“No deal is better than a bad deal,” she said. She may say it againby Steve Bloomfield / January 14, 2019 / Leave a comment
If Theresa May loses tomorrow’s vote on the Withdrawal Agreement she appears to have three options. She could try again, talking up the dangers of no deal while perhaps signalling to Labour MPs that she would toughen up workers’ rights, maybe even back a customs union. The closer it gets to 29th March, the easier—she hopes—this will be.
She could swallow her opposition to a second referendum and decide that the only way to get her Brexit deal passed is by throwing it back to the people.
Or she could hold a general election, hoping that her majority is large enough to force through her preferred flavour of Brexit.
But there is another option—she could back no deal.
May has two priorities: delivering Brexit and remaining as prime minister. Backing no deal could be the only way to achieve both goals.
Before we explore how she could back “no deal,” particularly after making it so clear in recent weeks that it would be damaging to the economy, let’s look at the other options.
A general election would solve nothing. Around a third of her MPs are on the record as opposing her deal, making it impossible to sign up to a manifesto pledge to deliver it. It’s likely that most candidates in potentially winnable seats will also oppose the deal—after all, they will want a future in the Tory Party. Even if she wins a majority, which isn’t impossible, many of those MPs will not back her deal, leaving her back where she started.
A second referendum could work. She could say to the country that she had negotiated the best deal and that parliament had failed in its duty to “respect the will of the people.” Throwing it back to us to decide if we still wanted to press ahead would make some sense. The problem is that she has made it abundantly clear that a second referendum, something she has confusingly called “a politicians’ vote,” would be an outrage. Her language on a new referendum is far more hardline than her language on no deal.
And that’s before we even get into the detail of whether the EU27…