The participation of MPs in a series of indicative votes today in an attempt to break the Westminster impasse and find a way forward on Brexit may be belated but is still welcome.
Back in January, The Yorkshire Post called for such a step to be taken as a way of finding a consensus in the wake of the Prime Minsiter’s Withdrawal Agreement being rejected by a record number of MPs. This newspaper warned at the time that a wait in doing so would result in the possibility of the UK’s departure being delayed and raise anxieties amongst the country’s 17.4m Leave supporters that their vote was being betrayed. That was exactly the scenario that had come to pass prior to Monday night’s successful cross-party takeover of the Parliamentary takeover from the Government in yet another blow to Theresa May’s authority.
The belated arrival of the indicative votes process will at last mean MPs must show what they are for rather than just what they are against, as has been the case so far.
It may yet turn out that going through the process will actually show the Commons that Mrs May’s much-derided deal is actually the most feasible or, at a minimum, least worst option now open to them. Indeed, that shift seems to be taking place to some degree already with arch-Eurosceptic Jacob Rees-Mogg, one of the most vehement critics of the Withdrawal Agreement, now indicating he may now back it as the ultimate choice appears to narrow to being one between the Prime Minister’s deal or no Brexit at all.
However, the Democratic Unionist Party, which holds the balance of power, remains ardently opposed to the Withdrawal Agreement – to the extent of suggesting a one-year extension to Article 50 would be preferable to Mrs May’s deal.
The way forward on Brexit remains clouded. But there may now be a path to finding a solution.