The Remaining options

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The Observer rates the odds on blocking Brexit as follows this morning:

Corbyn-led temporary government

Jeremy Corbyn has offered to lead a temporary government tasked with requesting a delay to Brexit from the EU, before triggering an election.

Likelihood: one in five

Government of national unity

Jo Swinson, the Lib Dem leader, has said Corbyn cannot command enough support to lead a temporary government. She has instead suggested a temporary government of national unity, led by a more neutral figure such as Labour’s Harriet Harman or veteran Tory Ken Clarke.

Likelihood: two in five

New laws blocking no deal

MPs such as Dominic Grieve, Oliver Letwin, Nick Boles and Yvette Cooper have been part of efforts to pass new legislation that orders the prime minister to request a Brexit delay to avoid no deal.

Likelihood: three in five

A Brexit deal is agreed

Some MPs are still holding out hope that Boris Johnson will offer them a vote on a Brexit deal based on the agreement put forward by Theresa May. For it to pass, Labour MPs opposed to a second referendum, such as Lisa Nandy, would have to back it.

Likelihood: two in five

Am I saying they are right? No, I’m not. But I also think their relative rankings may not be far out.

Do I think they have considered all the options? Probably, within the parliamentary arena.

Does this mean that there is only a two in five chance of No Deal departure (the inverse of the new law blocking a deal option)? No, I don’t think so. I think it’s higher than that. The cards are still stacked in favour of the government. That means all the rankings mentioned may be right, but they could be out of seven, maybe. That then leaves No Deal the most likely option.

And is it the case that we are looking at a scenario where all the action takes place in parliament? That, to me, seems the most interesting question.

These options still assume no international pressure is brought to bear on the UK.

It also assumes no succvessful legal challenges to what Johnson might propose.

And it assumes no extra-parliamentary action, which still seems to be possible to me: the cold light of reality has still, I think, to dawn on people regarding just how chaotic this might all be, with serious consequences for the country which suggest civil disruption arising either before, or after, 31 October and with deeply unpredictable consequences.

So, what would I wish for? I have indicated I think Corbyn was right to try to suggest he should lead an alternative government. As Leader of the Opposition that was an appropriate claim to make. I am glad he tried.

I suspect his attempt has failed. In a day or two that will be obvious. And it will become equally clear that sticking to it will be obdurate in the face of a forthcoming national calamity. The right move can become the wrong move in that case.

So we now need a week to forget the last week and all the rival claims. But that week should be spent talking about parliamentary tactics.

The job now is to, firstly, block Brexit.

Second, there then needs to be agreement between all parties opposed to Brexit to support a vote of no confidence to force an election  because there is no chance of agreement on an alternative government or second referendum, I would suggest.

Third, parties need to be prepared for this. I think most are. I am still not sure Labour is, at all.

Fourth, this does require some serious consideration about anti-No Deal cooperation. I wish I thought this likely. I am not convinced I am.

Don’t rule out all of this still leading to No Deal, and maybe no way back.

But one has to hope.