The chances of a lengthy delay to Brexit have just increased substantially. The withdrawal agreement has been defeated by 58 votes, which means that there’s little point in the government bringing it back next week even if it could find a procedural way to do so. The 34 Tory rebels means that even if some way could be found to reassure the DUP, the government still wouldn’t have the numbers to win.
Parliament’s actions mean that this country’s immediate future is now in the hands of the EU. There’ll be a special EU Council on the 10 of April to decide whether or not to grant the UK a further extension. I still think it is unlikely that the EU will force a no-deal exit on the UK, but it will insist on this country taking part in the European Parliament elections if we are going to remain in the EU beyond April 12th.
One consequence of a lengthy extension is likely to be a general election. After the result was announced, Theresa May declared that ‘we are reaching the limits of this process in this House’, which is her clearest indication yet that she is thinking about a general election. While both Jeremy Corbyn and the SNP called for an election. But an election raises almost as many questions as it might answer. Who, for instance, would lead the Tories into that election and what would Labour’s policy on Brexit be? The one thing that is for certain, is that uncertainty will continue to define our country’s politics.