I am genuinely worried about Theresa May.
Whether or not you agree with her on a political level (and, to be fair, you’re currently in a very small group if you do), over the course of her premiership Tezza has gone from looking like that auntie who lives with three cats in a very pink house to looking like a half-eaten turkey twizzler left next to a bin.
She’s clearly exhausted, deeply saddened by the catastrophe of her leadership and can count her number of allies on her fingers. And yet, despite overwhelming odds, she’s still fighting. It’s like watching a pigeon attacking a horse, but she’s still fighting.
Eventually though, she will run out of steam and this sad spectacle will come to an end. The mantle will be passed onto someone else. Boris, maybe.
Yesterday was a big step towards that happening.
So What Was This “New Deal” About, Then?
It was May’s last chance at getting her Brexit deal through. The one that has died three deaths already, one being the biggest ever defeat on a Bill being put to Parliament.
Basically, May tried to attach lots of shiny little gifts onto it to try and persuade MPs from across the House to vote for it. In my mind, I picture it like a string of fairy-lights draped over some roadkill.
She tried to win over Labour MPs by promising that workers’ rights and environmental protection laws would match the EU’s after we leave, ending freedom of movement and also allowing a vote on a permanent customs union. None of these have been enough to gain Labour support.
She tried to win over Conservative and DUP MPs by promising to find alternative arrangements to the backstop, or a promise to “stay aligned” with Northern Ireland if the backstop comes into play (i.e. we wouldn’t abandon Northern Ireland to become part of the EU). Neither of these have been enough to gain Conservative support.
Finally, she tried to win over Remain-supporting MPs by promising a vote on a second referendum should her deal be passed at the second reading (the first Parliamentary vote on new legislation). NB, this is not a promise of a second referendum – it is a promise of a vote in Parliament to allow one, which could happen without her approval anyway. As such, it hasn’t been enough to gain Remainer support.
In fact, the whole thing has done the exact opposite of what it was supposed to do – rather than entice MPs to see the promises she’s made to them, they’ve seen the promises she’s made to their enemies instead. Views have hardened against May overnight.
She was already up Shit Creek without a paddle. Now she’s managed to set fire to the boat.
Yeesh. So What Comes Next?
Well, she announced all this in a speech yesterday, and will set it out to the actual House of Commons today. It’ll probably go about as well as combining a wolf sanctuary with a petting zoo.
The level of dismay and anger on show from her supposed allies in the Conservative Party about the “new” deal, as well as the outright rejection of it from the DUP and Labour, means that she may actually be encouraged to kill the deal herself before it’s even put to a vote.
However, a sense of duty might mean that she rolls the dice anyway, because with a vote could come some amendments, tabled by MPs, that might include a second referendum or some means of finding a way out of this mess.
If she does decide to pull the vote, then it would probably mean curtains for May, at long last. The 1922 Committee has rejected calls from the Tory backbenchers to change their rules and force May out over the last few weeks – this time, she might not be so lucky.
Alternatively, she might keep on being “lucky” and remain in the job for a while longer. This is unlikely, as rumours have come out from her inner circle that she admits that her deal failing would leave her with no options left, but she’s already stuck around far longer than anyone thought she would.
And The Elections Tomorrow?
Ah yes, that.
It goes without saying, but please, for whatever party:
GO OUT AND VOTE.
Democracy doesn’t work when good people don’t take part in it. By reading this twaddle, you’re already more committed to politics than the average joe. Tomorrow’s elections are incredibly important in defining our future relationship with the EU – go and become a part of history.
Between the Lines will be back with analysis on the results later this week. After a month of little happening, the Brexit chaos will begin anew.
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