Brexit's Now, at Best, a Dream Deferred

(Bloomberg) --

Did the Brexiteers just kill Brexit?

After last night’s defeat of Prime Minister Theresa May’s latest proposal to leave the European Union, Parliament will now throw a safety net under the whole perilous process.

Lawmakers are poised to tell her today to walk away from the cliff’s edge by taking the threat of an exit without an agreement off the table. They’ll then call for May to push the divorce deadline back. Cross out the Brexit countdown trackers — the U.K. is no longer departing in 16 days.

That’s good news for consumers stockpiling canned food and for skittish markets, which now see growing odds of a softer exit with most ties to the bloc kept intact. We could even see the second referendum that for months has seemed little more than the desperate last hope of grieving europhiles.

But for the politicians who have spent their careers fighting for a clean break from the EU, it’s looking like the end of a dream.

May, whose tenacity has become the hallmark of her leadership, still seems to think her compromise has a chance. She’s going to force the Brexiteers to contemplate the prospect of losing their ultimate wish-list item and then give them one last chance to back her real-world version of it.

And if they still say no, it’s because they’d rather be right than win.

Brexit's Now, at Best, a Dream Deferred

Global Headlines

Flying in isolation | The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is vouching for the safety of Boeing's 737 Max, making it the outlier as the list of countries blocking the aircraft mounts. That's creating a new hierarchy in aviation safety: As a regulator, China is on its way to attaining the level of authority enjoyed by the FAA and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, giving it global recognition for its ability to determine when a plane is safe to fly.

Brexit's Now, at Best, a Dream Deferred

Finding their voice | Senate Republicans are increasingly willing to challenge President Donald Trump on foreign policy by backing legislation that contradicts him publicly after failing to sway him privately, Daniel Flatley reports. Some are indicating they may defy the White House by pushing a measure to block U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. Others support additional sanctions on Russia or punishment for Saudi Arabia over the killing of columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Identity crisis | Benjamin Netanyahu has been whipping up his right-wing base ahead of a closely fought election on April 9. In his most incendiary comments yet, the prime minister made it clear to the country's 1.9 million Arabs that being Israeli means being a Jew. Caroline Alexander and Amy Teibel spoke with voters in Arab villages and towns about the ballot and Netanyahu’s stance — which is refocusing attention on the debate over Israel’s character.

Prosperity? No thanks | Trump has dangled the possibility of untold riches to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un if he gives up his nuclear weapons and embarks on an economic opening similar to Asian tigers like Singapore and Vietnam. But such a move comes with great risks for Kim, who may find his iron grip on the impoverished country weakened by global capital and market forces that are beyond the young leader's control.

Energy shortage | Scant crowds attended protests yesterday in Caracas as power cuts force residents to scour the Venezuelan capital for life's basic necessities and fatigue sets in among opponents to President Nicolas Maduro. The great blackout has derailed water service, stalled refineries, and deepened the divide between rich and poor — while the wealthy pack steakhouses with generators, many of the rest must put their kids to bed by candlelight.

What to Watch

  • Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort faces his second federal sentencing hearing in less than a week — this time before a judge who’s already thrown him in jail for attempting to tamper with witnesses and chastised him for breaching his cooperation agreement with Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
  • Saudi women’s rights activists are set to go on trial today in Riyadh on charges of undermining social peace and state security following their campaigns for liberties such as the right to drive and an end to a guardianship system that renders women the legal dependents of a male relative.
  • French President Emmanuel Macron is on the second day of his visit to the Horn of Africa and Kenya where he’s signalling his resistance to the global reach of China and discussing his nation’s growing role in battling Islamist militants on the continent.

And finally...It was the “Great Escape” that spawned a Hollywood movie — the mass getaway of Commonwealth prisoners from a German camp in World War Two. And now one of the last veterans of the real-life endeavor has died at the age of 101. BBC News reports that former British Air Force navigator Jack Lyon was a lookout for the breakout bid in 1944, but the tunnel was discovered before he could use it. In the end, 73 of the 76 who escaped were recaptured, with 50 executed on the orders of Adolf Hitler.

Brexit's Now, at Best, a Dream Deferred

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