The time has come for me to update two articles published on this website some time ago. The first was “Brexit and The Donald: both big mistakes?” posted on Thursday 17 November 2016 and the second was “Soft-as-soap Brexit on the cards?” posted on Wednesday 14 June 2017. My first comment on them is to say that the then editor of the website placed the question marks after the titles. I would not have done so. I did think (and still think) that both Brexit and Donald Trump’s election were big mistakes by the British people and the American system. I still insist that a soft-as-soap Brexit is very much on the cards.

Sandwiched in between those two articles was this one: “Theresa May: The first great British PM of the 21st century?” posted on Wednesday 26 April 2017. Unlike the other two, in that case I would have placed the question mark there myself. I now very much doubt she will be regarded in that way and my reasoning in that article turned out to be quite wrong. I do, however, think she will come to be seen as an admirable woman, who was a very interesting British Prime Minister.

On Trump, let me give some statistics of recent US elections. In November 2016, Hillary Clinton won 65,853,510 popular votes to 62,984,824 secured by Trump. (The percentages of the two-party vote were 51.11 for Clinton and 48.89 for Trump). Then there were mid-term congressional elections two years later, at which Democratic candidates received 60,727,598 votes (54.36 per cent) to 50,983,895 (45.64 per cent) won by Republican candidates. To me, therefore, it is quite clear that Trump has no mandate but the Democrats in the House of Representatives (235 of them) do have a mandate. The 200 remaining Republicans in the House must support Trump.

Therefore, it was always obvious that if Trump tried to shut the government down, he would lose face badly. It is now even more obvious that any further attempt will result in yet more humiliation for him. The House of Representatives is under no duty to vote money for a discredited President like Trump. He should now resign himself to reality and obey the instruction of Section 3 of Article 2 of the US Constitution which remains: “He shall take care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”

On Tuesday, there were votes in the British House of Commons that created the impression of Theresa May on a high. However, with the EU emphatically rejecting any variation to the May-EU Brexit deal, there is no way for the British to come out of this looking good. Whichever way it goes, they will look foolish. So, what should they do and what will they do?

They should have another referendum. It would give remainers the win they should have enjoyed back in June 2016. However, I do not think that is now likely. The British have this incredible idea that a Brexit vote of 51.89% (with remain being 48.11%) can be called “52-48” and be pronounced a “solid win”. My Australian knowledge tells me that no amendment to the Australian Constitution has been carried on such a miserable affirmative vote. So it is all nonsense but British pride will, I think, prevail over my idea of common sense.

In my article “Soft-as-soap Brexit on the cards?” I did not define precisely what I meant. Let me now do so. The May-EU Brexit deal would qualify for such a description. Its chances are, I think, much better than pundits will now allow. I predict it will come to pass some day about the middle of March. Those who rejected it a month ago will have a massive amount of egg on their faces.

In that article I coined my own quip which was: “British politicians can always be relied upon to do the right thing – but only after they have exhausted every alternative.” I followed that with this: “I predict within two years I shall be saying that.” A hard no-deal Brexit would not reflect the will of the British people. That is so obvious it will not happen. The only alternative left is the May-EU deal. British politicians will hold their noses while they vote for it but they will vote for it none-the-less. Perhaps, for reasons I did not then have in mind I say this: Theresa May will be regarded as the first great British Prime Minister of the 21st Century.

(Malcolm Mackerras is Honorary Fellow of Australian Catholic University. malcolm.mackerras@acu.edu.au)