For the past week I have had an awful sense of déjà vu. Shenanigans in the House of Commons about Brexit. Rumours about removal of the whip from Tory MPs should they rebel on votes. And the threat of No Deal. It feels like the autumn of 2019 all over again.

Now, as then, there is a need to explain what might happen, and in what order. To try to give some sort of predictability to a messy process. Now, as then, the best way to do that is probably to put everything together into a Brexit Diagram (even though my 9 month long diagram break has been a joy, I suppose it is time to get back to it!)

So welcome to Brexit Diagram Series 5. The aim here is to work out what will happen in matters Brexit between now and the end of 2020. Now, as with all previous series of these diagrams, my aim is to outline what I think will happen, not what I want to happen.

All diagrams in this series will always be uploaded at this link, and will always be tweeted out and the latest version pinned to my Twitter profile. Major diagram updates will also be posted here in this blog post. There will always be high resolution PNG and PDF files, the XML, and the XLS file I use to calculate the probabilities. All versions are numbered (e.g. V1.2.3) – where the first number indicates changes to the routes or options in the diagram, the second indicates changes to probabilities, and the third number just minor corrections to text or removal of typos.

If you want to use the images or documents to make your own diagrams, feel free – please just credit my work. If you think my workings are wrong, likewise please tell me. But do me a favour and don’t just say “you’re wrong!” – tell me why I am wrong, which routes are wrong, or which probabilities need adjusting. Probabilities are based on data where it is available, and on educated guesses where it is not. Any errors in this are mine and mine alone.

And for those new to all of this diagram lark – Series 1 and 2 were from early 2019 and predicted a Brexit delay and that is what happened. Series 3 predicted a General Election, and that took place. Series 4 predicted a Johnson election victory, and the UK leaving the EU by January 2020 – and that happened too. The diagrams were also featured in the New York Times.


Extra extra diagram for the end game – 17.12.2020, V3.0.0, 2015


Extra diagram for the end game – 6.12.2020, V2.0.0, 1000


Extra diagram for the end game – 6.12.2020, 2100

Version 6.0.0 – 11.11.2020, 1545
After the vote 9 November in the House of Lords on the Internal Market Bill, and with discussion in Brussels of timetable delays, but 19 November being a relatively firm deadline…


Version 5.0.0 – 1.10.2020, 1200
The European Commission has this morning sent a Letter of Notice to the UK. This version explains the consequences.


Version 4.1.0 – 30.9.2020, 1000
News overnight that only 8 Tory MPs abstained on the Internal Market Bill, and news of rules of origin for the car industry becoming a more important issue in negotiations – all of this decreases the chance of an agreement on the substance by mid-October, and decreases the chances of a substantive rebellion by the House of Lords.


Version 4.0.0 – 29.9.2020, 1530
Some contradictions in the routes in V3.0.0 were pointed out to me – these have been corrected in this reasonably minor update.


Version 3.0.0 – 29.9.2020, 1030
There are some signs of a softening of reactions in Brussels – Sefcovic much less hard line than before. Draws on this by Alberto Nardelli, this statement from Gove, and this debate with David Henig, Nick Guttridge and Fabian Zuleeg. Changes in numbers more to do with the new way the routes have been plotted than any major change towards No Deal.


Version 2.0.0 – 18.9.2020, 1830
The Internal Market Bill will now only head to the House of Lords in October, and Number 10 has conceded on the Neill amendment. However the scheduling of what happens next, in what order, is now one hell of a mess.


Version 1.0.0 – 15.9.2020, 1200
The 2nd Reading of the Internal Market Bill passed easily yesterday, and while there were some signs of rebellion on the Tory benches it was not significant enough to cause the Government a major headache.


  1. The invisible subtext of your excellent flowcharts makes clear that Brexit is very much a process and not, as is so often assumed by the moronic get-brexit-done crowd , a one-off event. Whatever the outcome achieved at this end of the year, deal or no deal, arrangements and agreements will continue to be sought and are unavoidable due to the extreme interconnectedness of the UK’s and EU’s economies. As such, negotiations will remain on-going and never-ending, bit like the continuous (re)painting of the Forth railway bridge. The “fwee twade” crowd still seem to imagine that all FTAs are still the simple fire & forget exercises of 50 years ago, ignoring the fact that modern-style FTAs are dynamic and constantly-evolving affairs. You may need a bigger flow-chart!

  2. Peter de Montfort

    “Most Brexits are extraordinary ill-informed”.

    A little lost in translation but I think I know what you mean. Not true actually. The UK population is extremely well informed by a free press and educational levels are high. Tertiary education (University level) was enjoyed by 1.9 million students UK students (ommiting overseas students) in 2018/9. In 2019, a record 21.0% of UK 18-year-olds from low participation neighbourhoods (POLAR4 quintile 1) were accepted to study a full-time undergraduate degree. As of 2017/18 50.2% the total population aged between 17 and 30 had participated in higher education. Out of the World Top 100 Universities, 17 are in the UK as of 2020.

    Over and above that, the common man at the factory gate is often more insightful and exercises better judgement than our politicians.

    FYIO 🙂

  3. Yellard

    Charles comes out with the same old stuff.. As voluntary members of the EU our obesiance of EU rules was no different to obeying WTO rules and its rulings. He is right abt a hosril of near enough half of the UK to the EU but as with his misinterpretation of sovereignity with vuntsry membership.. Most Brexits are extraordinary ill-informed. Most don’t know the difference btwn Free trade and a Single Market nevermind understand that Free Trade without rules on state aid means both parties could subsidise /undercut/dump on each other. Undersuch circumstances the Brexits can only be satisfied with ‘no deal’ as anything else supposedly limits sovereignity. Johnson knows his support is dependent on Brexits, so is going for ‘no deal’.

  4. Roisin O'Niell

    As an Irish citizen I fear mightily for our future post-Brexit.

    In recent times the Irish have benefited from a short memory. Relations with the UK have improved tremendously to the extent that they assisted us financially after the downturn of 2008. As an independent country and a member of the EU net emigration has reversed.

    But actually many of us have a long memory. It carries back to many instances of betrayal. It goes back even to the Synod of Whitby when the Celtic Church was made subservient to the Church in Rome and then persecuted. Our history since then is punctuated by savage episodes of brutality often at the hands of the English.

    Personally I cannot see the Franco-German dominated EU being even a little bit interested in our, by then, entirely separated state on its periphery if there is a hard Brexit with no agreement. The feigned interest it has had in the Good Friday Agreement and the supposed protective arm it says it has thrown around us will both be lifted.

    The EU will just become another entity more interested in walls than bridges.

  5. Charles Hemmings

    A soldier would describe your exemplar as ‘operational’ detail.

    UK ‘stategy’ is much simpler….Leave.

    EU ‘tactics’ in the face of one of the big 3 leaving is also simple……Obfuscation.

    The majority of the British don’t identify as European. Many do but 2016 and 2019 put the question to the vote. The UK wants to trade with the EU. That’s all. Politics, Legislation, Constitutional issues and Sovereignty. Leave us alone. Please leave us alone.

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