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Winter Is Coming to the UK

With the deadline for a Brexit deal fast approaching, British Prime Minister Theresa May not only has run out of cards to play, but was never playing from a full deck to begin with. That is because the force behind Brexit is a notion of sovereignty that is better suited to "Game of Thrones."

PRINCETON – The United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union is rapidly unraveling. The “Chequers plan” upon which British Prime Minister Theresa May has based her negotiating strategy is dead on arrival. It has been rejected not just by the EU and the opposition Labour Party, but also by enough Conservative MPs to ensure that it would fail a parliamentary vote.

Accordingly, the May government’s only option has been to delay and hope that something turns up (also known as kicking the can down the road). But while the current impasse could simply mean that May’s negotiating strategy was flawed, it also could mean that the underlying logic of Brexit is incoherent.

For its part, the Chequers plan relies on a series of uneasy compromises. The UK would maintain a customs relationship with the EU, but it would not be in the EU customs union. Instead, both UK and EU courts would enforce a common “rulebook,” and the UK would be able to diverge from EU trade rules when making agreements with third parties.

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