The imbroglio over Brexit has deepened beyond measure in the wake of last Friday’s bitter discord within Britain’s political class…and not with the entity on the other side of the Channel ~ the European Union headquarters.
The bickering within is no less an impediment. The cross-party talks between the Conservatives and Labour have come a cropper. This reaffirms that a compromise Brexit plan has collapsed, and hopes of a solution ~ three years after the referendum ~ are in tatters.
Despite the failure, both sides have insisted that the discussions had “taken place in good faith”, with Theresa May attributing the renewed crisis to the differences within Labour over a second referendum. Mr Jeremy Corbyn is not being wholly presumptuous when he reckons that the British Prime Minister’s exit from 10 Downing Street is “imminent”.
This would seem to suggest that any promises made by her at this juncture may or may not be kept by her successor, say Boris Johnson. If intra and inter-party differences lead to the resignation of the incumbent Prime Minister, there is life yet in the debate on whether Britain is prepared to leave the European Union… though Europe is and shall remain a geographical entity.
Six weeks of intermittent talks have ended in failure. On closer reflection, these talks had not been welcomed by many Conservative and Labour MPs who had expressed misgivings about the nature of the compromise, if any. Mr Corbyn’s letter to Mrs May offers a prognosis of the latest impasse ~ “It has become clear that, while there are some areas where compromise has been possible, we have been unable to bridge important policy gaps between us.
Even more crucially, the increasing weakness and instability of your government means there cannot be confidence in securing whatever might be agreed between us.” It was clear to the government on Friday that the talks were not going to reach a successful conclusion.
What was pretty obvious a couple of months ago is now confirmed. Differences between the Tories and Labour and, no less crucially, within the Tories have upset the applecart more severely than the discord at the high table in Brussels. Mrs May has not been able to carry her government on a formula on compromises, for example ministerial dissent over a possible Customs Union and the idea of allowing reduced food standards to secure a US trade deal.
Equally, Mr Corbyn’s insistence on a second referendum to heal divisions may be pie in the sky; they could become deeper and more insoluble. There is no agreement on the nitty-gritty of withdrawal. The British body politic is convulsing. The time for Brexit is not yet. This is the message to be drawn from the roller-coaster Brexit narrative.