(Three-minute read)

March 29 was supposed to be Brexit Day. Oops. Now it will be April 12, or May 22, or sometime in December, or perhaps in 2020 or—increasingly plausible if not yet entirely likely—never.

England is now the Land of False Hope and Former Glory.

You wanted in, but wanted to keep your own money; you paid less rent, but wanted to stay “special.” Fine.Résultat de recherche d'images pour "pictures of brexit cartoon"

Unions are all about compromise, and we wanted things to work with you but now we both have Brexit purgatory.

Without Britain, the EU “project” is ever more a matter for pessimism.


A lot.

May’s humiliating retreat from Brexit will send a troubling message to populist parties across Europe. Just as the Brexit referendum initially fueled populist rhetoric in France, Italy, and Germany about breaking up the euro or weakening EU institutions, Brexit’s embarrassing setbacks are likely to have the opposite effect. After all, if Europe’s best-performing economy, most stable democracy, and the strongest military power cannot cope with leaving the EU, what hope can there be for similar initiatives in France or Italy?

What is needed for both the EU and England is a long extension to allow both the European elections with a general election in England.

How this extension comes about – whether because of a new prime minister or a general election or a second referendum or a vote in Parliament to erase all of May’s “red lines” which prevented her negotiating a Norwegian-style associate membership of the EU – is impossible to predict.

It is also not very important to allow the election of a new European Commission without the contamination of Brexit if any future Trade deal is to be negotiated.

Because once the promise of unfettered national sovereignty combined with integration in the global economy is revealed as a delusion, the most likely scenario will become an endless sequence of “temporary” transition arrangements which will solve nothing.

Because British voters probably will realize that any such semi-detached arrangement, far from enabling the UK painlessly to “take back control,” would involve high economic costs and a reduction in national sovereignty.

Because as this understanding sinks in, the Brexiteer ardour will dissipate, politicians seeking re-election will be forced to focus again on the domestic issues of economic, social, and regional policy that largely motivated the 2016 referendum protest – and one way or another Britain will decide to remain in the EU.

Because the reality is that political conditions are sure to stabilize once the period for renegotiating the UK-EU relationship is extended again from the new, very soft, April 12 deadline until the end of the year or beyond.

Because it would then become an important but subsidiary issue for the country to agree on a credible mechanism for setting aside a referendum that decided to make two plus two equal five.

But what has this to do with Brexit?

Because the blame game will extend far beyond Westminster and the list of suspects will be long.

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