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May’s humbling offers a glimmer of hope

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LONDON - It was both a historic vote and decisive defeat for the government. But while it was called a “meaningful vote,” Parliament’s verdict on British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal Tuesday was actually anything but.

Tuesday’s ballot was all about tactics; not one MP thought it would decide anything. As the prime minister noted herself afterward, it makes clear what Parliament doesn’t want, but not what alternative can garner a majority among lawmakers. As such, it has left all factions even more entrenched.

“Remainers” are divided largely between those who want a second referendum and those who support a cross-party deal to keep Britain in the European Union’s customs union permanently or a Norway-style settlement that keeps the United Kingdom in the single market too. The Norway brigade (their preferred Brexit is now called Common Market 2.0) argue that a second referendum would be undemocratic and divisive. But they gloss over the fact that their own option would require allowing the free movement of people from the bloc, one of the things many Brexit voters clearly wanted to end.

For their part, most of those MPs holding out for a second referendum would be horrified at the idea of crashing out of the EU without an agreement. And yet it’s hard to imagine a referendum that........

© The Japan Times