I've been too occupied with normal retired life for the past week (local walk on Monday; lunch in Harrogate on Tuesday with a couple of fellow choir members to help me put together 5000 words on the history of the last 25 years of our church; Wednesday hiking in the Dales with the local Ramblers group) to take in the details of the Brexit scenario as it has developed.
Briefly, I gather that MPs have failed to coalesce around any single solution to the problem. This should surprise no one, since there is no solution. It cannot be said too often (though now-a-days, in all the faux excitement as to who's up and who's down it is hardly said at all) that there is no solution: no deal is anywhere near as good as the deal we already have by remaining in the EU.
Mrs May has given up trying to placate the extremists in her cabinet, and has asked (two and a half years too late) Jeremy Corbyn* and the Labour Party (but not, it seems, the Liberal Democrats or the Scottish Nationalists) to help out.
I think it highly unlikely that Mrs May and Mr Corbyn will come up with any agreement, but if they do, it is bound to be something on the lines of either just remaining in the Customs Union (Mr Corbyn's option,which "solves" the Irish border problem but prevents the UK negotiating separate trade deals with other economies** so crosses one of Mrs May's red lines)
Or maybe Mr Corbyn will be even more successful and persuade Mrs May to agree to remain in the Single Market as well (aka the Norway + option or Common Market 2.0) This is the dream of the softest of the soft Brexiteers and would do least harm to the British economy
But if it is achieved, what is the point? We shall retain most of the economic advantages of remaining in the EU, but will have to accept all the rules and regulations, including the Four Freedoms (free movement of goods, services, capital and labour - and the greatest of these,as far, we believe, as those who voted leave are concerned, is Labour- ie immigration), plus the jurisdiction of the ECJ, without any say in making the rules and any British representatives on the Court.
In the very unlikely event of their cobbling together some agreed fudge I home they also agree to put the deal to the electorate in another public vote.
But without a deal we are scheduled to leave on the 12th April- a week tomorrow. My favoured scenario for this next eight days is therefore that:
- May and Corbyn fail to reach agreement;
- the EU refuse a further extension;
- so, as promised, the Liberal Democrats move in the Commons on Thursday 11th that we Revoke Article 50;
- this is passed, as it almost certainly should be if MPs stick to their published preferences, since nearly all of them except the extremist ERG have already said they against leaving with no deal.
* Interesting, but predictable, is that Tory outrage against Corbyn being involved in policy-making is directed not against his policies, in the EU context or anything else, but against his person -"a Marxist," "unfit to govern." In sport I understand this is know as playing the man rather than the ball and is thought to be despicable. So much for the "playing fields of Eton" ethos.
* It was good to hear on the radio yesterday even a Tory spokesperson admitting that to think the solo UK would be able to able to negotiate a better international trade deal that the mighty EU is sheer folly.