Happy Monday one and all, 25 sleeps until Brexit!
And if that doesn’t fill you with an overwhelming sense of dread then I admire your optimism. Even if Brexit itself turns out to be fine, the arguments and anger will never truly end.
Welcome to Brexit Britain – one big, drunken Wetherspoons argument where everyone gets vomit splashback on their shoes.
The real meat-and-two-veg of Brexit will happen next week – next Tuesday is the deadline for a second vote in Parliament on Theresa May’s deal, and the subsequent days will see votes on no-deal Brexit and delaying Article 50.
However, there have been some developments over the weekend, so let’s have a very quick update.
May Offers Bribes For Votes*
*Although not explicitly, I must add. I don’t want to be sent to the Tower Of London for treason (that’s still a thing, right?).
Theresa May has created a £1.6bn fund for redistributing wealth to some of the poorer towns across the UK. In particular, this money will go to the north and the Midlands and will be sent out over the next six years.
- MPs from across Labour and Conservative Parties have accused this of being a means to bribe Labour MPs who represent poorer, Leave-majority constituencies.
- The accusation is that in exchange for more funding, Labour MPs might rebel against their party and vote for Theresa May’s deal next Tuesday.
- It is worth noting that these funds are available even if the vote fails, however.
- Most funds are directed to Labour-heavy areas, leading to accusations that it is also simply trying to buy support from Labour supporters.
- Additionally, the amount of money that’s been offered has been widely ridiculed by MPs.
- Ruth Smeeth (Lab, Stoke-on-Trent) called it “extraordinarily pathetic.”
- The accusation is that national cuts to local funding generally vastly outweigh the offered funds, meaning that these towns will still be poorer overall.
Why is this important?
It suggests that May is starting to panic somewhat in what could be a vital week in gathering support for the vote on her deal. She will almost certainly need Labour defectors to get a majority and this new offer of funds for poorer efforts does smack slightly of underhand tactics to get support.
Speaking of support…
ERG Still Unhelpful Cretins
The ERG have laid out three ‘tests’ to any new deal that must be passed before they can support it. Attorney General Geoffrey Cox is currently handling negotiations with the EU to make changes to the backstop before next Tuesday’s vote.
The tests call for a clear, legally-binding change to the backstop that unequivocally states that the UK will never be locked into it indefinitely – i.e. that it can only ever be temporary.
Yep. However, a change which fulfils these criteria is extremely unlikely to be accepted by the EU. The backstop must exist, they argue, to prevent a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, as they must protect EU member states – in this case, Ireland. Alternative solutions are being studied, but many around the negotiations are reported to be pessimistic about the outcome.
So this is basically just more blustering from the ERG. It is, however, still a sign of at least some form of conciliation, so even if their demands are highly unlikely to pass, it demonstrates more of a willingness to work with May to pass a deal.
And the importance?
As above, May desperately needs support for her deal. If she can get the Brexiteers in the ERG onside, she stands a much better chance of getting a vote through the House of Commons.
If she doesn’t, the circus of delaying Brexit begins, which would be catastrophic for her politically.
- The antisemitism row continues in the Labour Party:
- Deputy Leader Tom Watson has asked for complaints about antisemitism to be sent to him directly as he has lost faith in the party to handle it.
- General Secretary Jennie Formby has said that this is unacceptable as it is not proper process. Formby is a close ally of Corbyn.
- Watson has gone more and more rogue recently, looking likely to actively oppose Corbyn in the next few weeks. He has considerable support from moderate MPs.
- Tony Blair has praised the courage of the MPs who left to form The Independent Group, but has said that he will remain a Labour Party member.
- Jeremy Corbyn was egged as he visited a local Mosque. Reports say that he was “unharmed.” Presumably this is because the weapon of choice was an egg.
I predict this to be a slower week so will keep developments to a minimum in preparation for next week, which I shall henceforth refer to as:
The Brexit Ultimatum: Lies, Leverage, Stalemate, Histrionics, Idiocy and Tusk.
I think it’s a fitting acronym.