After two years of chaos and what laughingly passed for a negotiation Theresa May has finally accomplished the impossible, some would say the inevitable: a Brexit deal that pleases no one and probably cannot be implemented anyway.
At least Leavers and Remainers are finally united: neither side likes the deal. Nor do the Conservative or Labour parties. Nor do the Scots or the Irish – or, for all anybody cares, the Welsh. Business and markets are at one in their confusion.
What the Europeans think is anybody’s guess. They seem more bemused than anything else, although some no doubt lament Britain’s self-imposed predicament while others revel in it. Britons can only weep. Some do so over the details of the deal itself, others that the country was stupid enough to bring about this dismal state of affairs in the first place.
The proposals may have been approved by two-thirds of Mrs May’s cabinet but they seem unlikely to pass muster in parliament. What happens if that body rejects it is likewise anyone’s guess. A vote of no confidence would be mine. That would almost certainly mean Mrs May’s resignation.
But then what? A new Tory leader would be elected, of course, but none of the presumed candidates in waiting would be in a position to unite the country, having achieved office only by contributing to its disunity. There would then follow, I suppose, a general election. Either that, or, as some advocate, a second referendum, although that seems unlikely, even if a majority of voters favoured it, since merely framing it would ignite further controversies and divisions.
What a rancid stew this island nation has cooked for itself – and the stench will linger in the kitchen for years to come.
The only sensible solution is to take a deep breath, or a long holiday, and start again from scratch. Meanwhile, the status quo would be observed. Britain would stay in the European Union on current terms and resume negotiations only if or when a new government had been elected with a clear mandate – if such a thing is still possible.
What about the Will of the People? Well, balls to all that nonsense. It was the Will of the People that got us into this mess and the Will of the People, now nullified by ignorance and bewilderment, is incapable of getting us out of it. At least until someone rises to the top, like Churchill in 1940, to explain in clear and pitilessly honest terms what ought to happen next and what the consequences would be. The flaw in that premise is that, as far as anyone can see, there is no brooding presence to emulate that gentleman and his blood, toil, tears and sweat.
Normally, a change of governing party would be in order, and such an event cannot be ruled out. Sadly, Jeremy Corbyn and his shady sidekicks, on the evidence of their inability to refute charges of anti-Semitism – among other issues – would be incapable of introducing clarity, resolve or competence.
Back, then, to Square One, which is for Britain to do nothing until it sorts out who or what is running the place and has a clear mandate to do so.