12 December 2018, The Tablet

Why the Prime Minister’s efforts to delay the inevitable are not in the public interest


 

Theresa May’s hold on power has become ever more tenuous over the last few weeks, and there is no sign of any solution to her predicament. It is fair to admit she was dealt a bad hand, but she has played it badly too. She never tried to build a cross-party consensus to ensure that, when she finally finished negotiating with the European Union, there was a realistic prospect of the outcome being carried through Parliament. Indeed, her first instinct was to cut Parliament out of the loop, and she had to be forced by the courts to concede that the House of Commons should have a “meaningful vote” on the final package. That vote, due on Tuesday of this week after five days of debate, was suddenly postponed to an unspecified date – though she has since indicated it will be before 21 January – when it became obvious she was about to be heavily defeated.

She has asked the European Union for further assurances regarding the interpretation of the Withdrawal Agreement. But the gap between the most they are likely to offer and the least she can accept to give the agreement any reasonable chance of success in Parliament seems – at present – to be unbridgeable.

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