This rule undermines meaningful negotiations. Negotiators focus on the end date and conclude that the other side has no incentive to reveal its hand before then. Whether the allotted negotiation period is two months, two years, or two decades, the result is the same: the stronger side (the European Commission in Brussels in this case) has an incentive to run down the clock and make no significant compromises before the eleventh hour.
Any resetting of the clock would simply extend the paralysis, not speed up convergence toward a good agreement. Giving May another three months, or even three years, would do nothing to create incentives to reveal hidden preferences or to drop fictitious red lines.
To synthesize competing views into one coherent position, Britain needs more than a voting scheme: it needs a People’s Debate that the ticking clock makes impossible, even if reset. The standstill and the phoney negotiations will thus come to an end only if the made-up deadline is allowed to expire by a Parliament willing calmly to say “no” to unacceptable deals negotiated by May and the EU. Allowing the clock to run down is now a prerequisite for resolving the Brexit conundrum.