End Game?

Posted on 6th March, 2019

Steve Bray of SODEM outside No.10 (copyright Christine Chittock)




















1) Labour official policy is to propose/support a second referendum on the Brexit deal with an option to remain, now that their alternative proposals (a sort of Norway/Unicorn mash-up) have been rejected by Parliament. Is everyone singing off the same hymn sheet? We shall see.

2) Theresa May, with her now almost unfailing ability to see off a rebellion in the making, promised on Tuesday to hold another meaningful vote on her Brexit deal on 12 March. If that fails to pass, MPs will be given a vote on leaving with no deal and, if that also fails, on extending article 50 beyond the 29 March departure deadline. It is also possible/probable (?) that the Meaningful Vote will be amended so that it gets passed only subject to ratification in a Public Vote with the option to remain.  There could be quite a scrap to get Remain on the ballot paper. May will wheel out the Will of the People rot again and say her deal or no deal...it's dangerous, but we hope Parliament will see through her games.

3) Yvette Cooper was, understandably, unwilling to take Theresa May's promised sequece of votes on trust. Her amendment, holding May to her promise re the extension, passed with a thumping majority. Anne-Marie Morris MP (Newton Abbot) was one of 20 ERG MPs to vote against. She, it seems, would relish no deal and the pain it would cause.

4) We now know for sure that, whatever May says, we are in now way prepared for a No-Deal crash out. The summary document Anna Soubry managed to secure seeks to blame business for failing to spend a small fortune on preparations for a self-inflicted catastrophe. Only 40,000 of 240.000 businesses who deal extensively with the EU have registered for customs formalities. Who can blame them? May's blackmail Brexit needs to be seen clearly for what it is. We remain outraged by the refusal to take it off the table. Regarding the extension, the EU have always made it clear that there would have to be a very good reason - another vote or a GE - for an extension to be granted. Macron has stressed that again today. No more can-kicking.

5) There was one ray of sunshine that actually reached the House: Alberto Costa's amendment went through 'on the nod.  It calls on the government toimplement the part of the withdrawal agreement that includes citizens’ rights at “the earliest opportunity” regardless of the outcome of negotiations. 

So what happens next? There are rumours that her deal will come back to Parliament next week and that the ERG will back it, thus removing the obligation for votes on No Deal and extension. We are not out of the woods, yet, and must keep up the pressure. May's Withdrawal Agreement is, effectively, a blind Brexit and if the ERG got their hands on it, could turn very nasty indeedAND the possibility of crashing out 'by accident' remains. That must not be allowed to happen. Fortunately, there are 'woke' MPs who can see the traps and will take steps to avoid them. 

We have to keep up the pressure on MPs for a public ratification vote and that means they must support any amendment to make acceptance of May's deal conditional on the public giving their informed consent. Keep writing. It works! 

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