There are now 16 days, 23 hours, and 53 minutes left until the UK leaves the EU with no withdrawal agreement, unless something changes very soon.
It’s not looking good.
I’m glad that the possibility of cancelling the whole farrago still exists, but on balance, I can’t help thinking that it was irresponsible of MPs to vote against the deal. Sure, it’s a rubbish deal, but what did they expect when they voted to let Theresa May of all people trigger Article 50?! It had at least three redeeming qualities:
- It deferred the chaos of crashing out with no continuity of arrangements.
- It mostly preserved the fragile status quo in Northern Ireland.
- It actually existed.
Everything else falls into the future relationship category, and isn’t part of the Withdrawal Deal itself. Given her demonstrated antipathy towards foreigners, Theresa May was never going to agree to anything that preserved Single Market membership with its Freedom of Movement obligations. But at least it would have been preserved through transition until the end of 2020, with the hope that by then a future government with less xenophobic baggage and more pragmatism might be able to steer towards somewhere more sensible.
The choices remain the same, and there’s no majority for any of them:
- Leave with a deal
- Leave without a deal
- Revoke and remain
Instead, uncertainty continues, and the risk of a cliff edge termination is uncomfortably high. There’s no time to do anything without an extension, which itself requires unanimity from the remaining EU members. There’s not even time to legislate to mitigate leaving without a deal.
It’s already too late for some: look at this Twitter thread of hundreds and hundreds of examples of money wasted, jobs lost, and investment pulled. That’s not coming back, blue passports or burgundy.
Nonetheless, the only choice that is actually within the UK’s control at the moment is to revoke Article 50. You tried to Brexit. You failed. Perhaps revocation is now the only responsible choice. Unfortunately, responsibility seems in short supply at the Palace of Westminster in these latter days, ever since it was delegated forever to the Will of the People on one rainy day in summer 2016.