Let’s tally this up: Theresa May has ruled out several things in the event the vote on her deal does not pass through parliament. She has very recently ruled out trying to go for an EEA arrangement, citing free movement (let’s face it, the ending of which was the only part of Brexit she ever liked or cared about; it was always her one true red line). She has ruled out recalling parliament over Christmas or trying to renegotiate with the EU. She has ruled out a second referendum. She has ruled out parliament cancelling Brexit outright. She has ruled out an extension on Article 50. She has ruled out a no deal.
Now, some of you might say that, yes, she has at different times ruled some of those things out, only to then put them back on the table later, sort of, kind of. Now we’re getting to the heart of the matter. Really, she is trying to rule everything other than her deal out – for now. This is transparently a plot to get MPs to back her deal or face chaos. The problem with this approach is that the threat isn’t remotely credible. If you’ll notice something from the list in the first paragraph, Theresa May has ruled out every conceivable possibility as a Plan B should her deal not pass the House. This is obviously impossible: one of them has to happen.
What this means in practice is that Remainer MPs can feel free to vote down the deal knowing that what will then follow will be whatever there is a majority for in parliament, which is definitely not no deal. It is, as ever, a mystery as to why the Leavers are voting it down given we will then get either a softer Brexit or no Brexit at all, but I’m done psychoanalysing that wing of the Conservative parliamentary party.
This is another reason why May deciding to debate Jeremy Corbyn is so mad: all she’ll be doing is advertising her weakness. Given she has ruled everything else out, her deal has to pass the House or else she has to either resign or back peddle massively. Weirdly, the latter of those choices feels the more likely. We can only hope the current “era of idiots” we are passing through is a brief one.