The muddle and mess over how to handle Brexit has damaged the reputation of both parties and of politicians in general. The fundamental lesson is surely that very complex questions cannot be properly answered by referendum; and that to give responsibility to implement a referendum decision to a parliament is to muddle two forms of accountability.
But we are not blessed by the individual characteristics of the people leading the two main parties. Some suggest Mrs May is autistic and listens to no one. That may be true but doesn’t explain why she drew such strong red lines very early when the options had not been properly considered. She is a very rigid person and gave away all room for flexibility and compromise before she started thinking. Most people suspect that Corbyn is really a Brexiteer and not a clear thinker but his reputation for being one of the few honest politicians is eroding fast as he tries to evade and fudge the question.
My optimistic scenario is that parliament will likely vote to outlaw crashing out. After that the proposal that Mrs May’s deal, however modified, be passed by the House of Commons on condition that it is put back to the people for a binding referendum with the simple question, her deal or remain as we are. I suspect the referendum would vote to remain as we are, and we would all wake up – or at least most of us – and breathe a sigh of relief and soon forget what all the fuss was about!