Since the meaningful vote in January, we’ve had some relative respite from the never-ending tumult of Brexit.
While the threat of no-deal still loomed over us like a policeman who’s caught you drinking when you’re 15 (I’m still scarred from that experience), there were scant few headlines of any real importance. There were a few smatterings of events that wanted to be stories, but mostly these were just murmurs about how cross everyone would be about a ‘no-deal’ Brexit.
Last week saw the creation of The Independent Group, and I wrote that it could prove to be something of a catalyst for breaking the deadlock. Without wanting to seem like I’m desperately craving praise (I definitely am though), it’s starting to look as though I might be right. There have been some major developments in the last 24 hours and it feels like we are now, at last, approaching the Brexit endgame.
Yesterday, at the start of what could prove to be an exceptionally important week, the air suddenly got heavy and still. The previously distant rumbles started to crack louder, with once-distant flashes now appearing overhead. In the distance, the rain clouds started to form and the wind blew them closer.
The storm hath brewed, and it is here.
BREXIT’S BACK, BABY!
Corbyn Backs Second Referendum
Let’s start with the Labour shift first. Everyone’s favourite mardy Marxist, Jeremy Corbyn, announced yesterday that the Labour Party will support a second referendum for the first time. He has finally decided to have a strategy on Brexit that isn’t just watching what the Conservatives do with a thumb stuck firmly up his bottom.
While for remainers, this is undoubtedly good news and is something of an ideological victory, there are some caveats worth noting:
- This absolutely, categorically, does not guarantee a second referendum
- An amendment backing a second referendum will only be voted on after his own version of a deal is voted on (which he expects to lose), making it a Plan B.
- Additionally, and more pertinently, it is also widely believed that there would not be a majority of MPs in Parliament (from all sides) to vote for it to pass, so even if a vote for a second referendum is held it may well LOSE.
- This has been the Labour Party’s unofficial stance for quite some time
- While Labour MPs have largely been in favour of a second referendum, although this is the first time the Party is officially, and proactively, supporting a People’s Vote
- As such, the timing of the announcement has to be considered
- The formation of The Independent Group last week, who are all pro-second referendum, has scared the living bejesus out of the Labour top branch.
- More and more Labour MPs have threatened to defect if there was no change in Labour policy, so this could be seen as a means to appease them.
- This is especially true if, as above, there is no majority for it – Labour’s leaders could be seen support to a People’s Vote it but secretly know that it won’t happen.
- If it does happen, it will be a nightmare
- Many would argue that it is a necessary nightmare, but the nitty-gritty will be a right old slog.
- For instance, what would the vote be on? Leave/Remain? Deal/No-Deal? Deal/No-Deal/Remain?
- What happens if there is a tiny winning majority for Remain, similar to the one the first time round? What happens if Leave wins again, with a bigger margin?
All fun questions to be considered, and the not-particularly-cuddly Communist will be pressed today into explaining his stance further and will be challenged on much of the above.
Could be fun.
Tories Are Revolting
No, not like that, though plenty of you seem to think so.
This week, Theresa May has had her position massively undermined by her own party. While she has been off in Egypt saying “It’s my way or the highway, buster,” her party have been slowly taking the wheels off the car she’s currently driving, “her way,” towards a wall at 80mph.
- Prominent cabinet ministers (and some non-prominent ones too for good measure) have threatened to quit their roles as ministers and even the party if the Prime Minister doesn’t definitively state that Britain won’t leave the EU without a deal, as have scores of MPs.
- The Conservative Party is starting to corner her into ruling out no-deal.
- She and the Brexiteers in her party insist that no-deal must be on the table as a negotiating tool, but those who disagree believe that the threat of the damage it could cause is simply too much of a risk to use as a bargaining chip.
- Her rebelling ministers are saying that she must be more responsible, and up until now she has flicked them the V and blown them a raspberry in a far less adorable way than Olivia Colman.
Now, however, she will have to listen. With the threat of the Cooper/Boles/Letwin amendment tomorrow, she will be desperate to remain in control of negotiations, something she will not be able to do if the amendment passes. Increased pressure of rebellion might just be enough for her to consider her negotiating stance untenable in the long run (thank you again, TIG).
Reports this morning have said that Brexiteer MPs have been briefed to receive bad news today, as Theresa May will be making a statement which presumably panders to the ministers threatening rebellion. Most likely, she will attempt to win the amendments tomorrow by tabling her own that takes no-deal off the table. It seems as though she is listening to a moderate majority for the first time, rather than pandering to the ERG.
There have been fascinating stories this week about Theresa May’s leadership style – absolutely zero co-operation, no listening, no concessions, just a zombified walk to a destination she doesn’t know yet.
Now, finally, she might just have her decision (or lack thereof so far) made for her.
The most notable thing about these two stories is that both leaders are finally, FINALLY, having to change their official stance on Brexit, a mere five weeks before it’s legally bound to happen. The influence of The Independent Group cannot be understated here, providing MPs with a credible threat to leave, and thank goodness someone had the balls to actually try to break the deadlock.
The staring match is over, and now we enter the endgame.
The skies crackle and roar, and the first few drops of ice-cold rain land upon the balding British head of destiny.
Hope you brought a brolly, because it’s going to be a downpour.
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