The political stalemate over Brexit has left a “spectre of uncertainty” looming over the economy, according to the Chancellor.
How did we get to this point?
The country voted to leave the EU in the referendum.
But that was in 2016, so why the continuing uncertainty?
The House of Commons keeps rejecting the Prime Minister’s deal.
What does the deal involve?
The agreement runs to hundreds of pages but basically it covers financial arrangements, citizens’ rights, aims for a future trading relationship and a mechanism or backstop to prevent a future hard border on the island of Ireland.
What’s not to like?
A large number of Theresa May’s own Tory MPs and all the DUP MPs she needs for a majority do not like the backstop.
And many hardline Brexiteers think no deal would be better than what one critic described on Tuesday as a “polished turd”.
What would no deal mean?
Depends who you ask. Some say economic doom and gloom while others argue it would give the UK the freedom to strike its own favourable trade deals with trading partners around the globe.
What happens if MPs can’t agree on a deal?
One option is to request an extension to the Brexit deadline of March 29.
Would the UK get an extension?
It would have to be agreed by the EU’s remaining 27 members states.
How long could the extension last?
It would probably last no longer than May 23 because otherwise the UK would theoretically have to elect a new set of MEPs to the European Parliament.
Would a Brexit extension solve anything?
It would give the UK more time to end the current stalemate. But given all the divisions, it might not be enough.
Would a general election help?
It is what Labour wants but current polling does not suggest any party would win a decisive majority.