So, at long last, it seems that the negotiations on Brexit between the United Kingdom and the European Union have produced a draft agreement. We do not yet know what it contains but it will be a compromise that falls far short of the high expectations of June 2016 when the British voted to leave. It will tie Britain to the EU’s customs union and single market for an indefinite but probably very long time. Instead of making a glorious leap to independence, Britain will become a satellite orbiting the European planet, obliged to follow rules it will have no say in devising.
This is an exercise in damage limitation, not a bold break from the recent past. But the question is whether the British political system is capable of resigning itself to this least bad outcome. Theresa May will put the draft deal to her cabinet Wednesday and thereafter try to cobble together a parliamentary majority for it at Westminster. Can a chaotic political establishment find a way to swallow a complex, ambiguous, and deeply disillusioning necessity? Nothing in this story so far suggests that this will be easy.
Oscar Wilde’s Lady Bracknell did not quite say that when a government loses its mind it may be regarded as a misfortune but when the opposition does so as well, it begins to look like carelessness. But had she been around for Brexit, she might well have done. The British government’s journey toward Brexit is like a ride in Disneyland: every bout of soaring optimism is followed by a vertiginous plummet into despair. [Continue reading…]
Theresa May will launch a high-stakes battle to sell her Brexit deal to parliament on Thursday, after clinching the support of her deeply-divided cabinet during a fraught five-hour meeting in Downing Street.
Emerging from No 10 on Wednesday night, May said she believed “with my head and my heart” that her deal was the best one for the UK – and the only alternatives were no deal, or no Brexit.
She said her ministers had taken a “collective” decision, to press ahead with finalising the deal in Brussels, which she will then have to bring back to parliament for approval; but it was clear there had been significant dissent. [Continue reading…]