Deadlock redux

Well, it turned out that there was to be no miracle in Westminster tonight, as the government went down to a defeat which, while not as catastrophic as last month, was still emphatic enough to banish any idea that they could try to resuscitate the deal with a third vote.

What now? There is to be a vote tomorrow on a motion ruling out a no-deal exit, which seems likely to pass, especially as Tory MPs will be given a free vote on the issue, a concession Theresa May was forced to grant by the threat of half of her cabinet rebelling, and draining away what little remains of her political authority.

However this will leave parliament in the position of demanding a deal, while simultaneously refusing the only deal on offer. There will be a move to request a delay in the departure date, but it is far from clear that the EU will cooperate with this, since there is no consensus on what should be done with the extra time, and the prospect of this paralysis continuing for the next two, three, or however many months is not particularly appealing.

If there is anything that can be said with certainty about this process, it’s that no development, however outlandish, can ever be ruled out, but it does look like we’re running out of time for a happy ending. A few days ago I predicted that the UK would crash out of the EU on the 29th, and nothing tonight has made me change my mind.

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