So we reach the endgame. This is Charles I losing control of Parliament in 1642. So what does this mean, how will it work and is Theresa May's plan finally dead?
Tomorrow is a historic day in which the government does not have control over what the Commons debates. MPs will put forward motions on potential ways forward on Brexit and vote on them. These will be Norway Plus (single market plus customs union), May's deal plus customs union, no-deal Brexit, revoke and a second referendum.
Oliver Letwin, the Cromwell of this power battle, told MPs yesterday that the first vote would be exploratory, rather than definitive. Seeking a consensus. Next Monday, MPs would vote in a run-off of options. This separation of outcome and process means MPs will almost certainly favour single market and customs union membership which, for business means that the costs and compliance hits foreseen if we leave without a deal recede slightly.
Ironically, this chance at consensus spells bad news for the more radical propositions on both sides of the debate: no-deal, which is unlikely to get any significant support, and maybe also the People's Vote - unless MPs agree any option chosen should be put to the people. Labour's Keir Starmer said "some of these options are not like-for-like options. It would be possible to say that, whatever deal there was at the end of that exercise, it ought to be subject to the lock or safeguard of some sort of confirmation vote."
On the other hand, the act of MPs taking control could even prove an unexpected boost for the government. Today, Jacob Rees-Mogg was saying that he would back the deal if the DUP did, heralding a wave of capitulation towards the deal. May could then hold another meaningful vote, get it passed, and Britain would be out on May 22nd.
But it's unclear if even this shift in support would get her over the line. There is probably a baseline of about 20 ERG MPs who'll refuse to vote for May's deal. The DUP has today said no. There are a similar number of moderate Tories on the other side of the party who won't vote for it either. So to get it passed, the prime minister will need to find Labour votes. They may only come if she agrees to a referendum.
Like Cromwell, Letwin could get a taste for removing control from the Queen's ministers. Once they support a given option he can remove government control over them again, but this time with the intention of passing legislation, rather than just holding votes. With the government refusing to abide by whever option wins through, the problem reaches a head when Parliament tells Theresy May to enact plan B. How can she do so without splitting her party? But with the last ERGers ready to upend the government in a vote of no confidence, May - despite her promise not to - could collapse the Parliament and seek a new general election on May 2nd, an act which begs a lot more questions than it answers.
It took 2 years of Parliamentary mission-creep before Charles I raised his standard at Nottingham. Revolutions don't happen overnight. They are incremental. What is certain is that Theresa May will not preside over the next stage.
Businesses can just watch.
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