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Long Reads

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Into the Brexit Labyrinth

After a year and a half of negotiations with the European Union, the British government is no closer to a divorce agreement than it was when it invoked Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty in March 2017. Sooner or later, Britons will have to choose between self-destruction and no Brexit at all.

LONDON – Anyone familiar with M.C. Escher’s famous illustrations knows what it is like to lose oneself in the haunting infinitude of an eternally recurring maze. The British people are now enduring something similar, only without any of the Escherian precision or wonder.

Call it the Brexit Impossibility Maze. Prime Minister Theresa May marched boldly through the main entrance on March 29, 2017, when she triggered Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon. She has been wandering through a political and logistical labyrinth ever since.

Seeking a Direction

When one first steps into the darkness of the Brexit Impossibility Maze, one must walk forward until encountering a sturdy cross-hedge. At that point, one has a choice: take a sharp turn to the left, or follow a gentle curve branching off to the right. The first path leads toward the “framework for the final relationship” section of the maze; the second toward an “exit treaty” – which deals solely with the conditions of the UK’s divorce from the EU.

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