, 16 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
With so much Brexit-related doom and gloom around, I thought it might be fun to change things up.

Let’s play a game.

It’s called “pick your crisis” and, I promise, it’ll be great fun.

In one corner we have the gallant Prime Minister.

Her supporters, the five-minutes-to-midnighters, are waving banners: “Run Down the Clock!”

They are waiting and waiting until the last possible moment to hold the "meaningful vote"
In the other corner we have a motley crew: Nick Boles, Yvette Cooper and Dominic Grieve.

They have a banner too, a rather long one: “Let Parliament take control, please, for a short period, for limited purposes”.

Their goal is to prevent the PM from running down the clock.
The PM’s strategy is, indeed, to run down the clock.

She is currently engaged in destined-to-be-fruitless negotiations with the EU and the Opposition.

In March, she will say (again...): “My deal, no deal or no Brexit”.

And, she seems to think, the later the better
This strategy is likely to provoke a serious crisis.

First, the real deadline in the Brexit process is March 21. That’s the next meeting of the European Council.
Second, the U.K. can’t ratify the withdrawal agreement without

a. the famous meaningful vote *and*

b. the most important legislation you’ve never heard of: the Withdrawal Agreement Bill

There is *no chance* that the U.K. will have met these two conditions for ratification by March 21.

The only thing the U.K. can possibly ask for on March 21 is “more time” to finish the Article 50 process.

And it will have to ask for an extension on March 21.
Remember, an extension has to be agreed *unanimously* by the remaining EU member states.

*Any* of them can ask for *anything* in exchange for their agreement.

Say (and I'm just speculating wildly here), Spain or Ireland.
I suppose the UK could ask for an extension after the March 21 EUCO.

I also suppose the EU could agree to hold an emergency EUCO.

And the member states could helpfully mull over using their vetoes, possibly publicly, to extract UK concessions.
In that scenario, what do you think would happen?

With a No Deal Brexit perfectly plausible, and just days away, people would stockpile food, medicine, £££s and petrol.

It would be a genuine crisis.

It is where the UK is currently headed.
What about Boles, Cooper and Grieve?

They want to wrestle control of the parliamentary agenda from the government.

This would upend centuries of tradition, substituting backbench MPs for Her Majesty’s ministers as key decision-makers.
It is fair to say that this would set a dangerous precedent for the future. Quite how it might be misused is difficult to foresee.

But with the Fixed-term Parliaments Act capable of sustaining an ailing govt in power, the scope for its exploitation has been greatly increased.
If and when backbenchers wrest control of the parliamentary agenda, they would then seek to direct the government to act in a particular way, either by asking for an Article 50 extension or requiring outright revocation.
For centuries, however, ministers have negotiated international treaties – accountable to Parliament all along – but with their hands on the tiller and their necks on the line.

Inverting these clear lines of accountability would, again, set a potentially dangerous precedent.
Indeed, the Brexit process has already fiddled with clear lines of accountability in the Westminster tradition.

It is fair to say it has not worked out very well.

So, folks, pick your crisis.

1. The UK teetering on a precipice in late March, at the mercy of European leaders.

2. The upending of parliamentary executive relations.

You have until February 27 to choose.

Choose wisely.

(Told you it would be fun)

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