David Davis, speaking on the Today programme this morning, said this:
“I would make one warning to the cabinet this morning. Don’t be sure every Conservative MP would vote for you if it was made a confidence vote. One or two have said already, I think there are probably twenty who would say [Brexit] is so important, it’s the future of the country, it’s our destiny at stake, it’s more important than the Tory party.”
This followed another evening of indicative votes in the House of Commons in which no option got a majority. As far as I see it the possibilities are starting to narrow from here.
One is that another round of indicative votes produces a majority around something, which I think would have to be a combination of Common Market 2.0 and an indicative referendum. The two are not mutually exclusive, as many have pointed out, given one is a destination and one is merely process. However, my hopes on this are not high.
Another is that May finally sees that a referendum is the only way to save her deal and opts for it. If handled correctly, this gets her out of every jam other than trying to keep her party in one piece. Given what’s happened already, keeping her party together is mostly impossible anyhow – but she won’t see it that way. Combine that with her inability to think laterally at all and this option becomes unlikely.
That leaves us with two possibilities, both of them terrifying. One is that May has to go to the April 10th meeting with the EU Council with either revoke A50 or no deal being the outcome if she can’t beg the Council for mercy to let her have a long extension. Again, they might grant her this, but I wouldn’t count on it. I have no idea what May would do in this situation. I have always said she sees no deal as a disaster, and I still believe that’s true. However, in order to avoid it, she has to make a decision, which she is very, very bad at doing.
What might happen if this nuclear option is taken is for a government of national unity to arise. And to be clear, what I mean by this is that enough members of the Labour and the Conservative parties immediately leave their respective whips and unite to save the country from no deal. This seems incredibly unlikely when you try and think about the level of co-ordination and guts this would take to see through. Yet given the circumstances, who knows. The ERG and Labour front bench will bet against this possibility; history would prove them correct or not.
To stress, the most likely thing to happen from here is May goes to the EU Council on the 10th asking for a long extension with nothing to offer, hopes for pity and then they help her co-ordinate something that is solid enough to convince them it’s better than no deal. We take part in EU elections, the Tories get a new leader and the nightmare continues. But the atmosphere has become febrile enough around the Palace to think perhaps we’re in for something more revolutionary than that now.