The British have long been adept at producing epic literary sagas in a gothic setting. In the 19th century the English novelist Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, a monstrous tale centred on an ill-advised experiment gone wrong. In the late 20th century much of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series took place at Hogwarts, a boarding school modelled on the austere architectural style made popular by the school of architects who designed buildings such as the Palace of Westminster.
But for dark drama, and ludicrous plot twists, nothing can quite top the 21st century Brexit saga as it has unfolded in the crumbling, gothic House of Commons since Britain voted in 2016 to leave the European Union. Increasingly the grim tale is like a cross between the feature film Groundhog Day, in which a weatherman is condemned to live the same day over and over again, and the Michael Dobbs original version of House of Cards.
Then, on Saturday, the scriptwriters of Brexit produced their most implausible development yet in the entire series. Rather than endorsing the deal painstakingly agreed with the European Union, MPs voted for further delay. They backed an amendment proposed by former Tory MP Oliver Letwin MP, the Tory veteran who has been at the scene of endless political disasters throughout his long career in public service. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that Letwin cannot make more complicated than it needs to be.