LONDON — It’s Friday, March 22, a week from Brexit, and Britain is hurtling toward the cliff edge.
Theresa May has arrived back in No. 10 Downing Street after a last, desperate attempt to avert disaster ended in acrimonious failure at the European Council summit in Brussels.
EU leaders have called a crisis session to prepare an emergency package of support for Ireland. Donald Tusk, the Council president, has launched another angry attack on the U.K., while insisting there is still time to postpone Brexit.
The markets are in turmoil, protests outside the U.K. parliament are turning nasty and Buckingham Palace is on the phone demanding to know what is happening.
Inside her study in No. 10, May sits alone, a glass of Penderyn whisky untouched on her desk. She knows she cannot delay the decision any longer: hunker down for no-deal or accept defeat and return to Brussels requesting a delay?
Her choice: the economic catastrophe of no-deal or the national — and personal — humiliation of a last-minute climbdown to ask Brussels for a Brexit delay.
The most remarkable fact of British politics today is that no one knows which way the prime minister would jump in this scenario: Not her Cabinet, her closest advisers nor her lifelong friends in parliament.
The woman who runs Britain in its gravest hour of crisis since 1945 remains almost uniquely unknown for a prime minister.