Someone long ago dropped the Brexit mirror, mirror on the wall. And now no one is the fairest of them all, and everyone and everything looks broken and jagged.
Are we nearing the conclusion of this poisoned fairy tale; and is there even the slightest possibility of a happy ending?
What we can say for sure is that no one is having a good Brexit, certainly not our leading politicians. Theresa May sticks to her robotic mantra about my way or the highway. And no one is biting that poisoned apple rolling across the palm of her shaking hand.
And Jeremy Corbyn grows ever more tired of playing Uncle Charming. His old magic spell is wearing thinner than thin, and his only answer to any passing question is a rallying croak about holding a general election to sort everything out. With a kind of magic rubbing, he’d win that election, then banish the Brexit curse in an old socialist twinkle.
The trouble is, his left-wing version of Brexit seems as much a bent pipedream as Mrs Maybe’s right-wing version.
Corbyn is in a bind, trapped by wicked barbs: if he supports a second vote and backs Remain, he risks alienating Labour Leave supporters; and yet if his hands-off shrugging lets Brexit happen, then he won’t be forgiven by Labour supporters who want him to oppose Brexit.
Another speech given this afternoon offers more of the shrugging same, with a routine call for a general election.
Would Labour even win such a contest? No certainties there, especially not with the latest YouGov poll suggesting that Corbyn’s Brexit-shrug approach could end in electoral catastrophe. As it stands, Labour is six points behind the Tories in this YouGov poll (how could such an incompetent government out-poll the opposition?). And, as Peter Kellner pointed out in the Observer, once voters were asked how they would vote if Labour failed to oppose Brexit, the Tories acquired a 17% lead over Labour.
In other words, if Labour is seen to have allowed Brexit to happen, millions of Remain voters could jump ship.
Of course, ardent Corbyn supporters will tell you that Jeremy has “played a blinder over Brexit”. This phrase usually refers to a musician or sportsperson doing something exceptionally well. But it could also, in this case at least, refer to someone who isn’t looking where he is going.
What will this cracked mirror end up showing next? Already this week Theresa May has lost two Brexit votes forced by MPs from both sides, and then yesterday suffered at the hands of Speaker John Bercow, who permitted a change in the rules for a “meaningful debate”.
What’s interesting here is Theresa May tried to bypass Parliament, and now the MPs are using their muscle against her. Next week her postponed Big Brexit Vote will be held again, and her chances of winning still look remote. As, to be fair, do Jeremy Corbyn’s chances of winning a general election.
This all reminds us that referendums rarely solve anything. Voters often go cold on the choice they made, saying in this case: yes, I wanted Brexit, but not this Brexit, you know, the other one, the one we were promised.
Mirror, mirror on the wall, will this never end?