Departure delayed

A relatively straightforward day, by recent standards, with what appears to be a clear result; the UK will not, after all, be leaving the EU on the 29th of March, assuming that Brussels is good enough to let us stay for a bit longer.

How long depends on whether the ERG hold their nerve and vote down May’s deal when she brings it back for a third time next week. If they do we could stay in for another 2 years, or perhaps indefinitely. If they crumble, then we could be gone by the summer.

It seems counterintuitive that Brexit may end up being frustrated by its most ardent supporters, but I guess the die-hard leavers are calculating that they can still cause enough chaos to frustrate any sort of sensible deal, however long the delay, and they might be right. A lot depends on how many of them are willing to risk losing the prize altogether in pursuit of their hard departure.

It does seem like a big gamble; any pause the EU is minded to grant will surely be conditional on the existence of a realistic plan to end the deadlock, which means either a general election or another referendum. The former would be odds-on to return a Labour government, while polls suggest that the latter would deliver victory to the remain cause.

So I’m beginning to think that, against all expectations, May’s deal might just sneak through. Perhaps she is a political genius after all.

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