The waves of excitement after ‘that’ debate in the HoC are subsiding and the actual obstacles in the Brexit negotiations are now becoming visible again. And what a surprise: it’s the same old same old, as Ms May has to present her ‘New Deal’ to Parliament on Monday, 13th February with the HoC debating it – with more amendments, of course – on Tuesday 14th February. So be prepared to go through the whole exercise again: of claims and counter-claims, of MPs and “experts” posturing, of more ‘Project Fear’, more proposals and more inner-party shenanigans. What joy!
We saw yesterday (see here) that the EU went immediately into the usual ‘njet’ mode, but our own side is as static as the EU. Ms May and her Remain supporters meanwhile have a cunning plan to get her horrible WA deal through Parliament – by trying to buy votes of Labour MPs (here):
“Theresa May will persuade Labour MPs to back her Brexit deal by offering money for their constituencies, it has been claimed. The PM’s plan would reportedly offer cash injections for deprived areas which backed Brexit in the 2016 referendum.”
It might even work because Mr Corbyn’s Brexit attitude is to let May-hem reign, even in his own Party, so as to be able to blame everything on the Tories and thus win the next GE he so craves. Never forget: this is not about Brexit and working to get the best for the country – it’s about party politics, with Ego before Party, Country coming a very far third …
Meanwhile in the Tory Party … and it’s the same old same old here as well. Ministers threatening to resign again? Yes indeed: because the EU has already rejected to negotiate – see here. Frankly, I can’t make head nor tails of this reasoning, unless it’s about grasping the limelight – do help me out if you can!
Far more important is the fact that Ms May, after ‘winning’ on Tuesday, is shredding the promise she made to Tory Brexit MPs, of changing the negotiating team. Apparently she assured them that two ‘seasoned’ negotiators would be added to the team – and now it’s all a ‘misunderstanding’:
“Leading Brexiteers claimed they had received assurances from Downing Street that two seasoned trade negotiators would be brought in to bolster the UK’s team in Brussels. But they reacted angrily after No10 said the line-up of officials would not change. Mrs May has said attempts to win concessions from the EU would be led by herself and three leading ministers. Eurosceptic MPs want the UK’s Permanent Representative to the UN and WTO in Geneva, Julian Braithwaite, and Crawford Falconer, a seasoned trade negotiator based in the International Trade department, to be brought in.
One MP said Mrs May’s chief of staff, Gavin Barwell, told members of the European Research Group of Brexiteers ahead of Tuesday’s crunch vote, that Mr Falconer would be installed. Others suggested Mrs May herself had hinted at such a move at a meeting with backbenchers. Last night one Downing Street source blamed a ‘misunderstanding’. Speaking to reporters after Prime Minister’s Questions, Mrs May’s spokesman said: ‘The Civil Service team, which is led by Olly Robbins, remains the same.’ (source).
So let that sink in: the same lot who gave us the WA and the Backstop are now going to get rid of it and get better terms from the EU … If it weren’t so serious one would have to laugh about the obvious ineptitude prevailing at the top of our government – not just because of keeping that ‘team’ but because of the bad faith with which they treat their own backbenchers. It’s skulduggery on a grand scale to protect Ego which, repeat after me, comes before Party and Country.
According to The Times (paywalled) Mr Robbins is said to be given ‘a less prominent role’ – oh really? Let’s watch out for the proverbial flying porcines … One who was there, Steve Baker MP, described how May’s ‘Team Robbins’ sidelined the DexEU ministry at yesterday’s European scrutiny committee meeting – watch it here. And we should believe that now everything will be different? Leopards and changing spots come to mind …
Meanwhile some Brexiteers are putting their hopes on a last-minute cave-in by the EU, based on reports that the Polish PM said the EU should be more flexible, see e.g. here or here. Anyone who has watched the EU in action will know that this is no more than a pious wish – the Poles are not in the EU’s good books. However, this report (paywalled) from the Times EU correspondent hints that a last-minute cave-in might indeed be on the cards:
“Angela Merkel will “go to the edge of the precipice” with Theresa May as the European Union prepares to reject any change to the withdrawal agreement in time for a crucial vote in two weeks. Diplomatic sources said the German chancellor believed that people needed “to look into the abyss before a deal is done at five to midnight — that is how she works”. The next summit at which European leaders could agree any changes to the agreement or an extension to the negotiating period to avoid no deal is on March 21, only eight days before Britain is due to leave the EU.”
We all know by now that Ms Merkel determines how the EU cookie crumbles. So the outlook for the next two weeks at least is: ‘no change’ – not from the EU, not from Ms May, not from our posturing Remainers. And the clock keeps ticking …
We Brexiteers will have to work harder, from that Rees-Mogg group down to us peasants. So keep writing to your MPs – we know that they love to say “my constituents” when they pose in the HoC.
Keep on rallying, in front of Parliament and in your constituencies. And keep talking to your friend and neighbours – that’s how we won the Referendum!