Continental rebuff

Theresa May travelled to Brussels yesterday, determined to demand a better deal from the EU, and returned today with the guarantee on the temporary nature of the Irish backstop that she needed to win the support of her troublesome backbenchers.

Only joking! In the least-surprising diplomatic development since Agamemnon sailed for Troy, the European Council gave May short shrift, leaving her already threadbare authority practically nonexistent.

More optimistic observers are predicting that this turn of events might persuade May that a fresh referendum, pitching her deal against no Brexit, is the only way forward. I think this underestimates her unwillingness to bear responsibility for the split in the Tory Party such a plan would inevitably precipitate, though nothing is too extraordinary to contemplate these days, so it may well happen.

The immediate question is whether Labour will go for the kill by tabling a no confidence motion in the next week or so, while the hard-core Brexiteers are still riled-up enough that they might vote to bring down their own government. One would imagine that Labour would win any subsequent election though, which would take a hard exit off the table, so I think some semblance of Tory discipline will probably reappear, and they will concentrate on running down the clock so that we crash out by default.

That’s how it looks to me tonight; events will probably prove me wrong by tomorrow. It’s exciting enough to keep me blogging regularly, so it’s not all bad news…

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