It was meant to be a week when the terms of Britain’s divorce with the European Union were signed and sealed, but, as has become a trademark in Brexit negotiations, things went wrong.
Likened to an action-movie hero ahead of Britain’s latest bout of brinkmanship, Prime Minister Theresa May went to war with fellow lawmakers who refused to eat a perfectly good bowl of porridge that a bunch of chefs in Europe had rustled up for them. All the while, a once great country looked as aimless as a rudderless boat at sea.
This is what British politics, according to a senior Conservative member of parliament, had become on the eve of Brexit.
“Bruce Willis is absolutely down and he’s out with a guy whose brother he killed. And then you think he’s dead and suddenly at the last minute he rises up and slaves his tormentor,” said Charles Walker, a British MP from Broxbourne, who admires May. ”That is Theresa May.”
Unfortunately for May, Brexit isn’t Die Hard. And so her deal, which had already suffered a defeat of historic proportions when it was first brought before the house in January, failed again this week.
The failure was yet another blow to May’s leadership and came even after she had gone back to Brussels to ask for changes — specifically around the so-called Irish backstop, the aim of which is to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland if future trade negotiations break down. In fact, not even a last minute promise to speak with the EU’s own Brexit negotiators could save the deal from another resounding defeat in parliament.
But May, channelling her inner Willis, wont’ give up. She’s decided that before she abandons a deal that continues to fail her, she’s going to give it another try. Walker likened it to a bland bowl of porridge: It may not have any added sweetener, but for those who still want Brexit, it may well be the only thing on the menu.
This segment originally aired March 14, 2019, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.