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Cameron’s Folly Continues to Unravel


The inevitable has not been evaded:

British Prime Minister Theresa May is postponing the vote on her Brexit deal, a last-minute move to avoid almost certain defeat in the UK Parliament on Tuesday.

May’s decision confirmed what many had already predicted: that not only does she lack the votes to pass her agreement that outlines Britain’s divorce from the European Union, but that it would have gone down with a humiliating margin, potentially putting her government in jeopardy.

“If we went ahead and held the vote tomorrow, the deal would be defeated by a significant margin,” May told Parliament on Monday. “We will therefore defer the vote scheduled for tomorrow and not proceed to divide the house at this time.”

May is ostensibly pushing the vote to buy more time to win support, though where that support could come from is stubbornly unclear. Her deal is deeply unpopular with just about everyone — from the hard Brexiteers who want a clean split with Europe to the pro-Remain camp who want to maintain close ties to the EU.

And there’s only so much she can delay. The Brexit deadline is March 29, 2019, and the closer the UK gets to that date without a deal, the more likely the possibility of a no-deal Brexit, where the UK leaves the bloc without any contingency plans.

Members of Parliament have proposed other solutions — holding another referendum to let the British people decide Brexit, or negotiating an even softer Brexit — but there’s no political consensus behind any one of those remedies right now.

This vote postponement means Britain will remain in Brexit limbo for just a little bit longer — with really no idea of what comes next. Or as one UK political editor put it: “Dear lord above what a fucking shambles.”

The ECJ has opened the door to do the obviously right thing, although whether it can be done is another question:

Proponents of a second referendum believe that enough voters will have witnessed the Brexit mess and will opt to Remain on a second try. Their case has been bolstered by a Monday decision by the European Court of Justice that said the UK could unilaterally revoke Article 50 — the mechanism of the EU treaty that the UK used to withdraw from the bloc — and basically cancel Brexit altogether, without the approval of the other 27 EU member states and as long as it remained consistent with UK laws.

And the answer is probably not.

This Twitter thread sums up the problem perfectly:

The British people should be given the opportunity to vote on the actual deal being offered, not on the unicorns being promised by Brexiters right and left. But the most disastrous outcome is probably still the most likely.

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