Brexit will be delayed – and MPs now have six more months to tell us what they don’t want

The message that MPs will take, rightly or wrongly, is that they can continue to defer the decision. 

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The United Kingdom will remain a member of the European Union until at least 31 October, after an accord was reached by the other 27 member states to accept Theresa May’s request for more time.

But it’s not clear what the British Parliament will do with the time. The central difficulty is that Conservative MPs don’t want any of the following: a Brexit soft enough to secure a majority in this parliament; a second referendum that could lead to Brexit being undone; or Brexit on the terms negotiated by Theresa May – and there is no majority to be found in Parliament for a no deal Brexit.

But Tory MPs also don’t want the one thing that could, potentially at least, end the deadlock between the governing party and Parliament: a general election.

Without the fear that they must chose an option in order to avoid the cliff-edge, it is difficult to see what will force MPs to pick which one of the options they dislike least. As it stands, the UK will still be a member of the EU on 31 October, more than three years after the country voted to leave. Absent another election or a referendum, it may well still be an EU member four years after, too.  

Stephen Bush is political editor of the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.