Fragile hope

Another day, another defeat for the government in Parliament. The practical effects of losing this vote are apparently limited; its significance lies in the demonstration that there is a cross-party coalition determined to avoid a no-deal outcome, which seems to have enough support to prevail.

There might be some sort of consensus emerging around the proposal to suspend Article 50 (though some doubt whether it is even possible); however there is nothing like agreement on what to do with the extra time that manoeuvre would buy. The more optimistic Remainers want to organise another referendum, while more pragmatic pro-Europeans and soft-Brexiters would like a chance to negotiate a better exit deal. Such divisions may well sink the nascent alliance before it gets started.

If May’s proposal goes to the vote next week as planned – and that is far from certain – and suffers its expected defeat, then it looks to me that the most likely outcome will just be more chaos and paralysis, which plays straight into the hands of the no-deal zealots. Similarly, it’s hard to imagine that another postponement will calm anyone down.

So it looks like we’re doomed is what I’m saying. Unless there’s some sort of unexpected development in the next few days…

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