Which way to the exit?

David Runciman writes about the Brexit puzzle

Brexit has arrived at its witching hour. Seemingly plausible schemes are being conjured out of thin air and every meaningful question has many possible answers, and therefore possibly none. It is hard to think of anything to say which is not being said somewhere else by people you’d prefer not to associate with. Still, here is a question I have not seen posed elsewhere: why did not one Tory MP abstain from the vote of confidence in Theresa May? The whole process felt a little uncanny. The poll was triggered in secret one night and fully concluded by the next. Turnout was a Stalinist 100 per cent – a figure only achieved by allowing two MPs who had lost the whip over allegations of sexual misconduct back into the fold for this occasion – and there were no spoilt ballots. Every single eligible voter expressed a view one way or the other: 200 for, 117 against. Was there really no one who felt truly conflicted, unable to convey confidence in the prime minister but unwilling for her to be replaced by someone even worse? When Jeremy Corbyn faced – and overwhelmingly lost – a confidence vote in 2016, 13 Labour MPs declined to take part, along with four who spoiled their ballots. Are all Tories so much clearer in their minds than that?

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