IT is more than six years since the word ‘Brexit’ first started to regularly appear in The Yorkshire Post. Now another newly-coined phrase – backstop – is appearing with increasing monotony at a time when many were hoping that negotiations between the Government and the European Union could be ended with a full stop.
Yet, after another tumultuous week, it now appears that Theresa May simply can’t win. On the issue of Northern Ireland’s border, the EU wants a backstop to a backstop while the mere suggestion that the transition period could be extended by a matter of months has been met with fury by Brexiteers whose mistrust of the Prime Minister is plain.
All this leaves Mrs May trying to turn her political weakness into a strength by playing for time in the hope that any last-minute deal reached with the EU on the withdrawal agreement convinces sufficient MPs from all parties to back any such course of action over a hard Brexit.
Even this appears to be an increasingly forlorn hope judging by the tone of the questions that MPs posed to Mrs May on two separate occasions this week. There were so many splits that it was hard not to conclude that the country is even more divided now than it was in 2016 when the UK voted to leave the EU.
And unless another word previously associated with political leadership – compromise – comes to the fore, both here and in the EU’s corridors of power, Mrs May faces the prospect of every scenario being voted down on the floor of the Commons and, in doing so, forcing an unprecedented constitutional crisis. And, if this happens, there will be no backstop.