This evening, the House of Commons will vote on 16 different paths either to or out of Brexit (and which one falls into which category very much depends on your definition of what qualifies as Brexit or not). Rumours swirl that May’s deal will be brought back to the House tomorrow, as well as another, less substantiated one that she has agreed to quit if the deal goes through. I doubt it will go through regardless – I don’t see how she gets Labour votes for it other than from the UKIP end of the party which is about three of them, and then there are just too many members of the Brexit Taliban to overcome. Reaction to Rees-Mogg throwing in the towel and settling for vassalage seems to tell you a lot about where this will probably end up.
I think the reason so many ERG folk feel comfortable voting down the deal is I figure that they know no deal isn’t actually possible, and if every other possible thing the House could grant to May gets voted down tonight and the deal goes down for a third time on Thursday, May has but one option left on April 10th: revoke Article 50. I think the idea here is that this will all be pinned on May and May alone and that they can get back to what they love doing best – complaining about how the elite stitch everything up. They can have very comfortable, long careers railing against the “betrayal”, saying if it hadn’t been for Mrs May having let them down, utopia could have been ours.
I’m not so sure this will work out for them the way they hope. For a start, if Article 50 was revoked, a lot of normal voters might actually be, dare I say it, relieved that the whole nightmare is over. Further, those who will be angry about it all might just figure out that if it hadn’t been for the ERG, we actually would left the EU for real. By pushing things to the point that they have done, many in the ERG have unwittingly left themselves in for the blame if Brexit does not happen. I think Rees-Mogg has figured that one out and jumped ship.
Tonight will tell us a lot. Had it been a secret ballot, as rumoured for a little while earlier this week, then I think the results could have been surprising. As is, it becomes hard to see MPs sticking their necks out in enough numbers to settle on any one solution. I think if the government puts the deal back to the House on Thursday, it will be defeated again. This leaves May to trundle to Brussels and revoke as pretty much the only option – unless they’ll accept a long extension based on a general election taking place, which I suppose is possible.