Wow, what a week in politics!

I know I have said it previously, but I think this week warrants it again;

“Wow what a week in politics.” 

  • Theresa May had all her options taken away from her last week by MPs;
  • Parliament refused to accept her deal – defeated by 149
  • Parliament, voted to include a clause that stopped her dropping out of the EU with a ‘No Deal’ at any point, which was lost by 4 votes
  • MPs voted that she must return to the EU and ask them for an extension of article 50

Although none of these votes are strictly legally binding it is considered that they are morally binding and it is therefore difficult for her to flaunt them directly.  The only vote that she appeared to win was the one that threatened to take power way from her and place it in the hands of parliament, and she only won that by two votes or one MP.

Theresa the Bruce however stayed true to her name in this barrage of defeats and made it clear that she would bring her deal back to the parliament for a third time this week and MPs just better vote for it or else!!!!!!!!!!

Or else what?

It was unclear last week exactly what power she had still clung on to that she could bring to bear on her colleagues in order to get them to support her revolving deal.  Half of her cabinet appeared to have voted against her on the ‘No Deal’ scenario and she has already said she isn’t standing in the next General Election so her influence even over her own party is waning rapidly.   She has however been stoic and resolute throughout and insisted that this time, due to the nearness and the fear of a very real ‘No Deal’ scenario her deal would pass through parliament presumably to cheers and whoops of support.  The concept of the Prime Minister’s own phrase; ‘A No Deal is better than a bad deal’ does bounce around my head a little when I think of a deal that is so dubious that it has such a chequered history;

Pretty immediate resignation of two cabinet ministers within hours of leaving Chequers and five junior ministers the focus of ridicule by the EU at the Strasbourg conference at end of November 2018.

In an unprecedented move, the PM pulls the vote of the deal after a number of days of debate of it in parliament before a vote can be taken because she knew it would fail

The deal returns to a commons vote on 15th January 2019 at which point a further three ministers resign and leads to the biggest defeat of a government in parliament ever in the democratic era losing by 230 votes.

A breakaway group called the TIG is formed with cross party support which 3 of the Bruce’s MPs join, reducing her effective majority (with the DUP to around 2) citing the PMs reluctance to compromise on her deal as the rationale. Additionally two further ministers resign for the same reasons.

The vote reaches parliament a second time and loses yet again by 149 votes and this time two further ministers resign, but it is also evident that ministers remain in office even though they vote against the government whip.

Then to cap it all, the Speaker stated on Monday that actually he won’t allow her to bring her third vote forward unless it has had material and substantial changes applied to it.  The vote is subsequently not taken in parliament as scheduled, on the Tuesday and instead the PM shoots off to Europe to discuss with them the possibilities of an extension to article 50 armed with something less dangerous than a peashooter.

Just to be on the safe side though she makes a bizarre speech blaming the whole thing on the MPs trying to suggest that there can be no blame sitting with her as she is on the side of the people.  I am tempted to ask exactly which people she is on the side of, the Brexiteers, the Remainers, the Tories, or the plain old, ‘just get on with it’ers’, or maybe she believes it is all of them – a challenging task for even the most polished diplomat.

So at least we can now say that the doomed deal has finally been put to rest, oh no it appears not, it has been cited by the EU as being required in order to provide an extension to article 50 until 22nd May.  Will it never go away?

At least I can now provide you all with a definitive road plan of where we are heading, no sorry, can’t quite do that, but what I can do at last give you an indication of when we should absolutely know whether we will be leaving the EU this year. 

The EU have offered to extend article 50 if Theresa The Bruce’s deal is accepted before 29th March which still feels unlikely, would give us some clarity, but they have also offered to extend article 50 to 12th April even in the event of a rejection of The Bruce’s deal.  This date is significant as it is the last date that the UK can specify that they will take part in European elections.  The EU is clear that they will not allow the UK Brexit process undermine those elections, so if we decide not to take part in the elections then the very last date that the EU would accept an extension to would be 22nd May.   This is all wrapped up in potential legal details that the EU would not wish to disturb.  This is clear and specific and therefore we would at this stage have an element of certainty for which we could start to plan. 

Unfortunately however if we did decide to take part in the European elections then all possible options remain open, assuming, of course, the EU is prepared to give us a longer extension.  The doubt and lack of clarity, therefore, would continue, and we would effectively be back to square one with no clearer picture of the future or consensus for it.

The one shining light that comes from this whole sordid affair, might perhaps be a reinvigoration of politics.  I talked to a colleague this week who was happy to admit that he had no interest in politics and found it boring.  He is of a generation that has grown up with bland politics and I can’t blame him, but when we started to discuss the details and the impacts of politics, he did not perhaps show what you would call interest, but he started to realise that actually the whole thing did influence his life in numerous ways, and without putting words in his mouth, I think perhaps he decided that he should take more notice in the future.


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