Brexit: Boxed In

There seems to be no clear (or any) path left out of the current impasse.

By Dr Richard North and cross-posted from

There’s a great deal that’s already been said about the Supreme Court judgement, and little to be gained by rehearsing issues already done at great length. As of now, however, it takes us no closer to a Brexit resolution and, if anything, it complicates something which is already fearsomely complicated.

In particular, allowing parliament to resume does us no favours. This is an institution which is part of the problem. It has rejected the only deal that could be acceptable to the EU, it has sought to block a no-deal scenario (and may have succeeded in so doing), and is pushing Johnson to secure yet another Article 50 extension which ostensibly serves no other purpose but to delay Brexit those few months more.

In the view of the Financial Times, Johnson’s political strategy for delivering Brexit now lies in disarray, pulled apart by parliament and now the courts.

But, while his team is undoubtedly considering his options, the term “boxed in” readily springs to mind. I looked at what was available yesterday and there seems to be no clear (or any) path left.

To that extent, we are dealing with a unique political situation – a problem which, when viewed from any angle, seems insoluble. At the risk of repetition, one has to observe that every avenue seems blocked.

For the rest, the situation is unreadable. Factions in parliament, one assumes, will be planning their own moves but, as this is far from a homogeneous institution, it hardly knows its own mind, and the outcome of any action it might take (if any) is unpredictable.

From what we can ascertain, Corbyn is blowing hot and cold on a general election, and thus being ambivalent about a vote of no confidence. With the same lack of enthusiasm amongst the so-called “rebel alliance” for Corbyn as a leader of an interim government, there is no certainty that this move can succeed.

If the opposition go off at half-cock, though, a vote would end up triggering a general election, leaving Johnson still in Downing Street with parliament dissolved. With the date of the election in the gift of the prime minister, this would give Johnson a free pass in devising his own path to a no-deal Brexit.

For those reasons, it looks as if it is unlikely that we will see a vote, creating a bizarre situation where an unpopular minority government is locked in office without the wherewithal to run its own agenda

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