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Brexit’s Taking That Ride to Nowhere

Brexit’s Taking That Ride to Nowhere

Sunday, 3 February, 2019 - 11:00

The Greek philosopher Zeno of Elea gets credit for what's known as the Dichotomy Paradox. This is the observation that, in order to get from point A to point B, you have to first go halfway to point B, but before that you must go half of that half-distance, and so on until you theoretically never get anywhere.

Speaking of endless motion going nowhere: Brexit. Theresa May on Tuesday, January the 29th, won several huge victories in parliament, giving her the right to, uh, beg the EU to renegotiate a Brexit deal that has already suffered a record-breaking parliamentary rejection and that the EU has already said it doesn’t want to renegotiate. This does buy May a little more time – two weeks – notes Therese Raphael. But at the end of that two weeks there will be yet another vote, and we will be half again the distance toward the looming Brexit deadline at the end of March, with nothing much to show for it.

The parliament votes raised the chances of a disastrous no-deal Brexit, which nobody aside from the frothiest Brexiteers claims to want. Pound traders are happy anyway, because apparently they would rather see such a disaster than have Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn become prime minister, writes Marcus Asworth.

Those traders may also be betting, like May, that cooler heads will ultimately avoid a no-deal Brexit. But game theory alone suggests the not-so-cool heads in the U.K. and EU will just keep pushing each other toward such a disaster, writes Leonid Bershidsky.

And make no mistake: May’s “victory” last Tuesday was really just kicking the can (halfway) down the road, leading to more pointless negotiations and votes that only avoid the hard choices necessary, writes Bloomberg’s editorial board. As Zeno might have put it, we’re on a road to nowhere.


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