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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > May 2017 > Trigger unhappy

Trigger unhappy

The letter is sent, but the die is not cast. Britain could change course—and it might

“There is no turning back,” crowed the Sun, threatened the Mail, regretted the FT, sneered the Telegraph, and parroted the Guardian. Soon after signing her Article 50 letter, Theresa May repeated the press’s line. And it is not only the media. The notion that Brexit is inevitable has taken root in the accommodative soil that substitutes for thought in the Labour Party leadership. For the Tories the diagnosis differs. Like Maori warriors with their tattooed moko, they parade a fervent attachment to the self-punishing pleasures of a “hard Brexit” to signal their high status to one another. The public too, insofar as the polls can gauge the mood, believes Brexit is now a done deal and want the government to get on with it.

Taken alone, each is a formidable obstacle to the view that Brexit can be avoided. And taken together? Do they cast its proponents as a Shetland pony optimistically breaking the starter’s tape on Grand National Day? Well, the metaphor runs this far. We do sit at the bottom of the handicap. And we’re unfancied—but only because we’re overlooked. For we have a clear path to success.

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In Prospect’s May issue: Neal Ascherson, Simon Jenkins, John Curtice and Frances Cairncross examine the growing divide between England and Scotland. Ascherson argues that England has become Scotland’s “neurotic neighbour,” while Jenkins says we should learn from history and prepare for Scotland to leave the Union. Cairncross and Curtice debate whether Scotland could afford to break with England and whether a fresh referendum on independence is actually winnable. Also in this issue: Jason Burke questions whether the world will be a safer place after the downfall of Islamic State, Paul Hilder examines how politics got tangled in the web and Michael White reviews a new book charting the history of the Daily Mail