Now that our dear Prime Minister has come back from paying her respects to the journalist shot dead in Belfast, she must concentrate on her problems in the House of Commons.
There is talk of her bringing the WA back to Parliament for a fourth time. But will Speaker Bercow allow it? After all, the rules say the same question can’t be asked twice. I would imagine he faced a lot of pressure before he allowed it to come back to MPs a third time. Will he capitulate again?
If he does allow it to be put again, is it likely to be passed? There is certainly some tedium creeping into the members of the House of Commons, as there is in the country. Many of them just ‘want to get on with it’ and have it finished one way or the other.
I’d like to think MPs are a sturdy lot and stick up for what they believe in, but perhaps that is being a bit naïve. For sure, there are quite a few who are prepared to continue to vote against the capitulation within the WA (how does Mrs May get away with assuring the House and the country that it is a good deal for the UK when it obviously is not?). MPs like Sir John Redwood and Sir Bill Cash should be applauded for their stoic resistance to the deal.
There are others like Jacob Rees-Mogg, for whom I had such great hopes but who we now find would be prepared to sell his soul to the devil. After this has all died down, I expect an announcement that he has been appointed to a cosy and lucrative little post somewhere.
Because of the huge yet dwindling majority at the first three times the WA was presented to the house, I would imagine there is a very hard rump of members of both parties who would not vote for it under any circumstances.
So Mrs May’s only hope is to persuade Jeremy Corbyn to instruct his members to vote for it. What has government come to when a Prime Minister can’t get a law through the House of Commons using her own party and has to go cap-in-hand to the Leader of the Opposition?
Corbyn, of course, knows this. He has got her over a barrel, which is why the talks are going on so long. He can demand anything he wants in the knowledge that she is desperate. She’s holding out at the moment, but so is he. Will they ever reach a consensus? If they do, you can bet it’ll be a sell-out for the Conservative Party.
But what if May considers his demands to be beyond the pale? What if they both refuse to budge and the talks break down? What are her options then? She would be a fool to bring the WA back to the House without Corbyn’s agreement, so I would imagine that’s out of the window.
So we’ll go into next week’s local elections, and the Tories will be slaughtered. May must know this; she’s not an idiot. She will have been studying the polls and will realise that even if the local elections have very little to do with Brexit, grassroots Tories are pig-sick of what she’s doing.
She’s going to lose several councils to Labour, others to no overall control and I suggest Independents have a fighting chance. There’ll be voters who have voted the same way all their lives but would never vote for their party again. But they wouldn’t vote for the opposition party in a month of Sundays. Who do they vote for? They might just stay at home; I suggest the turnout will be remarkably low.
But May isn’t worried about the locals. All she cares about is her place in Downing Street – which is precisely why she won’t call a General Election. She knows full well that she’d have to move out because the Tories won’t win the majority of seats, although I think Labour will do badly as well. Corbyn is no leader.
May isn’t concerned about the EU elections either, for the same reason. Let all the Brexiteers like Farage win the seats! There’ll be chaos in Brussels, but it won’t be her problem.
But if she has failed to have her WA approved in Parliament, what’s her next step? She could go for a second referendum, despite saying over and over again that she wouldn’t (remember “We’ll be leaving on 29 March 2019”?). That would take several months to organise and we can imagine the question will be loaded. If, having ignored the result of the last referendum, she goes down that route, how will the British public be able to trust anything she says ever again?
She could do nothing and leave the EU without a deal by default on May 22nd but although there are lots of us who would welcome that, at heart, she is a Remainer and thus unlikely to let that happen.
She could resign – and the peoples’ favourite at the moment is Boris Johnson, who would certainly see to it that we left the bloc on WTO rules. However, the leader/Prime Minister is chosen by the Parliamentary party and they are mostly Remainers. They will do their best to ensure Boris doesn’t get into the top spot, despite the prospect of his leading the party to electoral success.
She could ask Brussels for a renegotiation of the Withdrawal Agreement, although Barnier and co have said time and time again that it simply won’t happen.
There could be a no confidence vote in the Government which, if passed, would give May just 14 days to persuade enough MPs to vote for her in a second no confidence vote. If she lost the second vote there would be a General Election which many Tory MPs would want to avoid.
There could be a censure vote against the Prime Minister. If that were passed, although that would be humiliating for her, it would not necessarily force her to resign.
Alternatively, the government could decide to cancel Brexit altogether, although that would plunge the country into constitutional chaos. That may be the answer, and I would vote for it on the grounds that we the people could eventually get a Brexiteer into No.10 who would take us out without all this fuss.
However this situation pans out, both the country and the House of Commons seem to be polarised: one side fervently in favour of Brexit and the other side wanting to stay in the EU. I suggest that eventually, we will see two groups, each comprising current MPs from both the left and the right. This has already started with the launch of Change UK, a party that wants anything but change! MPs of all hues have joined the party whose specific aim is to stop the Brexit procedure and stay in the EU.
And Farage’s Brexit Party has received support from both Tories like Ann Widdecombe and Labour Brexiteers. When these two factions come face to face, there will be a constitutional battle like we have never seen before.