We are running out of options.
As the spectre of No Deal Brexit looms large after the latest parliamentary defeat, the question remains —what comes next?
Tory leadership hopefuls are offering a lot of blustering rhetoric but are coming up short of any actual solutions.
Whether it’s ominous No Deal preparations or ambitions to alter the agreement the EU said they wouldn’t renegotiate, a successful deal is looking less likely by the day.
And of course there are those that outright embrace No Deal, as a preferred outcome or just political collateral damage.
With Brexit architect and naked opportunist Boris Johnson looking like he has the leadership in the bag, all eyes are on parliament to prevent us from going over a cliff’s edge.
But as the latest attempt to prevent No Deal showed, parliament remains consistent in its inability to produce a majority for anything.
What parliament can do
The narrow defeat for keeping No Deal off the table does not definitively mean that a parliamentary majority against the most catastrophic outcome doesn’t exist.
The October 31st deadline may seem distant enough to MPs that they feel like they can afford indecision, to appease either constituents or the party.
When it comes down to the wire, MPs may well finally act to prevent no one but the most devoted of Brexit ideologues view as anything but an unprecedented crisis.
But that all relies on the assumption that they would have another opportunity to have their say before the deadline, a gamble in itself.
With the slim but not inconceivable possibility of a Brexit purist PM suspending parliament to push through no deal and usher the latest constitutional crisis, that decision might be out of MPs’ hands.
The most obvious solution is to bring the government down.
This has been Labour’s position since the beginning of the Brexit negotiations, which is one of the reasons the arithmetic for a no-confidence vote does not currently exist.
Right now there are not enough MPs within the Conservative Party, and indeed some within the Labour Party, for whom the fear of No Deal outweighs the distaste of a Jeremy Corbyn government.
In order to exercise their parliamentary sovereignty, MPs against No Deal must get past their tribalism.
Lib Dem MP Ed Davey and Best for Britain supporter said: “This isn’t America – we don’t do shutdowns just because one side hasn’t got what they wanted.
“Internationalist MPs right across the House now need to work together to fight these deeply anti-democratic attempts to force through no deal Brexit against Parliament and the country’s wishes.”
The problem with Labour
When it comes to Brexit, Labour’s Sphinx-like position has done it no favours, as demonstrated by the EU election results.
With eight MPs voting with the government on Wednesday’s vote and 13 more abstaining, Labour must decide if it’s as dedicated to stopping the existential threat of No Deal as the Tories are to Brexit.
Had those MPs voted with the party whip, the numbers would have been there for No Deal to be blocked.
With the majority of Labour voters wanting to remain in the European Union, MPs facilitating the prospect of No Deal goes against the party’s manifesto.
The latest vote means that the issue of deselection has been raised once again.
Another Europe is Possible spokesperson Alena Ivanova said: “Yesterday’s defeat isn’t the end of the road for stopping No Deal, but it did shine a light on some appallingly cowardly behaviour of some Labour MPs.
“This isn’t even about party discipline or the whip, it’s about having even a basic sense of loyalty to the working class people you represent.
“Any MP that fails to vote against No Deal, or against a Tory deal, cannot be allowed to represent Labour at the next election and should face deselection.”
“This still does not address the immediate problem of how to stop No Deal.
Would Conservative Remainers have the guts to risk their seats, bringing down the government and triggering a General Election?
As ever with Brexit, it’s impossible to say with certainty.
Leaving us back at square one.
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