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The Wages of David Cameron’s Staggering Incompetence

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The basic state of play on Brexit is that there is zero chance that the UK can get a good deal, because they need the EU far more than the EU needs them and the EU’s negotiators know this, and so there’s little chance of Parliament approving any actual deal as opposed to an abstract Trumpian Brexit deal that provides all of the benefits and none of the costs of EU membership:

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds said Tuesday that his party “couldn’t possibly vote for” the deal — which is problematic, since the Conservatives rely on the DUP’s ten votes for their majority coalition. What’s more, many of May’s own Conservatives are sure to oppose the deal; among them, the party’s most ardent Brexiteers, and its most recalcitrant remainers. Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson called May’s draft agreement “utterly unacceptable to anyone who believes in democracy” on Tuesday — while pro-remain MPs argued that democracy required May to subject her deal to a second referendum.

If the U.K. does not ink a deal with the E.U. by March 29, it will crash out of the union and into economic anarchy. It’s possible that the specter of a debased pound, chaotic ports, and food shortages will transform political realities in London between now and then. But at the moment, it is difficult to see how May can possibly get a majority of parliament to vote for a diplomatically viable form of Brexit — not least, because Brexit is an objectively terrible idea. Given a choice between claiming ownership of an actually-existing Brexit, and deriding any agreement put before the House of Commons as a betrayal of the one true Brexit (or, of the emerging pro-remain majority), few savvy politicians would choose the former unless they absolutely had to. And Labor MPs, Tory backbenchers, and the DUP simply do not have that obligation; only Theresa May, and any MPs who wish to stay on the Spice Girls’ good side, do.

For reasons of both policy and democratic legitimacy, any Brexit referendum process should have been two stages: an authorization to negotiate, and if that passed then a vote on the actual deal, not the fairy tale bullshit Johnson and the other grifters pretended Britain could get. But Cameron was really, really, really bad at his job and the damage to the UK is likely to be immense.

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