IRRESPECTIVE of the outcome of the latest Parliamentary votes on Brexit, one milestone will be reached next Tuesday – 1,000 days will have passed since Britain voted to leave the European Union.
Yet, despite a change of premier and a general election, MPs still appear to be deadlocked over the terms of Britain’s supposed departure from the European Union on March 29.
Eight weeks after Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement was defeated by 230-votes, the biggest defeat inflicted on a Prime Minister in more than a century, the only unanimity between politicians is a weary acceptance that the Tory leader’s strategy will suffer a similar fate in the Commons tomorrow night.
Responsibility for this state of affairs is not entirely Mrs May’s fault. Parliament then tasked her with seeking concessions from Brussels, most notably over the Northern Irish backstop, and the EU has refused to yield any ground.
Amid renewed speculation about attempts to force Mrs May from office so a fresh start can be made, David Davis, the former Brexit Secretary, did make a profound point when he observed that “you can change the leader but you can’t change the numbers”.
He was referring to the fact that a new Tory leader would still face a hung parliament – Mrs May’s predicament after being rashly persuaded by Mr Davis, and others, to hold a snap election in 2017.
And therein lies the rub. With Mr Davis and the European Research Group unwilling to support the PM, and Labour continuing to oppose the Withdrawal Agreement despite promising to implement Brexit at the last election, what will it take for the competing Parliamentary factions to compromise?
For, unless all sides in the debate start to show the statecraft expected of them, it is not just Britain’s future prospects being put at risk if this impasse continues beyond 1,000 days. So, too, will democracy itself.