Boris Johnson has resigned as Foreign Secretary, unable to stand by the “turd” of the Chequers compromise. By leaving it so late he will always be the man who had less guts and gumption than David Davis.
Now speculation centres on the future of Andrea Leadsom and Liam Fox and the suggestion that one after another the “bad boys” – and girls – will quit until Theresa May reveses course.
There is more – much more – at stake here than the political fortunes of Boris Johnson, though. But despite the fantasies of the Labour front bench the issue is not Theresa May’s future or that of her Government: the rebels have the numbers to trigger a vote of no confidence but they simply do not have the numbers to win. The Prime Minister is wounded, but, so far at least, it does not appear to be life threatening.
What’s at stake, though, is something much bigger: the political unity and economic stability of the country. For while May’s exercise in hostage taking last Friday might command majority support in the Conservative Party, it seems unlikely it can command a majority in the Commons. Opposition and Tory Brextremist votes would be enough to sink it.
Labour’s plan – which now differs only from the Tories’ in the language used to describe the customs arrangement – is equally stuffed.
So come the new year the choice seems to be between crashing out with no deal – because Parliament can agree on nothing – or finding some other way of resolving the issue.
It’s hard to under-estimate the catastrophic damage a ‘no deal’ Brexit would represent. Capital flight, car crash devaluation and long-term damage to confidence would be three of the most immediate impacts.
Corbyn’s inner circle say that means there must be a general election – but no Tory is ever going to vote for that.
Nobody wants a “People’s Vote” – another referendum, but this time on the deal – but that may be the only realistic option left.