When the EU gave the British government a deadline for the 12th of April, assuming May’s deal failed (again), they probably assumed that we’d pull our fingers out of our collective political bottom and get on with it at long last.
Instead, last week was a solid week of achieving next to jack all.
The Prime Minister, whose name has now officially been changed to Theresa Bloody May, promised to resign if her deal was passed. This resulted in some sickeningly insincere praise from MPs and the media alike for her “courage” and “leadership.” As I predicted, however, everyone seemed to forget that her deal had about as much chance at passing as the stool of someone with a low-fibre diet who has just eaten cement.
As such, a special sitting of the Commons was called last Friday to hold a vote on half of her deal. While the margin of loss fell to 58 votes, it was still a comprehensive loss nonetheless. So, her deal didn’t pass, which was supposedly the prerequisite for her leaving: what effect would that have on her “resignation?”
Unsurprisingly, she’s not going anywhere. Over the weekend, some MPs have been quoted as saying that she might even be the Conservative candidate if a snap General Election is called as there might not be time to find a new leader. If she then won, she would have her own, fresh mandate, and could stay in charge for up to five years.
So, to summarise, that whole exercise was about as pointless as a dog with a law degree (now the picture makes sense, eh?). May not only tried to fall on her sword and missed, she actually fell onto a trampoline that bounced her back to square one.
However, one good thing to come out of last week was the open, impassioned and rational debate by MPs on finding an alternative route out of the Brexit impasse through indicative votes. While no majority was found, a high percentage of votes found some traction for a softer Brexit and a second referendum.
The next debate, and next round of indicative votes, is happening today.
So What Is Actually Happening This Week?
MPs will sit and debate the various motions put forward by MPs for the indicative votes process. These will likely include (with results from last week beside them as FOR / AGAINST / MAJORITY):
- A deal with a customs union: 264 / 272 / -8;
- A Second Referendum: 295 / 268 / -47;
- No-deal: 160 / 400 / -240;
- Labour’s Brexit plan: 237 / 307 / -70;
- Revoking Article 50 and cancelling Brexit outright: 184 / 293 / -109
- “Common Market 2.0” (Norway-type deal): 188 / 283 / -95
As you can see, the first two options both had relatively small defeats – it wouldn’t be beyond the realms of possibility to see one or both gain majorities today. One hypothetical outcome could see a second referendum where the choices are the ‘deal with a customs union’ be the option vs. Remain – a combination of both strategies.
Monday Evening / Tuesday / Never?
Despite me calling the official time and declaration of death for May’s deal last week, there are rumours abound that somewhere, deep down in that dank little hovel she inhabits under 10 Downing Street, she is still scheming to find a way to bring it back yet again. Depending on the results from today, she might try to pitch her deal as the option against whatever strategy finds a majority in the indicative votes. This might this evening, tomorrow, or not at all if she cannot find a way to bring it back.
For God’s sake Tezza. Let. It. Rest. It tried its best, continuously failed, is now as dead as a doorknob. Any attempts at resuscitation would just be cruel. This deal is far more Gregor Clegane than Jon Snow at this point (one for you Game of Thrones fans out there).
Assuming that a majority has been found, MPs might try to put the result of the indicative votes into legislation – i.e. legally make it the official new strategy of Parliament. May has warned that she is under no obligation to do this if she disagrees with it, and many of her Brexiteer chums have said that they will resign if she agrees to support anything less than a hard Brexit or possibly try to force a general election.
On the other hand, if she refuses she will probably be forcibly removed from office, with some claiming that she would even be breaking the law if she refused to listen to Parliament.
Absolutely no matter what she does, May is going to suffer this week. A lot.
MPs are supposed to lock everything into their tuck boxes and saunter off on their Easter holibobs.
I can’t imagine that will happen, somehow.
Anything Else I Need To Know?
- Over the weekend, 170 MPs wrote to May to ask for a “managed no-deal Brexit.” Despite their overwhelming stupidity at trying to flog this long, long-dead horse, and their greed in using an economically disastrous outcome to further their own political careers, they still represent a sizeable chunk of the Conservative Party. It is unlikely that the letter would have had much effect, however.
- It was a bad weekend for Dominic Grieve, the Conservative MP who has been a constant thorn in May’s side by promoting a second referendum and helping to create the indicative votes system. He was given a vote of no confidence by his local constituency association for his attempts to undermine the government. However, he will not be deselected by the Conservative Party amidst fears that this no confidence vote was infiltrated by UKIP members.
- The latest opinion polls have the Conservatives’ majority falling considerably. While Opinium published results that put them level with Labour at 35%, the Mail on Sunday even gave Labour a 41% lead over the the Tories’ 36%. However, opinion polls are famously terrible at predicting anything, so take these numbers with a pinch of salt.
- The Vote Leave campaign, which promoted the Leave option during the weeks preceding the referendum, has dropped its appeal against a ruling that it overspent, admitting its guilt. Funding is capped for campaigns to ensure a level playing field, yet Vote Leave admitted it ignored the law. The only punishments so far have been some fines. DEMOCRACY, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN.
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