The Brexit clock has ticked down 25 days since my last update – leaving just 79 until departure – but the parliamentary process to deliver it smoothly has barely moved forward.
Parliament ties May’s hands ahead of probable defeat
Thanks to the intervention of controversial Speaker John Bercow, this week’s parliamentary drama merely confirmed what seemed likely before Christmas – that backbench MPs are fast seizing control of the process from the government.
If Theresa May loses Tuesday’s Meaningful Vote – Betfair punters rate that almost certain at odds of 1.05 and the BBC estimate the government will barely get 200 votes – her hands will be swiftly tied by parliament.
Instead of having 21 sitting days to report back with a Plan B, the latest amendment means the government must do so within three – January 21st.
They have only scheduled 90 minutes for debate and one amendment, but that will be fought over and the Speaker has shown he won’t allow the government to evade scrutiny or run the clock down.
Once that debate is extended, countless scenarios are possible including some that nobody has yet envisaged. Here’s five ways it could play out.
Scenario A – Withdrawal Agreement eventually passes
Clearly, May’s plan was to run the clock down, eventually scaring rebel MPs into at least abstaining in fear of no deal. The Grieve amendment makes that less likely, as parliament can quickly force her hand.
In the absence of an alternative solution, though, this is the only deal on the table. On next Tuesday’s projected numbers, it feels dead but what if Parliament similarly blocks all the alternatives?