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How Theresa May’s Brexit Deal Collapsed

The Return of the Irish Question

An old sign remains from the days of a hard border in front of a disused customs hut on the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland in Carrickcarnon, Ireland, December 2018. CLodagh Kilcoyne / REUTERS

British Prime Minister Theresa May had hoped that the third time would do the trick. After failing twice to get her withdrawal agreement with the EU through Parliament, she was gearing up for a fresh attempt last week, until she was blocked by the Speaker of the House of Commons and by the European Council. The Speaker declared that the British government could not put substantively the same motion before Parliament twice in the same legislative session. The Council had refused to modify the withdrawal agreement, which made the Speaker’s decision unavoidable, and it later imposed unexpectedly firm terms on May’s request for an extension. She had requested a short extension to conclude by June 30, knowing that her government could not now meet its schedued exit date of March 29.

May’s premiership is now hanging by a thread. Her three-pronged strategy of blackmail, bribery, and betrayal has collapsed.

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