to end a bad soap opera

Editorial. In three and a half years, the debate in the United Kingdom has escalated to the point of feeding antiparliamentarianism. It is urgent now to admit the reality of Brexit.

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Editorial of the "World". Pirouettes, flip-flops and Trafalgar shots. In three and a half years, Brexit has given rise to innumerable twists, to the extent that the divorce between the United Kingdom and the European Union oscillates between vaudeville and psychodrama. The "Super Saturday" programmed by Boris Johnson, Saturday, October 19, was to mark the end of this interminable and lamentable soap opera. The urgent parliamentary debate, a Saturday for the first time since the Falklands War in 1982, less than forty-eight hours after the publication of the new separation agreement, was to allow the prime minister to implement the born of a snatch negotiation with the European Union (EU).

Las, 322 deputies (against 306) showered the hopes of Mr. Johnson by adopting the amendment Letwin, which suspends the parliamentary vote on the agreement, until the law intended to transpose it in the British law was approved. In doing so, by the Benn Act, also imposed on Mr Johnson by Westminster, they forced the Prime Minister to seek a postponement of the EU deadline of Brexit set for 31 October, a deadline that he swore not to exceed. To emphasize his disagreement, he sent to Brussels a dry request for an unsigned report, accompanied by an initialed and amiable letter denouncing his refusal of the same postponement which, according to him, "Hurt" both in the United Kingdom and in Europe.

At ten days of the fateful deadline, the British political landscape has reached a peak of confusion, which marks a new and disturbing degree in the degradation of the oldest democracy in the world. The Prime Minister officially contradicts Parliament, which, for its part, confirms its inability to get out of the political conflict that paralyzes the country.

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Surreal situation

Saturday's snub was largely the result of Johnson's spectacular concessions to Northern Ireland. The customs border he has accepted with the rest of the United Kingdom goes badly. The rebuff of the deputies is also explained by their mistrust of a prime minister who, by watering the promises made by Theresa May of an alignment with the European rules, compromises the chances of conclusion of a future agreement of free trade with the EU.

This surreal situation places the EU in a position of arbitrator of a British quarrel. If Europe – like Emmanuel Macron – reluctant to grant a Brexit postponement, it reinforces the threat of a "no deal" and helps Boris Johnson to adopt the agreement. If the Twenty-Seven suggest on the contrary that they will yield, they give pledges to the opposition. Cautiously, Brussels should not take a stand before the next steps in the House of Commons: Monday, Mr. Johnson had to try to get a vote on the agreement, then Tuesday on the law of application.

Just after the 2016 referendum, the outcome of which was tight, it was tempting for the pro-Europeans to wish the British to change their minds. But in three years, the Labor opposition has not even really tried to turn things around. The debate has escalated to the point of focusing on a confrontation between the deputies and the "people" that Boris Johnson exploits and that nurtures antiparliamentarianism. That is why it is urgent to finish with this bad soap opera and to admit the reality of Brexit. Especially since, even if Westminster finally ratifies the agreement, the bumpy road of divorce will be long: the future of relations between London and the Twenty-Seven remains to be written.

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