EVEN by the standards of the deadlock and divisions over Brexit at Westminster so far, the week ahead is likely to prove especially torrid for Theresa May and the Government.
The Prime Minister is caught in a dilemma from which there is no clear way out. Last Friday’s rejection by the Commons of the deal on which Mrs May has staked everything for a third time leaves her looking both isolated and without a clear strategy for the way ahead.
Today will see a further series of indicative votes that may, or may not, produce a cross-party consensus that the Commons can back, though its failure to do so last week does not bode well.
And even if a position can be agreed that could command support from all sides, Mrs May has already insisted she will not be bound by it. Whatever reason she might give for such a stance, the reality is that moving towards a position that locks Britain into permanent membership of the EU customs union or single market risks a yet more catastrophic split in the Conservative Party.
Danger stalks the Government at every turn. Yesterday’s polling suggesting a five-point lead for Labour might mean that if a snap general election is called, the Tories could lose power or Parliament end up hung.
And even if the Tories were willing to risk an election, Mrs May could not conceivably lead the party into it, resulting in an unseemly scramble to find a new – and inevitably untested – leader.
This week could prove pivotal for the Government’s fortunes, and also for Mrs May. Both are caught between a rock and hard place, but the politics are only part of this dilemma. Britain is stuck too, wondering how on Earth this will all end, and at what cost.