No Weekly Wrap-up today, gang. A rare busy Friday in politics means that there are more pressing matters to write about – I will try to wrap up the week in Monday’s article instead.
In yesterday’s admittedly slightly long-winded and rambling article (I was extremely cross with our Theresa, apologies), I wondered about what might become of May and her deal today. Would she finally meet the same end as the T-1000 in Terminator 2, dropped into a vat of molten steel? Or would she find a way to drag her dismembered torso towards the prize for one last attempt to grab victory, like in The Terminator?
I’m glad to say, ladies and gentleman, that May’s deal is, finally, dead.
What Happened Yesterday?
In a rare sitting of Parliament on a Friday, May brought her deal back to Parliament for one, last attempt to get it passed. It wasn’t the full deal that she had negotiated with the EU, however, as it omitted the Political Declaration on the future UK/EU relationship. Instead, only the ‘Withdrawal Agreement’ aspect was voted on, which covers (or covered, now that it’s dead) EU citizens’ rights, the divorce bill that defines how we leave the EU, and the backstop.
Ohhhh backstop. You old dog, you.
MPs from both sides debated the vote throughout the morning, and things got pretty tense. Die-hard ERG members like Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson, who had previously stated that they would never support May’s deal, decided to back it overnight, which many saw as blatant attempts to keep their leadership bids alive. Dominic Raab, a man as perpetually disappointing as a one-armed pianist, began the day by saying that he would never agree to Mrs. May’s deal…
And then capitulated and decided to vote for it instead.
More and more ERG members started to capitulate before the vote, too – the numbers looked like they might, just might, fall in May’s favour by the slimmest of majorities. But then the DUP announced that May could jog on, some of the die-hard ERGers held their ground, and the wavering Labour support from Leave-voting constituencies decided to hold their nerve.
May’s deal lost by 58 votes, 344 to 286.
Why Is That Significant?
Because it was her last, sneaky roll of the dice. Her deal cannot come back to another vote, now, unless substantial changes are made to it by the EU, which they have flatly refused to do. John Bercow, the Speaker of the House, has ruled that she cannot vote on the same deal again, and yesterday’s “half-a-loaf” mangling of it was the last real way she could get around his ruling. Now that it has been defeated, it is dead.
…Please, God, let it be dead.
Hilariously, it also means that she probably won’t resign. She said that she would resign “once her deal had passed.” Because it hasn’t passed (and indeed, the idea of a Conservative leadership contest was probably what made those wavering Labour MPs vote against it), she now probably won’t go.
In the words of many political figures making the same joke, May is the first PM to fall on her sword and yet somehow manage to miss.
Additionally, it has brutally divided the ERG. The hardliners who are pushing for no-deal on our new departure date of April 12th will be rubbing their hands with glee, despite the fact that it is never going to happen. They are also furious with their glorious leader, Chairman Mogg, and the Raabit in the headlights for folding when the going got tough, as are the hardline Leave voters who feel abandoned by their leaders.
The Leave camp is becoming increasingly divided and the Remain camp has wind in its sails.
What Happens Next?
We march on to Monday – April Fools’ Day, no less!
Let’s hope the foolishness ends at the date, because it could be vital in securing the next steps for Brexit. MPs will take control of Parliamentary business again, as they did on Wednesday this week. While Wednesday didn’t find a clear majority, there were some indicators that suggested a new strategy could be found.
There were high numbers of votes for a Brexit with a customs union attached (i.e. a soft Brexit), as well as for a second referendum. These findings from last Wednesday might help to better frame the debate and discussion on Monday, and we might start to see the first signs of a majority appear. There may yet have to be more debates on what our strategy will ultimately be, but a positive step in the right direction would be a fantastic start.
We have until the 12th of April to find that strategy and go back to the EU with it. The date of 22nd of May that the EU gave us if May’s deal was passed is now defunct, because May’s deal is dead.
What is looking increasingly likely is a need to participate in the elections for the European Parliament this Summer… and a plucky little group called The Independent Group just announced that they would be forming a political party to run for those elections.
Given how little faith there is in any form of politics as it stands, they might do rather well…
Have a good weekend, everyone. On Monday, we march on.
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