At midnight last night Brexit was given a stay of execution until Halloween – just hours before Britain’s second departure date was due on April 12. Peter Wilding, FBC Manby Bowdler’s Brexit Director, takes a look at what it means for the Midlands business community.
Just hours before Britain's second departure date was due on April 12, the grim jury of 27 European member states took pity on the condemned and gave May 203 extra days on death row.
The question is what will happen now? Is the Midlands business community doomed to wait for Godot? For a Brexit that is anticipated but might never come?
Amazingly, the first thing that will happen is that MPs will vote for the extension today and then promptly vanish for a two week Easter break.
Signs of Brexit life will only be glimpsed in the desultory, bottom-sniffing talks droning on between the Tory and Labour leaderships in their quest for a cross-party agreement.
This will not occur. Not least because the Government cannot accept a customs union or single market solution and survive.
Nor can Labour endorse the Brexit of a party in deep electoral trouble and a Government they want to topple.
So will the Prime Minister just carry on banging her head against the brick wall of Parliament in the hope, sometime before October, of getting a majority of one for her benighted Withdrawal Agreement?
That is certainly her style. And also her predicament. For nearly three years political inflexibility and party loyalty have been her modus operandi.
But doing everything possible to prevent her party splitting has denied her the flexibility for creative, cross-party alliance-building. What is more it has failed. Now her party will not follow her just as the opposition will not save her.
Which means that another political crisis is set to explode, the result of which is more likely than not to lead to a general election in October or another referendum later in the year.
The thing is you must never lose sight of the three political heart-attack events underpinning the Brexit endgame and the effect it will have on the people May hopes will drag her deal over the line.
The first will be the May 2 local election. The Conservatives, defending the 5,500 seats won on the day of their victorious 2015 General Election, will be slaughtered.
Expect the government to lose up to 2,000 of the councillors who are not only fervent Brexiters but keep their withering party going.
The second with be the zombie European elections just three weeks later at which the Conservatives themselves expect to lose half of their current MEPs.
These political bloodbaths will trigger a furious nervous breakdown in a governing party which has no money, no direction and no loyalty.
Rampaging ex-councillors will demand the Prime Minister's head. Though May normally just ploughs on regardless, the Halloween deadline mortally wounds her. As one MP told me, "After this, what is May actually for?".
Follow the leader?
Which is why following the recent battles over the backstop and the extension, the next - and third event - is the leadership.
Already MPs circle Westminster, running books on the favourites and seeking favours over coffee from them.
To date, the money is on the former Brexit Secretary, Dominic Raab pitching for Tory members' votes against who? Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
With May told to fall on her sword, here comes the final battle for the Tory soul. The hope is to get all this over by the party conference.
If Raab wins having thrown red meat to the crowds quite uneatable to the modernising band around Hancock, then expect deselections and defections.
If the Tory tribe cannot unite around one candidate to lead a government which by then cannot command a majority then expect a vote of no confidence.
Tory summer blood-letting will have got them no further in squaring the Brexit circle. They will be prey to the final coup de grace, prompting an October general election.
But, but, but...
And yet, in the unlikely event that wider heads prevail can some deal be done to avoid all this and just get that damned Withdrawal Agreement through?
The problem is not with the text of the divorce itself but the fear of what a Raab would do to the non-binding words of the political declaration attached to it should he cling to power.
As no parliament can bind its successor, I can only see opposition parties voting for the deal contingent on a new referendum.
Otherwise, by 2022 the Britain they want to govern might have already signed up to a future trade deal which paves the way for the economic and social upheaval still the stuff of Rees-Mogg's dreams.
So, in the words of Ronald Reagan my bet is that "you ain't seen nothing yet." And that the chances of October passing without a Brexit are high. Between now and then anxious businesses and fed up families can only expect a Halloween endgame of tricks without treats.
Peter Wilding, our Brexit Director, is able to provide in-depth analysis on the political, policy and legal implications of Brexit, and translate what they mean for manufacturing, agricultural and hospitality clients. If you would like to discuss any issues with Peter, please call him on 07901 008220 or email email@example.com.