Key Dates as Theresa May's Premiership Comes to an End

(Bloomberg) -- Theresa May has agreed to set out a timetable next month for the leadership race to replace her. She has one last roll of the dice before then to try to get her deal through Parliament, but whatever the result, she’s said she’ll go. Here’s how the next few weeks could play out.

Week of May 20

If the government wants to try to bring the Withdrawal Agreement Bill to a vote in the week of June 3, as it says, it ought to publish it this week, presenting it to Parliament for what’s known as its “first reading.” The bill is expected to be huge, but members will have a week off in which to read it. The government has said it will be published as soon as possible, without setting a date.

Week of May 27

This will begin with the European election results, on the night of Sunday May 26. The Conservatives are predicted to do very badly and Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party do well. Then there’s a European summit on Tuesday May 28, which isn’t meant to be about Brexit at all, but May is invited. Parliament will be on vacation.

Week of June 3

The government has promised the first vote on the bill, known as the “WAB”, this week. Quite when is a tricky question. Parliament isn’t sitting on the Monday, and is likely to want two days of debate, which takes it to Wednesday June 5. But Donald Trump will be in the U.K. that day, joining May in Portsmouth, on England’s south coast, for D-Day anniversary celebrations.

After the vote, whatever the result, May will meet Graham Brady, the chairman of the panel of rank-and-file Tory members of Parliament. They will agree a timetable for the election to replace her, and the race that’s already being played out becomes official.

It’s theoretically possible that May could win the second reading. That vote is only supposed to be on the principle of the bill, not the detail. A Labour spokesman left open the option of abstention -- though senior Labour figures have since knocked that down and the party’s whips would struggle to enforce such a stance. Unless something changes, Labour is on course to vote against, as are many Conservatives and The DUP. The likeliest outcome is the bill is defeated.

Week of June 10

If the WAB is still alive, the government will want to move swiftly to the so-called committee stage, where it’s scrutinized line-by-line. This would probably be done in the chamber, open to all members, and would involve lots of amendments and many votes.

But assuming the WAB is dead, May’s premiership will be too, and the country will by now be plunged into a Tory leadership race.

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