The Prime Minister’s options post-Christmas and the New Year are as follows
- Resign. Very unlikely indeed. She has a dogged sense of duty – and our reading is that in her view this equals staying on in post if at all possible.
- Seek a general election. Also very unlikely, if only because a majority of Conservative MPs are completely against it.
- Pivot to Norway Plus. Possible. But it would split her Party and looks unlikely to make it through the Commons in any event. In any event, she is resistant to it.
- Pivot to a second referendum. Possible. On the one hand, there seems to be a Commons drift towards it – though no majority for it. On the other, it would split her Party deeper. And again, she is resistant to it.
- Prepare properly for No Deal. Possible. And it is the policy and legislative default setting. But she evidently doesn’t want it and the Commons doesn’t either.
- Wind the clock down, keep presenting her deal with new amendments, and seek to panic the Commons by suggesting: it’s this or the no deal default. “Once you eliminate the impossible…”
As we wrote earlier this week, the most persuasive explanation of all is that the Prime Minister now has no plan at all, and staggers on from day to day, simply looking to survive.
But in so far as she has a strategy, that last option is the most plausible – and is perhaps one that she is stumbling into, at least as much by accident as by design.
She will have to move carefully, balancing the strategic loss of authority inflicted on her by the confidence vote result with the tactical gain of freedom from challenge for a year.
Is she chicken; chickening out on Brexit; or else being drawn into a game of chicken with the Commons over her deal, we asked? We suspect the last. Remember: the real deal deadline is March 28 – not January 21.