And so in the final week (or is it 19 days?) there were five choices:
- Vote for Mrs May’s Deal – Highly Unlikely.
- Revoke Article 50 – Civil War.
- A last-minute longer extension offered by the EU before the 29th March/12th April with conditions (likely financial and attached to either a second referendum or some other significant game-changer like a General Election to break the impasse in Parliament) – Ugly; merely kicking Civil War down the track and promoting the rise of some unsavouries in UK Politics.
- No Deal Exit – the horse still with its head in front right now. Real Brexit – along the lines of what the People voted for.
- Parliament seizes control and goes for something that denies the will of the People who put them in Parliament – Civil War.
What a mess.
For a long while – putting itself in the firing line of a load of abuse – this magazine has been arguing for a No Deal Exit. For a clean break from the EU which allows them and us to gather ourselves and see the logic of a free trade deal. The prize is within touching distance and it should be seized with humility. It would be sensible for the EU to offer the UK a last minute No Deal scenario with time to adjust but the EU has all along preferred ideology over sanity, so that would seem a forlorn hope at this late stage.
So much of these Brexit negotiations has been about our Prime Minister, Theresa May – buffeted from all sides and often described by both foreign and British press as a laughing stock. Just last Tuesday the Remain-supporting Financial Times described Mrs May as “narrow, rigid, unimaginative, sly, secretive and wholly lacking in the political skills necessary to win over voters or build alliances, rarely can a leader have looked less suited to the task before them.”
Last night in Brussels May was humiliated even more. Ushered into a side room and given dinner by room service while the EU27 enjoyed dinner served at a banquet table. Not a good look for the leader of Great Britain. Indeed, maybe it is time to call in Trump, whose trade negotiations with the EU have stalled, as he tries to get down the EU trade surplus in his country.
Some of us still had some hope for Mrs May. We used to wonder – what if Mrs May knew all along that, in the face of a Remain Parliament and a mafia-like EU, the only way she could be true to the vote of the British People was to implement red lines which she knew would result in an unacceptable deal? Is it too late for Number 10 to spin the May legacy as one which required keeping the media, Remainers and Leavers on board guessing until the very last moment – to run the clock down? To save British Democracy? Could Mrs May’s clean break No Deal from the EU – looked back on from booming, low tax Britain in 2025 – become one of the great chapters in British history as a woman Prime Minister sacrificed herself for her country to deliver Brexit for the people? Could her speech to the nation on Wednesday night have been a final attempt to ensure that even fewer MPs voted for her deal? Could poker players be examining May’s legacy to pick up tips?
Yesterday’s abject humiliation has shown that Mrs May could not have planned this mess. However it is just possible that she winds up doing the right thing by mistake.
For Mrs May – especially over the next nineteen days – is still just one EU/Establishment-bashing speech away from claiming her place in the annals of British History as the unshakeable Prime Minister who set us free from the EUSSR before it split at the seams.
Likely revisionism – but Mrs May (presuming she does not step down and be known as Britain’s Worst Prime Minister) could and should own the situation she has done so much to create. Why not? In just 19 days’ time Brexiteers across the land could be toasting her name, while the #FBPE crowd scratch their heads in utter bemusement and realise that, in spite of their campaigns flowing with Remainer gold, they were outplayed.
We are near. How we got here is for historians to unpick.
Now – despite the 12 day delay if that happens – hold fast. Let’s hope we don’t have to waste all that tractor time on the motorway.