Perhaps nothing better captures the utter confusion surrounding Brexit than Thursday’s vote by Parliament to try to delay the UK’s scheduled March 29 departure from the European Union.
The day before, the House of Commons voted its disapproval of a “hard” Brexit — a fast, clean break. Yet it has also twice rejected, by historically overwhelming margins, Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal with the EU for something in between.
It also nixed the idea of a new public referendum on whether to leave the EU — a “re-vote” of the question that the public narrowly approved in 2016.
In short, Parliament has no majority for any way forward.
Members plainly don’t know what they want. They even rejected (by single vote) a motion to seize control of the Brexit process, which hard-line Brexiteers feared would lead to a softer deal that retains closer ties to Europe than May proposed.
So May will ask for a lengthy (perhaps a year or more) delay from the 27 EU members, which must approve it unanimously, though that now seems likely.
But first, she’ll bring her plan up yet again for a vote next week — giving the hard-liners the unpleasant choice of 1) finally approving her plan or 2) risking an endless series of delays.
As one Conservative MP complained: “She is holding a pistol to our heads by threatening that we will lose Brexit entirely.”
Meanwhile, the years of muddle have ensured that May’s career will end soon, with both major parties still divided internally over all the key issues related to Brexit (and the Labour party further split over its huge anti-Semitism problem).
However the immediate drama plays out, British politics are going to be a mess until further notice.
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