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Brexit, parliament and the four-body problem

The impact of the referendum could change the fundamental structure of our parliamentary democracy

By Colin Talbot  

Westminster Palace in London. Photo: PA

The “three-body problem” is physics is fairly well known. Crudely, in Newtonian physics it is fairly easy to reduce the interactions of two astronomical bodies—like the Earth and the Moon—to simple equations, but as soon as you introduce a third body—like the Sun—the maths becomes much more complex.

Stripped of inessential factors, the way modern British Government usually works can be seen as being a bit like the three-body problem. Between elections, and in normal times when there is a Parliamentary majority for a…

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