Between the Lines covered last week’s indicative votes and lamented the fact that they were largely called a failure by the media. The backlash against them was due to the fact that no majority was found for an alternative Brexit strategy, despite the fact that the first round was always designed to “see which way the wind was blowing” as opposed to find a clear-cut majority.
It wasn’t the resounding victory that we were hoping might save us from this never-ending Brexit nightmare, but it was a start.
I’ll be honest, I had higher hopes for yesterday. I think many of us did.
However, Parliament failed to find a majority for the second time. Hooray for democracy.
Many learned political commentators, including ITV’s very own stroppy teenager of punditry, Robert Peston, warned that no-deal is now increasingly likely because of yesterday’s results.
No matter how despondent the mood is amongst journalists, however, there is still, still, even at this 11th hour and 59th minute, some cause for optimism.
If you look really hard for it.
So What Happened, Then? Sounds Like It Wasn’t Great.
It wasn’t the best day, no.
Throughout the afternoon, MPs debated the various options that John Bercow, the Speaker of the House, selected. Ultimately they were all defeated.
The options (with voting results as FOR / AGAINST / MAJORITY), were as follows:
- Deal with a Customs Union: 273 / 276 / -3
- Customs Union 2.0 / Norway: 261 / 282 / -21
- Second Referendum: 280 / 292 / -12
- Revoke Article 50 (Cancel Brexit): 191 / 292 / -101
The actual debate was, for the most part, about as exciting as constructing an IKEA flat-pack coffee table. However, much like making anything from IKEA, there were a few surprises thrown in for good measure.
First up, the protestors. In the viewing gallery of the House of Commons, a few guys and gals who were in favour of the entire human race not being burned alive by climate change agreed with Nelly that it was, indeed, getting hot in here. As such, they took off all their clothes (save for some pretty gruesome black thongs, evoking horrifying memories of the attorney-general’s quip about codpieces).
In a rare moment for Parliament, a few well-intentioned, driven people decided to state a case for their firmly-held beliefs in a non-confrontational, self-deprecating manner.
They were all arrested, and normality was resumed.
Two Conservative MPs, Huw Morrison and Ed Vaizey, gave quite remarkable speeches about their disillusionment with their party under May’s stewardship. As usual, Sir Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit Secretary (Labour’s counterpart to the Conservative, silver-haired Pez-dispenser of drivel that is Stephen Barclay), was a strong voice in the discussion.
However, despite everyone’s best efforts, after the votes were counted it was eventually announced that no majority had been found.
In what was a truly commendable moment of someone acting on principle, Nick Boles, the Conservative MP who had been pushing the (admittedly pretty terrible) Customs Union 2.0 model, stated that he had failed due to the fact that his party was unable to compromise.
He stepped down from the party on the spot.
It was an act that deserved respect on a day where a huge number of MPs failed to have the bottle to rebel against their inept and incapable leaders.
OK, So What Did We Actually Learn From Yesterday?
Questions were left unanswered as to why the Labour top brass would refuse to support the Article 50 Revocation Bill. Seeing as it was only ever intended to be used if it was the only option left to defeat a no-deal Brexit, and Labour overwhelmingly voted against a no-deal Brexit, it makes no sense that they wouldn’t then vote to block the very thing they wanted to avoid.
In the debate, we saw yet again that truly impressive and decent Parliamentarians like Starmer, Morrison and Vaizey will always be scuppered by the gaping chasm of leadership from those more powerful than them. The single most depressing thing about Brexit, in this writer’s opinion, is that this is the case on both sides.
Good, decent MPs are resigned to understudy roles on both sides of a Parliament that is crying out for some honesty and real leadership, their voices silenced by the confused authoritarianism of both the Conservative and Labour Parties’ abysmal leaders.
Neither can accept that there is a spectrum of beliefs within their own parties, so they decide to delay any kind of definitive answer to policy questions in the hope that someone else takes the blame.
In case you hadn’t noticed, as a country, we’re not in the best democratic shape right now.
So What Happens Next?
Tomorrow is a bit of a free-for-all. There are rumours that May’s zombified deal might somehow find its way back for a fourth vote, because if you’re going to force satirists to make jokes about your political strategies, you might as well push them onto George Romero jokes.
However, this is not confirmed yet. What is confirmed is that Wednesday will hold more indicative votes based on the findings from today – despite the second inevitable media backlash of how much of a “failure” it has been so far, there are two things worth remembering:
- The smallest loss was by 3 votes, and that was in favour of a customs union;
- The biggest number of votes in favour of any option was for a second referendum.
Today wasn’t a great day for those of us who are desperate to see any form of Brexit resolution happen that isn’t no-deal or revoking Article 50. At this stage, seeing Brexit through in some way that makes at least some people happy would be nothing short of miraculous…
How we get there, however, is anyone’s guess.
We at Between the Lines have had a ball getting it up and running over the last few weeks, but as a small site we currently lack the income to become a more prominent voice in the political landscape.
If you have been enjoying what you are reading, then please do consider giving a monthly donation to our Patreon page, which can be found here: https://www.patreon.com/betweenthelinespolitics
Any donation, whether large or small, would be massively appreciated.
Thank you so much for your generosity in advance!