British Prime Minister Theresa May will have to finally bite the bullet this month and bring her proposals on Brexit to her cabinet.
It will be an important and vital meeting. Without cabinet approval for her as yet undisclosed plan, it looks certain we are hurtling down the road to a no deal Brexit and all the catastrophic consequences that entails.
It has been obvious for some time that May has very little option but to go for a soft Brexit landing primarily because the European Union leadership is immovable on no hard border in Ireland.
The only conceivable way around the issue is for the U.K. as a whole to stay in the EU customs union.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar this week supplied a fig leaf for May by signaling his agreement that such a customs arrangement would be acceptable and a review of the backstop provision, ensuring no physical border in Ireland, could be undertaken at regular intervals.
Everyone knows the review is a fig leaf and the deal would never be broken, but it gives May an opportunity to claim victory, no matter how hollow.
Her cabinet knows if they do not back her then they will have to sack her creating further confusion and dismay as the deadline to leave the EU approaches.
She must call their bluff. The Tory right-wingers, like the Tea Party, have had an overwhelming influence on events far beyond their actual strength. They have made it clear they are so hidebound ideologically that they would rather bankrupt Britain than climb down from their high horse.
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Saving face is very important for the former colonial masters of Great Britain. May is unable to get any more leverage from the EU on the Irish backstop and must sell it or lose power.
A new election could lead to a Labor government that is itself deeply divided on Brexit, making any new solution very unlikely.
Of course May’s opponents on the right will insist on total Brexit or nothing, but with stories about ships being needed to bring medical supplies in from Europe and massive disruption to trade and commerce, not to mention British tourists and businesses forced to get visas to go to France or any other EU country, their bluff is finally being called.
As for the Democratic Unionist Party which props May up in power, they have long lost their most important leverage by seeking to lord it over the other countries in the Great Britain orbit by demanding that only their needs be met.
That road leads to no Brexit and a hard border, and May knows it is a path she cannot go down.
So it comes down to May portraying a huge stand down as in some way a victory and getting cabinet approval.
The alternative is so shocking to consider -- widespread economic mayhem, a hard border in the North -- that surely May can convince her colleagues that a soft Brexit is the only way forward.
As for Ireland, the government can no longer delay the decision on the hard or soft border. There is every sign that uncertainty is causing serious damage to political relationships in the North and putting the Belfast Agreement under pressure.
Indeed, the entire European Union experiment is on the line over the next few months. May has one way out and one only.
If the Irish can provide some cover all the better. Any other solution just leads to disaster.
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