Amber Rudd on the Today Programme gave the game away this morning about how the Prime Minister and the cabinet expect to get the government’s divisive Brexit plan through parliament.

She did not demur from what seems right now a self-evident truth, that MPs will reject the deal when given their “meaningful vote” on it.

But MPs would then stare into the “abyss”, she said, recognise that a no-deal Brexit would be a disaster and another referendum too risky, and would then approve the deal – perhaps slightly modified – when brought back to them a second time.

This is what ministers refer to as the “TARP model” – as recently coined by the former government aide, Rupert Harrison.

For the uninitiated, TARP was the US scheme to bail out bust banks after the Crash in 2008. It was initially rejected by Congress, which caused the stock market to collapse. And at that point Senators and members of the House of Representative panicked and voted through a modified version of the scheme.

So what May, her ministers and her chief whip are banking on (to coin a phrase) is that as and when MPs reject her Brexit plan, the stock market and sterling (in particular) would tank – which would so scare Tory rebel MPs (the Cabinet hopes) that they would at that juncture be persuaded to recant and back May’s deal.

It is all very plausible. It is also dangerous.

Brexit was supposed to be all about taking back control, forever.

If a Brexit deal that a majority of MPs currently reject as being an affront to the UK’s right to democratic self-determination were then passed because of fear that otherwise the country would be punished by international investors, by big capital, this would be rich and fertile territory for extremists and populists to exploit.

Brexit was billed by its proponents as being a moment of freedom. It would be profoundly unhealthy for confidence in our democracy if what many see as a degraded Brexit was adopted merely because our MPs panicked in the face of a market rout.

Robert Peston is ITV Political Editor. This first appeared on Facebook. 

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