Post-reason politics

On the face of it, today’s Commons defeat for Theresa May, the second in a week which started badly and is steadily getting worse for her, seems like good news for Remainers, since it obliges the government to come up with a new Brexit plan sooner rather than later. Whatever they propose will then be open to amendment, and, as opposition to no-deal is the one position that can just about command a majority, that would seem to rule out the worst of the imaginable outcomes.

However this potential escape plan will only be triggered if, or realistically when, the vote scheduled for next week is lost. May still has the option of avoiding this by postponing the vote again. This would surely trigger a no-confidence motion from Labour, but May could be calculating that her backbenchers are not quite angry enough to bring down their own government, so the only consequence would be that a bit more time was wasted.

How any of these machinations serve the national interest is far from clear. At this point it seems to have become an abstract game, with players who are only interested in the act of winning or losing, and not what the actual meaning of victory or defeat might turn out to be.

Of course there isn’t really a unified “national interest”, and anyone claiming to be acting in the name of one is usually looking out for just one side of the class divide. Still it’s hard to see that anyone will benefit from a disorderly exit, so I had expected that the bourgeoisie might have come up with a more sensible solution. Not for the first time in this saga it looks like we may be beyond the realm of rationality altogether.

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