THE process of Brexit is coming to a head and the next few weeks are critical to the process and how we come out of the EU. So, I thought it might be helpful to those still fascinated by it all to understand the process from here on.

There is an imminent EU summit coming up and either this one, or a subsequent one in November, is expected to deliver a deal on Britain’s exit. I have no doubt there will be a deal of one form or another. What happens after that is crucial.

When the PM comes back from Brussels with a deal, there will be a short period of appraisal. During this time – a few days – organisations like the Treasury, Office of Budgetary Responsibility, Institute for Fiscal Studies and many others, will be able to decide what it means for the UK. This appraisal period is important because it will then inform the first parliamentary debate – the so called “meaningful vote”.

The meaningful vote is a chance for Parliament to decide, yes or no, if it agrees to that deal. There will be no opportunity to go back and try to get a different deal with Brussels: it is take it or leave it. It may be that there will be an opportunity to amend the vote, but that is up to the Speaker and possibly irrelevant.

Assuming a positive outcome for the meaningful vote, there will then be a new bill that will go through parliament that puts in to law the parts of the deal. There will be three parts of the bill: the exit agreement; the transition agreement; and the future relationship. Without this, whatever agreement is agreed will not be able to be enacted.

This process is due to finish by Christmas so it’s going to be a pretty hectic autumn and not without a lot of argument.

But what happens if the meaningful vote and the departure bill fail to pass the parliamentary process?

The default position is the EU Withdrawal Act, passed earlier this year. That simply provides that at 23:00 hours, on the 29th March 2019, the UK will no longer be a member of the EU. With no subsequent Act of Parliament relating to this, we simply leave the EU with no deal whatsoever and go straight to WTO rules. And that will be that.