged by Theresa May but brought forward.

It will be made available immediately – and is part of a political operation in No 10, which is spending the summer putting itself in the best position it can for a possible election battle ahead as it tries to drive through no deal if necessary, an election surely more likely after the Brecon by-election.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick also announced funds for councils to hire Brexit leads, insisting it was right to “intensify preparations” so council can be prepared to leave by 31 October “whatever the circumstances”.

PROGRESS REPORT: After the past 24 hours the UK is roughly as likely as it was before to leave the EU without a deal on 31 October.

Brexit – 89 days to go

The Liberal Democrats took the seat of Brecon and Radnorshire from the incumbent Conservatives in a by-election victory which some say indicates the party’s return to form is gathering pace. A worrying sign for Prime Minister Boris Johnson perhaps, given his already slim majority, now cut to just one.

That may not matter now while MPs are away for the summer, but it will make getting any legislation through parliament almost impossible, even with the couple of extra votes the Conservatives will bank from MPs who are currently sitting as independents.

A chink of light for Mr Johnson came in the form of the Brexit Party’s result, which was not as good as some had expected, and the Labour Party’s poor result.

PROGRESS REPORT: After the past 24 hours the UK is now more likely to leave the EU without a deal on 31 October.

Brexit – 90 days to go

Bank of England governor Mark Carney says Britain has a one-in-three chance of plunging into recession as uncertainty over Brexit drags down the economy. And a “sensitive” Whitehall document leaked to Sky News warns of consumer panic, law and order challenges in Northern Ireland, security gaps and Britons abroad returning to the UK.

Meanwhile, a Brexit countdown clock has been delivered to 10 Downing Street, as time ticks down to 31 October, and will be displayed in Boris Johnson’s office. A similar clock is already in Tory HQ below a message declaring: “We will have delivered Brexit and left the EU by…”

PROGRESS REPORT: After the past 24 hours the UK is now more likely to leave the EU without a deal on 31 October.

Brexit – 91 days to go

Sajid Javid, the new chancellor, has announced a spending blitz of £2.1bn to prepare for no deal, funding more Border Force officers, avoiding passport application delays, improving transport around ports, safeguarding medical supplies and launching a public information campaign.

He says: “It’s vital we intensify our planning to ensure we are ready” and “if we can’t get a good deal, we’ll have to leave without one”. Labour says it’s “an appalling waste of taxpayers’ cash”.

PROGRESS REPORT: After the past 24 hours, the UK is now more likely to leave the EU without a deal on 31 October.

Brexit – 92 days to go

According to 10 Downing Street at lunchtime, Boris Johnson told the Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar in their phone call that the UK would be leaving the EU on 31 October “no matter what” and his “clear preference is to leave the EU with a deal, but it must be one that abolishes the backstop”.

Several hours later, No 10 said Mr Johnson told the Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford in Cardiff that the UK would be leaving on October 31 “come what may”. But at a news conference Mr Drakeford said the PM told him there was a “vanishingly small” chance of leaving the EU without a deal.

PROGRESS REPORT: There has been no change over the past 24 hours on the likelihood of the UK leaving the EU with or without a deal on 31 October.

Brexit – 93 days to go

Downing Street believes that if Brussels is to back down on the backstop, they will only do so shortly before 31 October. So the plan is to try to keep the campaigning rhetoric, frenetic activity levels and uncompromising approach to political enemies going until at least then. It feels no surprise that Boris Johnson had not, by Monday evening, spoken to Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, as Number 10 was keeping up appearances, including regional visits to Scotland and Wales.

Brussels is adamant change isn’t coming and threats won’t work. This tone might work for now, but how will it translate on the global stage? What this looks like during the international summit at the end of August and the UN General Assembly in September remains to be seen. Whether the early October Conservative conference – increasingly likely to resemble a one-subject rally – encourages the rest of the EU to stay close or want to be further away also remains to be seen. Brace for plenty more awkward encounters.

PROGRESS REPORT: After the past 24 hours, the UK is now more likely to leave the EU without a deal on 31 October.

What needs to happen to leave the EU?

✔️ Vote to leave

✔️ Invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty

✔️ Complete phase one of negotiations between UK and EU

❌ Either – leave with a deal by

  • Ratifying a withdrawal agreement in the UK parliament, EU parliament and by approval of 20 of the remaining 27 EU leaders
  • Then starting phase two negotiations on the future relationship

❌Or – leave without a deal by default, then start negotiations on the UK’s status as a third country with the EU