Temporary reprieve

I may have been in my happy place yesterday, but it was back to horrific reality today. After a day of suspense in Brussels, the country is still teetering on the brink of disaster.

I guess that I shouldn’t be surprised by the Prime Minister acting in a way that completely contradicts what she said a week, or a day, or an hour previously, but it has been particularly difficult to follow her intentions since events in the commons last week. Having said that a vote ruling out no-deal would prompt her to request a long extension to Article 50, she proceeded to ask for a brief delay, until the end of June. The EU responded with a heavily conditional offer, putting the exit off until May 22nd, if a deal is agreed, or April 12th, if May’s plan is rejected by Parliament again. They did leave open the possibility of a longer pause, if the UK identifies a concrete plan to break the impasse, probably a general election.

Attention will now shift back to Westminster, where May seems determined to try to get her deal through at the third attempt, though such an outcome seems extremely unlikely. Again it’s hard to fathom her tactics; she seems to be threatening MPs with the spectre of no-deal, but the people she has to win over, the hard-core Tory Brexiteers, are in favour of crashing out, so she is just strengthening their resolve. Then she undermined her chances of bringing more moderate Tories, or wavering Labour MPs, on board by addressing the nation with a shamelessly populist broadcast blaming them for the whole mess, a message she’s been desperately trying to dial back today.

So we are no further forward, though at least the day of reckoning has been put off for a couple of weeks, and hope of a non-disastrous outcome hasn’t been entirely extinguished. We should be grateful for small mercies I guess.

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