Apologies, in advance, to the Eagles and that indestructible classic, Hotel California, for what follows:

“Last thing Boris remembers, he was

Running for the door

He had to find the passage back to the place the U.K. was before

‘Relax,’ said the E.U.,

‘We are programmed to receive.

You can check out any time you like,

But you can never leave…’ ”

So it must seem, at times, to Britsh Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Before I get to the background, a quick note on why all this Brexit stuff matters, why anyone outside of Europe or outside of government or academia or Wonksville should care.

Why you should care if you don’t punch any of those buttons.

For one, “cross the pond.” Imagine President Trump trying to force Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to bring USMCA to a vote by formally filing for withdrawal from NAFTA. Granted, they are differently constructed agreements, the European Union and NAFTA, but are we not getting a glimpse of the chaos that could ensue? Here’s what Trump said last December: “I’ll be terminating it within a relatively short period of time. We get rid of NAFTA. It’s been a disaster for the United States.” As if the U.S.- China trade war isn’t enough.

For another, imagine Scotland, which was opposed to leaving the European Union three years ago, reversing its separate “secession” vote from five years ago and pulling away from England and Great Britain. What then?

Imagine Northern Ireland, party to a remarkably stable peace agreement since 1998 that ended the Troubles, decades of violence that largely pitted Protestants against Catholics, and currently enjoying an open border with Ireland, deciding it would prefer to be in the European Union than with England and Great Britain in the United Kingdom.

(Although the terminology is often butchered, Northern Ireland is not part of Great Britain but is part of what is called the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Presumably, Unexit didn’t have the same ring as Brexit.)

Boris on Saturday was, if not fully throttled, at least temporarily thwarted in his efforts to extract the United Kingdom from the European Union, some three years after the residents of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales voted in aggregate to check out and leave.

Come on, Boris. You can check out any time you want but you can never leave…

Two days ago, the British House of Commons, in the first Saturday session in almost 40 years (since the 1982 war with Argentina, what the British call the Falklands War and the Argentinians’ call the Malvinas War), decided to, well, not to give Boris what he wanted, not just yet anyway.

To avoid a “hard” Brexit on Oct. 31, one without an agreement, the legislators had voted to require that Johnson ask the E.U. for an extension. Another one.

You see, Johnson had put together an agreement that somewhat surprisingly passed muster with the European Union’s leaders and only needed his own Parliament to sign off on it.

The vote — the one in London — forced Boris, who is nothing if not determined to engage in a little stagecraft of his own. Johnson sent a letter to the European Union, as required by law, asking for an extension.

But he didn’t sign it.

He sent another letter asking those same European leaders not to grant the extension he requested in the unsigned letter.

Come on, Boris. You can check out any time you want but you can never leave…

And, now, he has announced he will take his E.U.-approved plan back to the British Parliament either today or in the next couple of days for another run at approval.

The biggest bone of contention in that agreement is how to handle trade between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

There is speculation that Boris might muster the votes he needs, since some of those same members of Parliament who on Saturday voted against the deal simply wanted the letter requesting the extension to be in place.

Now, it is.

Even if it’s unsigned.

Even if he followed with a letter saying to ignore the first letter.

Maybe, just maybe, Boris and the United Kingdom will exit the Hotel European Union on or before Oct. 31 after all.

Maybe you can leave the Hotel European Union.

Don’t expect that to mean things will get any less complicated.

The deal Boris took to the European Union would allow trade to continue to occur freely, without a hard border, between Northern Ireland and Ireland – the fear is that a militarized border might lead to renewed violence in Northern Ireland.

When those goods enter Scotland, England or Wales, they would have to then clear Customs. The same would hold for exports from Scotland, England or Wales bound for Ireland.

So, even though Northern Ireland would no longer be a part of the European Union, it would sure seem like it was.

Sometimes, it feels like we too are captives, that we can never leave. That this is a story without end. Stay tuned, if you can.


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