The Brexit plan appears doomed. And no one knows what’ll happen next.

Brexiteers don’t like it because it keeps the U.K. closely tied to the E.U., and pro-E.U. politicians feel it erects barriers between the U.K. and its biggest trading partner.

While May’s deal looks unlikely to earn enough votes in Parliament next week, the other options available to lawmakers look just as unlikely to garner a majority.

Part of what has made the Brexit process so difficult is the lack of precedent. E.U. law and policy influences a large part of life in Britain, from trade to fishing to workplace regulations.

“Usually when a country leaves an international organization, they pay a bit of money and take their leave. This is not anything like that,” said Simon Usherwood, the deputy director of the U.K. in a Changing Europe think tank who is also a politics researcher at the University of Surrey. “This is like if you made a cake and you want to take the egg back out. You can say you’ll do it, but that doesn’t make it easy.”

Complicating Brexit even further is the fact that it cuts across party lines. Some members of both the ruling Conservatives and the opposition Labour Party back the divorce — but there is no consensus on what that should look like.

“The reason that this is such a difficult process is that people are fairly clear about what they don’t like but not clear about what they do like,” Usherwood added.

Prime Minister May and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn both support a negotiated agreement of some kind with the E.U., but some hardliners believe a clean break with as few links as possible to the bloc is a better option.


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