Dangerous Times in the U.K.: Thoughts on the Brexit mess

Dangerous Times in the U.K.: Thoughts on the Brexit mess, by Theodore Dalrymple.

Theresa May did not emerge from a social vacuum. She is typical of the class that has gradually attained power in Britain, from the lowest levels of the administration to the highest: unoriginal, vacillating, humorless, prey to the latest bad ideas, intellectually mediocre, believing in nothing very much, mistaking obstinacy for strength, timid but nevertheless avid for power. Thousands of minor Mays populate our institutions, as thousands of minor Blairs did before them. …

The House of Commons as a whole, including the Conservatives, deprived May of leverage with which to renegotiate, because it voted that it would not accept leaving the Union without a deal. This deprived the European Union of any reason to renegotiate anything: it was a preemptive surrender to the demands of the E.U. that makes Neville Chamberlain look like a hard-bitten poker champion. …

Four options are left:

First, Parliament could finally accept May’s deal. If it does so, though, it discredits itself by its abject surrender and futile previous resistance to what it claimed was a bad deal. If it was a bad deal before, then it is a bad deal now.

Second, Britain could leave without a deal. This will undoubtedly cause disruption, but only for a relatively short period.

Third, Britain could hold another referendum. It is by no means certain what the result would be. If the result were the same, it would be back to square one. If the result were different, it would reinforce what is now a European tradition—referenda as confirmatory plebiscites of what the political class wants, exactly as Napoleon III used them.

Finally, the government and Parliament could unilaterally revoke Article 50, which, incidentally, was framed by a British diplomat with the express purpose of making it difficult for any country to leave the Union. This would annul the result of the referendum. It would also have long-term and intangible damaging effects on Britain as a parliamentary democracy.