The National Today

Deal or no deal: Brexit by the numbers

A closer look at the day's most notable stories with The National's Jonathon Gatehouse: the numbers behind Brexit, deal or no deal; Theresa May has a long night ahead, no matter which way the Brexit-deal vote goes; Britons are stockpiling goods in case Brexit plunges the economy into chaos.

Newsletter: A closer look at the day's most notable stories

Anti-Brexit and pro-EU balloons fly outside the Houses of Parliament in London on Tuesday. (Toby Melville/Reuters)

Welcome to The National Today newsletter, a closer look at what's happening around some of the day's most notable stories. Sign up here and it will be delivered directly to your inbox Monday to Friday.


  • The numbers behind Brexit, deal or no deal.
  • British Prime Minister Theresa May has a long night ahead, no matter which way the vote goes on her proposed Brexit deal.
  • People in the U.K. are stocking up on food and other emergency supplies in case Brexit plunges the country's economy into chaos.
  • Missed The National last night? Watch it here.

Brexit by the numbers

Today is the make-or-break day for Theresa May's deal on withdrawing the United Kingdom from the European Union.

But whether the House of Commons opts for a negotiated divorce or a no-deal exit come March 29, there is still a lot of chaos ahead in the next 73 days.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May leaves Downing Street in London on Tuesday ahead of the vote on the proposed Brexit deal with the EU. (Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters)

Here's a look at some of the numbers surrounding Brexit:

51.9:  Percentage of voters who cast their ballot for the "Leave" option in the 2016 EU referendum.

54 per cent:  Proportion of U.K. voters who would now opt to "Remain."

23 per cent:  Proportion of Conservative voters who support May's Brexit deal.

16:  Number of times the Brexit deal has been debated in the House of Commons in the run-up to today's vote.

9:  Number of ministers who have resigned from May's cabinet over the deal.

8:  Number of ministers who resigned over Brexit before the deal was even struck.

Pro-Brexit and anti-Brexit protesters demonstrate outside the Houses of Parliament in London on Tuesday ahead of a vote on Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal. (Henry Nicholls/Reuters)

£350 million a week ($591.7 million Cdn):  The purported amount of money available for the National Health Service after ditching the European Union, as advertised on the side of the Leave campaign bus.

£1.25 billion a week:  Estimated cost of a no-deal exit in 2033-34, the equivalent of 44 per cent of the current NHS budget.

£100 billion:  Estimated total, cumulative cost of Brexit by 2030 under May's proposed deal.

£70 billion:  Estimated total, cumulative cost by 2030 of the no-deal scenario.

Trucks leave the disused Manston Airport in Kent on Jan. 7 for a test drive to the Port of Dover during a trial of how the road will cope with congestion in case of a 'no-deal' Brexit that causes customs backups. (Toby Melville/Reuters)

£4 billion-plus:  The amount the May government has spent on no-deal preparations since the 2016 referendum.

8 per cent:  Amount the British economy could shrink after a no-agreement exit from the EU.

7 per cent:  The economic contraction at the height of the Great Depression.

5-to-10 per cent:  The projected rise in food prices after an abrupt divorce from Europe.

2 weeks:  The estimated supply of Mars bars in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Two of the 21 ingredients in the candy bar can only be sourced from Europe.

Goods such as Mars chocolate bars may face production issues around the availability of some ingredients in Britain after Brexit. (Thomas White/Reuters)

5,000:  The number of additional staff that the Revenue and Customs agency is training to deploy at ports of entry to help clear the anticipated backlog of trucks and vehicles.

47.15 kilometres:  The estimated length of the traffic jam along the M20 road leading to Dover if every vehicle crossing the English Channel spends just four minutes in customs.

3,500:  Number of British Army troops on standby to deal with post-Brexit "disruptions."

Living and travelling in other European countries could become more complicated for U.K. citizens after Brexit. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

1.3 million:  The number of U.K.-born citizens who live in other EU nations.

3.2 million:  The number of EU-member citizens who currently reside in the U.K.

916:  Days that Theresa May has been prime minister.

A meaningful vote

The National co-host Adrienne Arsenault is in London as part of the CBC team covering the vote on the Brexit deal.


Maybe you heard Labour MP David Lammy say on The National last night that today's "meaningful" vote in the British Parliament is "the most important in a generation."

Before you roll your skeptical eyes — not that there's anything wrong with that — consider Tulip Siddiq's decision. She, too, is a Labour MP and wants to maintain a strong relationship with the EU, but she had other plans today; a C section. So she asked her doctors to delay it until Thursday to enable her to vote this evening.

Her husband was put on deck to push her into the commons in a wheelchair. Then she'll vote against Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal. That way, her little one can enter this confused world when it's more politically convenient.

Tulip Siddiq, U.K. MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, has postponed her C-section in order to vote on the proposed Brexit deal on Tuesday. (Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

This has sparked a debate in Parliament about when they will get around to allowing proxy voting, but that reasonable conversation will have to wait while the shouting over how to leave the EU goes on.

And on.

The numbers this day clearly matter. While it's dangerous to speculate, the sense a few hours out is that the PM's deal will lose. But it's the scale of the loss that will be most telling.

If the margins are narrow, then May could try to spin it as enough of a victory to allow her to go back to the EU to try to gain a few more compromises. She'd then present a 2.0 version by Monday for, yes, perhaps another meaningful "most important vote in a generation."

No, that's not a lot of time, but the Brexit deadline is advancing. Some TV networks have been running a countdown to March 29 — 73 days, 11 hours, 18 minutes, 22 seconds.

It's been mesmerizingly ticking away on the bottom of some screens for 18 months now.

If the loss in today's vote is massive, and that could indeed happen, then Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will likely trigger a no confidence vote.

He'd prefer a general election to happen next. Some in his party prefer a second referendum next. Maybe there will be both.

Is it any wonder donuts were delivered by armed guard to No. 10 Downing street this morning.

The Prime Minister knows she has a long night ahead. We'll be there. Thomas Daigle will be following the political moments inside Parliament. I'll be on the streets in London with people watching their country's wrenching existential decision unfold on big screens.

You can drink in public in the U.K. It's a safe Brexit bet they will tonight.

- Adrienne Arsenault

  • WATCH: The National's Brexit-deal vote coverage tonight on CBC Television and streamed online

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Brexit stockpiling

Britons are bracing for supply shortages if their prime minister's EU withdrawal agreement is rejected today and Britain ends up crashing out with no deal, writes London reporter Thomas Daigle.

In the U.K., it's come to this.

In a converted garage behind his home out the outskirts of Leeds, England, James Blake is packing and selling emergency Brexit kits.

In recent weeks, he says he's sold between 500 and 600 boxes, shipping them across the U.K. at a price of about $500 each.

"My hope is that you don't need it," he said.

"You buy home insurance with the hope that you don't need it, but that time that you do, you're glad you've got it."

James Blake packs and sells emergency food kits. He created a Brexit box with freeze-dried meals and other supplies. (Thomas Daigle/CBC)

Blake's Brexit kits contain long-life food (using freeze-drying technology developed by NASA), a water filter and a fire starter. They're intended for use if the U.K. separates from the EU in a disorderly fashion, then faces immediate trade barriers and store shelves go empty.

There's still a long way to go before — and if — that ever happens. But Britons are getting ready just in case.

Google data shows "what to stockpile for Brexit" has become one of the top questions British users are asking.

The country's future hinges on the House of Commons vote today. British MPs are expected to reject Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal. If they do, she'll have less than a week to return with a plan B.

So far, the only alternative May has been willing to openly discuss is leaving without a deal. And that raises fears of tariffs, customs delays and supply shortages. As it stands, Britain imports about half the food consumed on this island.

Jo Elgarf, one of the many Britons stockpiling non-perishable food, told me it's her own "insurance policy in case everything goes wrong."

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, Jo Elgarf worries about potential import delays affecting medication needed for her daughter Nora, 4. (Stephanie Jenzer/CBC)

She's been buying extra groceries since last June, worried that no EU divorce agreement would be finalized by now.

She was right. With 73 days until the breakup, her dreaded no-deal countdown continues. And her cupboards are packed with corned beef, dry pasta and canned corn, just in case.

Watch Thomas Daigle's story on Brexit preppers:

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, a growing number of Britons are stockpiling food and medication as a precaution, fearing delays at the border will lead to shortages on foreign goods across the country. And the public isn't alone. Government agencies are also taking steps to prevent supplies from running out. 5:10

A few words on ... 

A downmarket celebration.

    Quote of the moment

    "We are behind the attack in Nairobi. The operation is going on. We shall give details later."

    - Abdiasis Abu Musab, a military operations spokesman for the Somali militant group al Shabaab, claims responsibility for the gun and bomb attack on a hotel and office complex in the Kenyan capital today.

    Security forces help civilians to safety as cars burn at a hotel complex in Nairobi on Tuesday. The attack in Kenya's capital sent people fleeing in panic as explosions and heavy gunfire reverberated through the neighborhood. (Ben Curtis/Associated Press)

    What The National is reading

    • ICC acquits ex-Ivory Coast president of crimes against humanity (BBC)
    • 2018 was worst year for Canadian housing markets since 2012 (CBC)
    • Odds of dying from opioids in U.S. surpass risk from car accidents (CNN)
    • Zimbabwe's president hikes fuel prices to $12 US a gallon, chaos ensues (Washington Post)
    • A new war rages in Myanmar (Asia Times)
    • China germinates first seed on the moon (Guardian)
    • Launch delayed again for showcase Canadian satellite system (CBC)
    • El Chapo attorney's affair, sexting steals spotlight at trail (Fox News)

    Today in history

    Jan. 15, 1982: Dan Aykroyd talks about his rise to fame

    The Saturday Night Live alumnus wears a wacky Hawaiian shirt, but the talk about his career path is straight and serious. His studies in criminology and sociology at Carleton University did teach him something, he allows — the structure and syntax of writing. But if it wasn't for comedy? "I might be selling snowmobiles," he says. "Manual labour. Probably driving a truck or something."

    In this Jan. 15, 1982 interview, Canadian actor Dan Aykroyd talks with the CBC's Bob Gardiner about his rise to fame. 2:58

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    About the Author

    Jonathon Gatehouse

    Jonathon Gatehouse

    Has covered news and politics at home and abroad, reporting from dozens of countries. He has also written extensively about sports, including seven Olympic Games and a best-selling book on the business of pro-hockey.