Theresa May has finally made a decision. And it’s not one her hard-Brexit allies will like.
The Prime Minister has recognized what many have been saying for weeks – that there’s no majority for her deal in Parliament.
In offering talks with the opposition Labour Party – and, crucially, offering to accept the result of any vote in Parliament – May has also recognized that she will never be able to persuade her supposed allies in the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party, nor a hard core of Brexiteers in her own Conservative Party.
May has picked a side, and it’s the side of a “soft” Brexit – one that envisages a closer relationship with the EU than she previously could countenance.
For some, that has always felt inevitable. With no majority in the House of Commons and her own party so bitterly divided, it was always a possibility that Theresa May was going to have to reach across the political divide.
It should never be forgotten that this is a Prime Minister who supported Remain in the 2016 referendum. Brexiteers long ago suspected that her commitment to Brexit was more of an act. Even as recently and last week, some close to the PM were trying to brief that she privately favored no deal. But no one who has followed May properly for the last three years bought it.
The political will in the UK is to avoid a no-deal Brexit. The same is true, largely, across Europe.
So this short extension, and a compromise in favor of what will likely be a softer Brexit, bows to the political winds.
But the war it might start in the Conservative Party might be terminal. A soft Brexit *and* an offer to work with the opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, a man many Conservatives believe to be a risk to national security? Theresa May might be on her way out. But what a mess she could leave behind her.