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The most surprising thing about the Prime Minister’s apparent change of plan on Tuesday is that she’s somehow got away with giving the impression that something has changed.  It hasn’t; her strategy now is exactly the same as it has been for months – to get her deal through by threatening one side that rejection leads to no Brexit and threatening the other side that rejection leads to no deal Brexit.  The date might be about to move by a month or three, but that only postpones the day of reckoning.  Not only has she got the media presenting a continuation of her strategy as some great climb-down, she’s also managed to deter MPs from doing anything which might actually be a real change.
As Ian Dunt has pointed out, the real deadline now relates to the European elections in May – if the UK doesn’t take part in them (and we can be certain that the PM will not legislate for that to happen), then the UK is out of the European Parliament and the Commission from the point at which the new parliament convenes, and effectively ceases to be a member whatever parliament may or may not have decided by then.  The timescale is too short for any meaningful change, and merely allows the PM to continue to pretend that negotiations are in progress when the whole world know that to be untrue.  What on earth leads MPs to trust a PM who daily proves the old adage that ‘you know that a politician is lying when her lips are moving’ is beyond me.  Yes, of course, politicians have always lied in the sense of promising one thing and then doing another, but the current PM has taken the art form to a new level.  The lies are not just about massaging or spinning the truth, they are direct, obvious and provable – and she doesn’t care.  There are some liars who have the confidence to make their lies sound convincing, but she isn’t one of them.  In fact, she can’t even make the truth – on the rare occasions when she is in contact with it – sound convincing.
If there are cabinet members who genuinely believe that the government is following a reckless strategy, then they need to act to ensure a change of leader rather than take up a posture which supports the PM’s stubbornness.  Unless they do so, their apparent ‘disloyalty’ will continue to look more like pretence and complicity.