Virginia, US

Jan 15 2019

Brexit Withdrawal Agreement Rejected by UK Parliament

European Union, United Kingdom

At a Glance

The UK parliament has rejected the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement. The government now has three parliamentary working days (by close of business January 21, 2019) to set out an alternative plan of action. Although the next steps are not yet clear, employers are advised to set up contingency plans in case of a no-deal Brexit if no further agreement is approved before March 29, 2019.

The situation

The UK parliament has rejected Theresa May’s Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.

A closer look

  • Possible next steps. Current options now that the Withdrawal Agreement has not been passed include:
    • A no-deal Brexit on March 29, 2019, if no further deal is approved before March 29, 2019 (this situation would mean that only EU nationals living in the United Kingdom by March 29, 2019 will be eligible to apply under the Settlement Scheme to secure their status in the United Kingdom);
    • A renegotiation of the Withdrawal Agreement;
    • A motion of no-confidence to challenge the Prime Minister's leadership of the UK government, as suggested by the leader of the opposition party, Jeremy Corbyn; and
    • An extension of the Article 50 negotiation period beyond March 29, 2019 (this would delay Brexit, although commentators suggest this could be until June 2019 at the latest).

  • EU Settlement Scheme will still be effective. Despite the rejection of the Agreement, the UK government will still implement the EU Settlement Scheme for qualifying EU nationals and their family members residing in the United Kingdom prior to March 29, 2019. The terms of the scheme, though, will be less generous than if there were a Withdrawal Agreement.


The vote moves the United Kingdom one step closer to a no-deal Brexit, although nothing has been decided yet. Further impacts include:

  • EU nationals in the United Kingdom. A no-deal Brexit would mean that although EU, European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss nationals living in the United Kingdom on or before March 29, 2019 would not need to leave, they would need to register their presence in the United Kingdom. It is not clear what policy would apply to those entering the United Kingdom after March 29, 2019.
  • UK nationals abroad. UK nationals living in the EU, EEA and Switzerland before Brexit are expected to be able to stay in those countries but would need to apply for immigration status. EU Member States have begun to set out their contingency plans, including France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland and Italy. UK nationals would likely lose their free movement rights in the European Union, meaning that those seeking to work in the European Union, EEA and Switzerland after Brexit would need a work permit or similar immigration status. Work permits for Europe tend to have a processing time of one to six months including document collection, depending on the destination. Those time frames could be extended if there are more UK nationals entering EU countries to work after Brexit.
  • Employer action. Fragomen advises that employers set up contingency plans for their affected employees and the business as a whole. Fragomen can advise on a range of options.

Fragomen will issue updates on Brexit as developments occur. For more information, please visit Fragomen’s dedicated Brexit site, which contains news, FAQs, and analysis/commentary in the form of blogs, videos, webcasts and events.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen or send an email to