Theresa May’s consent with the EU somehow gets through the House of Commons

Michael King

Lawmakers are in no hurry to snatch a deal or a Brexit delay. A growing sense of unease in the economy will place extra pressure on parliament to break the deadlock. This may be enough to convince a few MPs to reluctantly back the deal at the last minute, although whether their numbers will be enough depends a lot on how the final deal looks after the 21 March EU Council.

It is difficult to escape the feeling that the Brexitlegacy could stretch out until days, or maybe even hours, before the UK is due to leave on 29 March. Reports now suggest things might go as late as the EU Council meeting on 21 March before some deal gets struck.

Britain can survive to be an island, which it had managed moderately well through most of its history, ignoring the days of empire when it got tangled up with the rest of the world and misunderstood the colonies as an extension of itself.

Europe’s post-Brexit hopes a successful separation will also face a rude awakening. Once extricated from Brexit’s tiresome diversions, a slew of burning issues will demand attention.

Europe also has a relationship with Iran at variance with that of America. However, America is upending decades of foreign policy, demanding a new, transactional world order that keeps it in the driving seat.

There are few signs that Theresa May is prepared to seek cross-party consensus on an alternative proposal. That’s not to say this won’t be the way things go in the end, but for now, the Conservative leader is focusing on keeping her bitterly divided party held together.

The odds of a second referendum also appear to have drifted lower. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn remains reluctant to back one, not least because some Labour MPs represent leave-supporting areas.

Today’s America, versus America led by generations of previous presidents, questions trans-Atlantic ties to the point that the NATO military alliance has never seemed so imperiled.

There’s little doubt now that more time will be needed to deliver Brexit – whatever happens between now and 29 March. The process of translating existing EU rules into the UK rulebook still has a long way to go, although there is talk that much of this could be rushed through at the last minute with rarely used, emergency processes. As we noted earlier in the year, orchestrating alternative Brexit options could take much longer still.

But while a delay appears increasingly inevitable, some lawmakers are reluctant to back this strategy just yet. A plan, tabled by MP Yvette Cooper and Nick Boles that laid the groundwork for an Article 50 extension, was rejected by MPs at the end of January. Two weeks on, and the plan’s authors have decided to save a repeat fight until later to try and yield greater success.

Russia, not quite the pole as it once was as part of the Soviet Union, which is a spoiler, eying a weakening Europe. Being America’s President, Donald Trump, the most powerful man in the world, still holds the key to how turbulent the next few years will be.

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