With roughly 80 days left until Brexit Day, Prime Minister Theresa May is growing increasingly desperate to win support for her supremely unpopular Brexit withdrawal agreement by any means necessary. And with the EU offering no room to reopen negotiations - and dozens of Tories joining with Labour and the DUP to oppose the current deal - May has little choice but to boost her "Project Fear" into hyper-drive.
As May reportedly reaches across the floor to try and win over some Labour MPs to make up for the lack of support among the Tories and DUP, the prime minister took to Britain's most popular platform for political message - the BBC's Andy Marr show - to insist that MPs must unite behind her deal or risk unleashing a wave of economic upheaval.
Once again, May warned that a 'no deal' Brexit would put Britain in "uncharted territory". May vowed that the "meaningful vote" on her deal would proceed on Jan. 14 or 15, and that if the deal isn't ultimately passed, the UK's plans for exiting the EU could be "in danger."
"If the deal is not voted on, then we are going to be in uncharted territory," she said. "I don't think anyone can say what will happen in terms of the reaction we see in Parliament.
In her latest sop to lawmakers, May promised new safeguards for Northern Ireland and also offered MPs a greater say in shaping the trade deal between the EU and UK that is to be negotiated during the post-Brexit Day transition.
Courtesy of the BBC
In an editorial published Sunday in the Daily Mail, May warned that failing to pass her deal could put Britons' livelihoods at risk.
With days to go until the Commons showdown on her deal, Mrs May says that MPs thinking of voting it down should consider the effect on 'the jobs our constituents rely on to put food on the table for their families.'
And in another familiar refrain, May questioned rebellious lawmakers' commitment to the popular will by claiming - once again - that the only way to honor the results of the Brexit referendum would be to vote for her deal.
She writes: "MPs of every party will face the same question when the division bell rings. It is a question of profound significance for our democracy and for our constituents. The only way to both honour the result of the referendum and protect jobs and security is by backing the deal that is on the table."
With the holiday truce now a memory, May also renewed her attacks on MPs pushing for a second referendum, arguing that holding another referendum would be impractical from the standpoint of logistics, while also doing little to salve the divisions in British society.
ay slammed MPs asking for a second referendum. "It would divide our country and we wouldn’t be able to organize a referendum before March 29," she said, pointing out it would therefore require an extension of Article 50 (the treaty article allowing withdrawals from the EU).
Taking a shot at ERG MPs who have questioned her assurances about the Irish Backstop, May warned that Brexiteers risked throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
"Don't let the search for the prefect [Brexit] become the enemy of the good. Because the danger there is we end up with no Brexit at all," May said.
As the Daily Mail pointed out, May’s latest round of "Project Fear" warnings have arrived as a pack of lorries prepare to take part in the first 'No Deal rehearsal' for potential chaos at Dover, with truckers testing government plans to use the disused Manston Airport as a holding pen for HGVs.
Critics of May's approach have suggested that TV footage of lorries lined up in rush hour traffic would represent obvious "Project Fear spin."
Now that pre-holiday rumors that the DUP might relent and reluctantly support May's deal have been put to rest, it's becoming increasingly clear that May hasn't made any progress since deciding to postpone a vote on her deal early last month. With no practical alternatives, Downing Street is effectively pinning its hopes on a ‘white smoke’ moment from Brussels: That is, last-minute concessions over the backstop that would help May avert a no deal scenario. May has said she will be on 'standby' to rush over to Brussels if the EU changes its mind about reopening the deal.
But such a capitulation would be so harmful to the EU's credibility that it's difficult to imagine it happening. During her interview with Marr, May refused to rule out calling multiple votes on her deal.
In effect, May is right back where she started: Hoping that an adverse reaction in markets and hysterical warnings about the risks of 'no deal' will force hostile MPs to relent at the last minute.
That's probably bad news for British investors. And good news for Steve Eisman.