So as I understand it:
* Parliament today voted that Britain should not leave the EU with no deal.
* This is functionally meaningless, as right now, Britain WILL leave the EU in 16 days if no further affirmative action is taken. The default, if nothing else is passed, is to crash out with no deal at all.
* Parliament has now rejected Theresa May’s deal twice in succession.
* Any extension to the March 29 deadline would require the unanimous consent of the other 27 EU countries, whose patience has reportedly been taxed to breaking.
* While the UK could revoke their Article 50 declaration and stop the entire Brexit process dead in its tracks for good, this would require a vote of Parliament – which does not appear any more likely to come through than previous votes on the topic.
* So: they don’t want to leave with no deal, they don’t want to leave with the deal that was negotiated, but they still want to leave, and if nothing is done they WILL leave in the most uncomfortable possible manner in two weeks and change.
* After saying that the vote on the no-deal option would be a free vote, an amendment modified the bill to say that the House would stand opposed to a no-deal Brexit for good, not just on the 29th. After this, the government immediately revoked the free vote and began a three-line whip AGAINST the bill. From Wikipedia: “A three-line whip is a strict instruction to attend and vote according to the party’s position, breach of which would normally have serious consequences. Permission not to attend may be given by the whip, but a serious reason is needed. Breach of a three-line whip can lead to expulsion from the parliamentary political group in extreme circumstances, and even to expulsion from the party.”
* There were actual cabinet ministers who abstained from the critical vote. Let me say that again: THERE WERE CABINET MINISTERS WHO ABSTAINED FROM VOTING UNDER A THREE LINE WHIP. In normal times, if a Cabinet minister refused to vote under a three line whip, the Prime Minister would have that Minister dismissed, probably expelled from the party, and possibly fistfight them in the street after.
* If the sun rises tomorrow at 6:17 AM in London and those ministers are still ministers, it can be said with absolute certainly that the British parliamentary process is broken and that the government of Theresa May is not fit for purpose. Which, well, she did grasp the nettle at a difficult moment when David Cameron ran like a chickenshit from the mess he made, so full marks for being willing to step up to the plate. However, given that the referendum was basically the Great British public voting to blow its own balls off with a shotgun, she can hardly be lauded for delivering a plan after two years that amounts to “we’ll blow them off one at the time” instead.
* You know who wouldn’t have this problem? Prime Minister Nancy Pelosi. Because if there’s one thing Pelosi gets, it’s the old adage about politics as the art of the possible. Once something isn’t possible, it’s not on the board anymore for Our Nancy, and that’s why she blew off impeachment as a realistic goal (but made sure to do it in the most insulting fashion possible, because she’s not going to refrain from taking a wide-open shot).
It should be obvious at this point, but it plainly isn’t: institutions are no defense against the wrong person at the helm. Theresa May’s best hope is that enough of the credit for making this shit sandwich will land on David Cameron that people forget about her dropping it on Britain’s collective shirt.