That the impasse over this country’s departure from the European Union appears no closer to being resolved, despite 11th hour attempts, should ring alarm bells for the Prime Minister and her request for an extension to this Friday’s looming Brexit deadline.
Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, may have said that the ball is in the Government’s court, but the decision over the way forward is not in Westminster’s hands alone. At a crunch summit on Wednesday, it is EU leaders who will take a call on the extension to the Article 50 negotiating period requested by Theresa May in a bid to avoid a no-deal departure – and they will expect to hear what her plan is should it be granted.
Though the ticking clock appears to have focused minds, with long-overdue talks between the Government and the Labour Party finally taking place last week, politicians remain locked in disagreement.
What happens next is far from certain and, nearly three years after the referendum result, the country appears no closer to agreeing a deal. Time is clearly of the essence, reflected in the speed at which Yvette Cooper’s bill to try and legislate against a no-deal scenario has proceeded through both chambers of Parliament. However, it is not the only pressure Mrs May is facing.
Only yesterday, Tory peer Lord Robert Hayward said her party could expect a ‘Brexit dividend’ in the forthcoming local elections if a deal is agreed before voters go to the polls next month, and claimed “a large number of people” wanted Brexit negotiations “over with”.
It has never been more crucial for all sides to work together to agree a way forward. For there is little use in securing an extension on Wednesday if all it achieves is kicking the can further down the road and failing to bring about the certainty that businesses and the electorate so desperately want.