Just when you thought Brexit couldn’t get any worse, Brexit got worse.
On Friday, talks between the government and the opposition broke down, plunging the country back into a cloud of Brexit chaos and uncertainty.
Adding to the mess are next week’s pointless EU elections, a Prime Minister who is set to resign within weeks, and the prospect of Boris Johnson — the man who helped put the UK in this position in the first place — taking over as PM.
Brexit has been a cloud hanging over the U.K. for almost three years. Despite the long lead time, Prime Minister Theresa May has been unable to convince her parliament to approve any deal she negotiated with Brussels. The original March 29 deadline for leaving the EU was extended, at the last minute, to the end of October.
But even with more time to resolve the crisis, no one can agree on the best way forward. The negotiations between the Tories and the Labour party came about after May failed on multiple occasions to win the full support of her own party. Now they, too, have failed.
On Friday, opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn announced that cross-party talks “have gone as far as they can,” saying the two sides could not reach agreement on how to leave the EU.
While some lawmakers hoped that the talks would lead to a consensus and an end to the Brexit stalemate, some Tory backbenchers cheered the breakdown in talks, claiming they should have never happened in the first place.
The talks failed just a day after May announced that after the next Brexit vote at the beginning of June, she will set a timetable for her departure as prime minister and leader of the Conservative Party.
The BBC reported Thursday that should that vote fail to pass — as it has three times already — May would resign.
That would trigger a leadership contest, and within hours of May’s announcement, Boris Johnson indicated that he would throw his hat in the ring.
“I'm going to go for it. Of course I'm going to go for it. I don't think that is any particular secret to anybody. But you know there is no vacancy at present,” Johnson said on Thursday.
Former Foreign Secretary Johnson was one of the most vocal leaders of the Leave campaign, though he subsequently quit May’s cabinet over how Brexit negotiations were handled.
Complicating the situation further is the fact that under EU rules, the U.K. has to take part in European elections next week, despite the fact that the country is planning on leaving the bloc in a matter of months.
“Clearly no one wants to fight the European parliament elections,” Philip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer, said just last month. “It feels like a pointless exercise.”
Cover: Domestic abuse. Prime Minister Theresa May talks with a case worker and domestic violence survivor at Advance Charity offices in West London where she discussed support for victims of domestic violence. Victoria Jones/PA Wire URN:42838155 (Press Association via AP Images)