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There is a way out of this mess, even, or especially, with a constrained timeline. But it would require a bit of political imagination on May's part. Hence everyone's pessimism.

She has to be able to come to accept that her deal is dead, in this parliament at least, and that it is her responsibility, as PM, to find and chart an alternative route.

This means one of two things:

  1. Accept the default outcome of no deal, which will in all probability mean no future trade deal either, and no certainty that even "WTO rules" will apply. "WTO rules" are an unchallenged Brexiteer shibboleth. In reality, if the EU decides "WTO rules" aren't in its interest, it can tear up the WTO rulebook, as Trump has done, and refuse to agree the UK is a WTO member in good standing, refuse to agree WTO tariffs and quotas with the UK, or even withdraw from the WTO altogether. After all, the vast bulk of EU external trade is governed by bi-lateral trade deals rather than by generic WTO rules.

  2. She can follow the logic of her own position - which is that her deal is in the UK's best interests - and put her deal directly to the British people either by was of a general election or second referendum. This will require at least a couple of months to organise, hence a further A.50 extension, and participation in EP elections. A general election could be called for May 23rd. to coincide with EP elections and reduce the cost and political overhead. Corbyn is sure to agree and provide a parliamentary majority, no matter what the hard core Tory Brexiteers say.

A general election in May will cause huge dilemmas for both parties. The Tories will try to ride two horses at once: May's deal and no deal, in an attempt to head of UKIP, Farage, the BNP and assorted fascists. Labour will also be trying to ride two horses: "A better deal" which Corbyn will claim to be able to negotiate - to general scepticism if not derision -  to be followed by a second referendum giving the people a final choice between Corbyn's deal and Remain.

I really don't understand what peoples problem with a second referendum or general election is. Democracy is a moving feast. People change their minds all the time. Different parties with different policies come to power. It doesn't really matter what people thought they were promised in 2016. The bottom line is that "having cake and eating it" isn't on the menu. It's time to make a more informed choice. But it is all down to May, and she has shown no evidence of imagination or ability so far.

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Mar 24th, 2019 at 04:14:52 PM EST
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