What happens now, if the Remainers manage to get a “meaningful vote” purporting to rule out a clean break from the EU on 29th of March?
It might go like this:
- Sometime in late March, there is a vote in the House of no confidence in the government. The DUP votes against the government, and perhaps even some Tories. The Labour Party, the SNP and the TIGs all vote against the government. Theresa May loses, and is obliged to call a general election;
- Parliament is prorogued and dissolved pending a general election in April. In the meantime, the default position runs its course: the UK leaves the EU on 29th of March without a deal. Job done for Brexit.
What would be the position going forward?
In the Conservative party, MPs who have been guilty of trying to prevent Brexit will be punished for betraying the result of the 2016 referendum and the 2017 election pledges, and will be deselected. Theresa May will have to resign as party leader, and will be replaced by someone who believes in Brexit. The Conservatives will retain pretty much all the seats they currently hold, and win some more.
In the Labour Party, Momentum will succeed in obtaining the deselection of all their Brexiteer MPs. Most of the deselected MPs will stand as independents, and will retain their seats as such, or split the vote such that the Conservatives win.
The Conservative party, freed from its angst about Brexit, will comfortably win the election and get on with the task of governing a newly independent United Kingdom.
The opposition might well split. The Labour Party itself will have slipped even more firmly into the hands of the far left, happy to remain in permanent opposition with about 15% of the vote.
There will be a new party, perhaps formed around the TIGs, which will continue for many years, probably decades, to bemoan that the country has left the EU. Like the Catholics in the 16th and 17th centuries, they will cause trouble whenever they can, but will never get more than about 30% of the vote.
Nothing very important will happen in relation to the Irish border.
The EU will be hopping mad for a while as the UK promptly gets on with the task of taking its place in the world stage outside the EU. The UK will not join the customs union, and not be part of the single market, but pragmatic trading arrangements will be made so that the Germans can continue to sell their cars and the French can continue to sell their champagne and their cheese into the UK.
There will be some temporary disruption to the UK’s trade with the EU, but it will not be nearly as bad as predicted by project fear. The new government will use at least some of the £37 billion, not to pay the EU, but to give a helping hand to UK businesses affected by that disruption.
Some would say that all this looks pretty good, on the whole.