On December 11, the UK House of Commons will hold its first vote on British Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal with the European Union. Between rejection, which could topple May's government, and approval, which would put the country on a path toward an indefinite "transition period,” there is no possible outcome that would offer a sense of finality.
In this Big Picture, Chris Patten explains how the negotiating process has left the UK with essentially three choices, including a no-deal Brexit, which no one should seriously countenance. Robert Skidelsky predicts that the threat of such a scenario will lead to a pragmatic compromise that spares the country's economy. But Michael Burleigh notes that even with parliamentary approval, lingering questions about the future of the Irish border will complicate May's plans.
Meanwhile, Harold James reminds us that, like all past revolutions, Brexit has already inaugurated an irreversible new phase in British history – one that will follow its own logic, rather than the wishes of "Leavers" or "Remainers" hoping for another referendum. And Mohamed A. El-Erian points out that behind the messy politics of Brexit are deeper issues that all countries will have to confront sooner or later.