Noel Whelan: Pressing pause on Brexit would be best thing to do

UK is racing chaotically towards March’s exit deadline. Time is needed to find a solution

Britain’s prime minister Theresa May in Brussels: Sane centrist voices in Westminster should focus on getting parliamentary majority for withdrawing the article 50 letter of application. Photograph: John Thys

Britain’s prime minister Theresa May in Brussels: Sane centrist voices in Westminster should focus on getting parliamentary majority for withdrawing the article 50 letter of application. Photograph: John Thys

Watching Britain trying to find a way out of its current constitutional crisis this week, I was reminded of one of my favourite parables, which can often usefully by applied to politics.

The story is told in different versions but essentially it concerns a man who, having been sentenced to death, begged his king to be let live for one more year promising that within that time he could teach the king’s horse to talk. The king, being both entertained and intrigued, granted the reprieve but warned the man that he would indeed be beheaded on the adjourned date if by then the horse wasn’t fully conversant. Later, the condemned man’s friends, finding him surprisingly upbeat, pointed out to that he had merely postponed the fatal day. “But,” said the man, “a year is long. During that time, I might die of natural causes anyway, or the king might die, or the horse might die.” “Who knows?” he added, “the horse might even talk. Either way I got at least another year.”

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