Two and a half years after Britain voted in a referendum to leave the European Union (EU), there is still no clarity on the terms of its departure, which has to take place on March 29 next year. While several outcomes are possible - all of them apparently unpalatable in varying degrees to the British people and politicians - the odds now would seem to be moving, by default, in favour of a second referendum, possibly leading to a reversal of the June 2016 result. A withdrawal agreement negotiated with the EU by Prime Minister Theresa May, which includes a two-year transition period, met with a deeply hostile reception in Parliament. A vote to approve the agreement, planned for Tuesday, had to be postponed because it was obvious that it would be resoundingly defeated. Mrs May, who was then subject to and survived a no-confidence motion within her party, has vowed to move ahead with delivering Brexit and will try for further concessions from the EU to placate opponents of her original deal. But this is a long shot.
EU officials repeatedly stressed that the deal already offered is the only one available. Moreover, although they are overwhelmingly opposed to the deal, Britain's politicians are also divided on the alternatives. The ruling Conservatives are split between hardline Brexiteers and supporters of various degrees of a "soft Brexit". The opposition offers no unified position either. Thus, as of now, it is hard to imagine any deal that would be endorsed by the EU, and command support from the majority of British MPs. Fundamentally, they have to choose between sovereignty and economic integration with the EU. They cannot have both.