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Analysis: Do you have ‘any questions’ about Brexit?

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Each day, usually at 11am, the prime minister’s official spokesman or his deputy holds a briefing with political journalists in a tucked-away tower room in the Palace of Westminster.

Brexit, as you would expect, has dominated discussion – on Monday one journalist cheekily asked “do you have a strategy”, a question that was astonishingly met with silence, laughter and only then a meek nod of the head.

Yesterday, the mood wasn’t much different – the opening “any questions?” from Mrs May’s press man caused belly laughs.

In the subsequent 30 minutue back and forth not much detail was given, but what was not said was perhaps more revealing.

Such is the current state of the government’s Brexit strategy, after Commons Speaker John Bercow ruled a third vote on the deal could not go ahead, it could not even be confirmed whether Cabinet had a united position on a next step.

Mrs May’s spokesman revealed that the prime minister would be sending a letter to European Council President Donald Tusk to request an extension to Article 50 – but when pressed if this letter had been agreed by all her Cabinet ministers, the answer came back “I can’t add anything more than I have already”.

Just nine days out from Britain’s legal date of departure, it would seem there is little consensus in Cabinet, Parliament or even among opposition party leaders on where to go next.

And the EU seems very far from offering a lifeboat.

Michel Barnier said yesterday that extending Article 50 would just “extend the uncertainty without a clear plan”, adding: “It is for the British Government and Parliament to decide very quickly what the UK wants to do next”.

That, Mr Barnier, is seemingly the problem.

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