Distributed to Congress by Irish National Caucus

    John Manley. Irish News. Belfast. Saturday, March 30, 2019

    AFTER yesterday’s Westminster drama commentators are going to have to find new words to convey the depth of uncertainty

    that British politics finds itself in.

    The cure remains elusive for the Brexit condition and there’s a growing danger that it could become terminal.

    All the options that were there ahead of the so-called MV2.5 remain on the table but the margin of defeat for Theresa May, arguably double what she had hoped for at the very least, means the Tory leader is unlikely to try and push the withdrawal agreement through for a fourth time.

    But you can’t rule anything out. Nor can we discount the possibility that Mrs May will throw all the balls in the air by resigning or calling a general election.

    However, assuming the prime minister doesn’t hit the nuclear button just yet, there will now be a number of concurrent processes that will both seek to buy time and break the deadlock.

    Crashing out remains a possibility but it is something that will be arrived at by accident rather than design, and given its far-reaching consequences for Britain, Ireland and the EU, it’s hoped there’ll be enough of a collective effort to avoid such a scenario.

    On Monday, MPs will continue their search for consensus through the indicative votes process, which given yesterday’s events must surely carry more weight than it did on Wednesday.

    Brexiteers are justifiably unnerved by parliament’s intervention, as the more momentum it gathers, the greater the likelihood of a soft landing or no Brexit at all.

    The most popular options emerging from the backbencher-led process were a second referendum and a customs union between the UK and the EU, so support is expected to coalesce around these, though in common with the Withdrawal Agreement and every other solution floated thus far, they don’t yet have the backing of a majority of MPs.

    Given the disparate nature of Westminster at present, coupled with overriding party and personal interests, finding consensus is near impossible.

    Meanwhile, the British government is expected to ask the EU for another extension though this is likely to be conditional on a change of tack, given that Mrs. May’s approach appears to have run out of road. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was yesterday talking of a “long extension”, which will require participation in the European elections in late May.

    This is an outcome that nobody wanted, as the election will prove to be a divisive distraction but a legal necessity.

    Much commentary on the current logjam cites Theresa May’s Lancaster House speech and her insistence since that the UK must leave the customs union.

    What is now apparent is the need to rewind and reboot the Brexit process, this time forging a more workable strategy with broader cross-party support.

    But perhaps it’s just wishful thinking to believe the Tory leader has the room to maneuver or the inclination to concede she made fundamental mistakes.