Yesterday, I wrote that very little had happened on Monday despite this being the crunch week for Brexit. No advancements in the cross-party talks between the Conservatives and Labour, no definitive answers as to what strategy we might employ like a referendum or election, no discernible clue as to what might happen next…
So Tuesday would surely be the day, right? Finally, the previous three years would come to a head and carnage would ensue.
The House of Commons would finally descend into an all-out fight to death. Theresa May would beat Jacob Rees-Mogg to death with his own briefcase. Corbyn would be stabbed 42 times by his own backbenchers (“et tu, Watson?”). John Bercow, jaunty tie wrapped around his head like Rambo’s bandana, would cry “ORDERRR” as he bludgeoned as many MPs to death as possible with the House’s ceremonial mace.
Something had to happen, surely? Everything has been building up to this. Remember: there’s less than three days to go until we leave with no deal if the EU don’t grant us an extension. Surely this would be, at long last, the final battle. Let’s Game of Thrones this shit – Winter is here, bitches..
No fire, no brimstone. No fury, no crumbling House of Commons. No doomsday. No apocalypse.
Just Theresa May, and I write this as incredulously as you might read it, acting in a forward-thinking, responsible way.
WHAT IS HAPPENING?! THIS ISN’T BREXIT!
Where’s The Destruction I Was Promised?!
Hang on, hang on… it may happen yet, we’re only just starting hump day. There’s plenty of time left.
In the meantime, however, things have actually become quite sensible. From the people that matter, at least.
Theresa May did a short tour of Europe yesterday ahead of today’s meeting of the European Council, where they will either deny (highly unlikely) or grant (please sweet Jesus please) the UK a long extension. She met with Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron, the German and French leaders, to discuss today’s meeting and make sure that everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet. It was welcomed by Merkel and Macron, as it allowed them to have an open discussion with May ahead of the meeting tomorrow.
The last time she appeared before the European Commission, lest we forget, she did so badly that Macron started the night thinking she had a 10% chance of passing her withdrawal agreement, then after hearing her speak reduced that chance to 5%.
It was a sensible, rational and productive idea to ensure tomorrow goes as smoothly as possible. As such, Donald Tusk (the European Commission President) has written a letter to the leaders of the 27 member states asking them to grant a long, flexible extension to the UK:
- For no longer than a year;
- With an option to leave before then if the UK agrees on a form of Brexit;
- So long as the UK will hold elections for the European Parliament in June if they haven’t left before then…
- And promise to behave themselves if we remain a part of the EU until it leaves (i.e. not vote down budget plans, any major pieces of strategic legislation etc.).
Additionally, even though there are clearly some major stumbling blocks in the way, the cross-party talks between the Tories and Labour have continued to try to find a way out of this impasse. The rhetoric around the talks has been guarded and not entirely optimistic, but has at least had a tone of pragmatism – if a deal can be found, then both sides sound as though they are really trying as hard as they can to find it.
So far, so sensible, right? Tomorrow might actually end up being something of a formality rather than a tense, nervous affair – the EU grants us an extension, we use the time to find a rational new approach to Brexit either through consensus or otherwise, bish bash bosh, we walk off into the sunset.
We’re not entirely happy as a nation, but we’re a damn sight happier than we might have been.
Good Lord. So Everyone’s Actually Acting Like Adults, Now?
It’s hard to convey how deeply I sighed when I began to write the answer to this.
No, they’re not.
First of all, a vote was held in Parliament on the Cooper Bill that passed into law yesterday – the one that gave May a legal obligation to extend Article 50 rather than crash out with no deal on Friday. The vote was basically a further expression of Parliamentary will rather than anything binding, admittedly, but even so, the fact that 97 Conservative MPs voted against the idea of extending Article 50 in favour of no deal is absolutely staggering.
By which I mean it is, by any conceivable definition of ‘entirely’, entirely fucking moronic. No-deal has been voted down by Parliament, is almost unanimously considered to be the economic equivalent of hacking your leg off after you stub your toe, and is representative of a total collapse in the ability of our elected representatives to rule properly.
Yet nearly 100 MPs voted in favour of it.
Then you add in Mark Francois, ERG attack-dog (by which I mean overly-aggressive terrier) and proudly ex-Territorial Army, and his statement yesterday.
Holy shit, what a statement.
"If you now try to hold us in against our will, you will be facing Perfidious Albion on speed."
Conservative Brexiteer Mark Francois says the UK "will become a Trojan horse within the EU" if Theresa May is given a Brexit extension. pic.twitter.com/KiulbKoBCP
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) April 9, 2019
So we’re clear, this is the definition of perfidious:
“Deceitful and untrustworthy.”
Sounds about right, from what we’ve seen so far.
While there are definite concerns about the EU trying to become more involved in the workings of its member states and trying to overextend its reach, one fact does stand out:
The British, as a prominent EU member, have constantly fought back against such ideas, and other EU states thank them for doing so. We have the power to stop this already, yet are voting ourselves out of that very position of power.
Which is what Mark Francois wants. The man with a French name is desperate to stop French-led EU integration, despite the fact that we are already doing it.
This odious fuckwit has, unfortunately, become a widely-recognised face of Brexit – a misinformed, self-aggrandising, General Melchett-wannabe vision of mansplaining made flesh.
And he is not the only one.
Sadly, despite the progress we seem to be making, it seems as though there are still a number of prominent politicians who absolutely refuse to listen to fact, common sense or responsibility to the public and instead chase a damaging pipe dream to further their own careers.
We can only hope that one day, when an inquest into this fiasco is held, they will be held to account.
So It’s Not Exactly Sunshine and Rainbows?
No. When May comes back with another extension offer on Thursday, and indeed at PMQs tomorrow, the far-right lunatics of her party will do their best to eviscerate her.
However, one promising concept is that if the ERG and their more cretinous wing (the “headbangers”, as the media calls them) try to topple May and come up short (again – they tried once already in December) then they might finally, finally, be confined to the loony bin at the fringes of political discussion.
Or they might take power. This is Brexit, after all.
For now, at least, we move on to tomorrow. With, for the first time in what seems like a lifetime, genuine optimism.
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