Five days after the UK was meant to leave the European Union, and with exactly one week to find a way out of the Brexit mess that has been entirely beyond her for the last three years, Theresa May has had a meeting with Jeremy Corbyn.
It went on for two hours, this meeting. And what did the two of them resolve? They resolved to have another meeting. Indeed they resolved to have several more meetings. And that’s it.
It’s a laugh, all this, isn’t it? Barely twenty four hours before, you might recall the heinous sound of David Davis on the BBC’s Today programme, still resolutely unbothered about having been wrong about absolutely everything for three full years. Davis is now best understood less as a human being and more a chuckling cartoon PEZ candy dispenser that’s accidentally been filled with miniature bricks of actual bulls**t.
Still, here he was again, absolutely sure that everything’s going to be fine because the EU always leaves everything to the last minute. That the last minute was last week, and we had to ask for an extension and are about to ask for another one because we haven’t got a clue what to do, is just one of the many realities with which he remains entirely unconcerned.
So what happened at this meeting? Well we don’t know, but the chances are the two of them sat there in total silence. They’re supposed to be about finding a cross-party solution to Brexit – some sort of customs union, perhaps.
The mere fact of the meeting taking place, and the reaction to it among the more deranged wing of the Tory Party, is the best way to understand why it happened. Large numbers of Tories are furious that Theresa May is bringing in Jeremy Corbyn and Labour to help her find a way to deliver Brexit. But there are no options with which they are not furious. They don’t actually want an election because the polls look terrifying. They know they can’t have the no deal they crave because the parliamentary votes for it just aren’t there. They won’t revoke Article 50 because that would be heresy, and the one deal that does exist – Theresa May’s deal, they consistently vote down.
So there is no way out. The prime minister knows all this all too well. The corner into which she has painted herself is truly a work of art. Only an election will break the deadlock. But she is now in a position whereby her party is likely to be electorally crucified both if it does deliver Brexit, or if it doesn’t. So all she can do is try and force Jeremy Corbyn into joining her in this tiny corner, knowing that if he refuses to do so, he paints himself into a corner of his own.
And so they sit there, resolving to have a meeting, and another meeting, but determined not to come to any actual resolution at all. And as these pointless meetings will roll on, pesky Labour MPs will continue to remind Jeremy Corbyn of the party’s actual Brexit policy, which is that any kind of deal that he and Theresa May might come to in these meetings, has to be put back to the people in a referendum. Which he won’t do.
While the two of them sat there, the House of Commons went through yet more mad scenes. They have now had two separate sessions of “indicative votes”, allowing them to indicate what form of Brexit they might be in favour of – the single market, the customs union, no deal, and so on and so on. On two separate occasions they’ve rejected every single option.
The only way it might ever pass it is through a general election, and the return of a House of Commons that is less in thrall to the ERG and the DUP, and who might therefore pass it.
But the only way they’ll be a general election is if Theresa May’s own MPs vote to end the government. And it’ll only be the hard Brexiteers that do that. And if they do, they’ll lose the party whip, and they won’t get to stand at the next election anyway.
So the way ahead is clear. Do nothing and hope for the best. Something will come up. The EU always leave it to the last minute anyway.
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