Dear readers – I was wrong. I was wrong when I wrote on Saturday that we had reached Peak Remain Hysteria. Given the performances on yesterday’s TV shows and the latest news today, we’re still not “At Peak”.
Amidst the mud-slinging, Labour made their position clear: get Corbyn into No 10 – Brexit, soft, hard or at all doesn’t matter as long as they can force a GE. The institutionalised antisemitism in Labour? Don’t worry, it’ll be dealt with … by getting rid of those who complain about it. Meanwhile John McDonnell revealed Labour’s plan to keep us in the Customs Union forever. That’s something which the EU is very happy with – they would be, wouldn’t they! (see here)
While Peter Oborne in the DM accuses Tory Brexiteers (we all know who they are) of ‘amoral blackmail to force Ms May out of No 10’ – it’s now blackmail to insist on fulfilling the Manifesto pledge on which she and indeed the majority of MPs were elected! – the actual blackmail perpetrated by Mr Phil Hammond, never mind the EU, goes unmentioned.
Thus, the EU is telling us that, should Parliament vote for an extension, Brussels will demand a cool extra £1 Billion per month for as long as we stay in, on top of the £39 Billion (here and here, paywalled) while Mr Hammond will say in his budget statement that voting for Ms May’s WA means an ‘end of austerity’, with an extra £20bn from him (paywalled here). If that’s not a clever piece of blackmail to get MPs to drag Ms May’s WA through tomorrow’s vote in the HC then I dunno …
There’s more drama afoot though. ‘Negotiators’ have been ‘negotiating’ in Brussels over the weekend, and an RAF plane is on standby to whisk Ms May to Brussels today should there be a ‘breakthrough’:
“Mrs May spent her weekend frantically phoning European leaders and her own backbench MPs to beg them for help. […] Downing Street said it remained a possibility that Mrs May could fly to Brussels on Monday morning to agree new terms if a compromise was found by officials overnight. However Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, spent Sunday in Dublin watching the Six Nations rugby match between Ireland and France […] (link, paywalled)
Two other issues are agitating the MSM. One is that Ms May could delay voting again, the other is that she could be made to resign.
The Times (here, paywalled), relaying on ‘sources’, writes:
“Theresa May has been urged by senior Conservative MPs to pull tomorrow’s meaningful vote on her Brexit deal if she fails to secure significant concessions from Brussels. In phone calls with Downing Street, leading Tories in the Commons warned that the prime minister could face another three-figure defeat if she went ahead with her plan. They have advised her to halt the vote and replace it with a motion setting out the kind of Brexit deal that would be acceptable to Tory MPs to keep the party together and put pressure on Brussels.” (my bold)
Their proposal couldn’t show more clearly how they are clutching at straws:
“Under the plan, instead of holding a meaningful vote tomorrow, the government would lay a conditional motion setting out terms that might be acceptable to parliament to deal with the Irish backstop issue. Those who support the plan say it would send a message to the EU about the kind of deal that might get a parliamentary majority.” (paywalled link)
Another ‘plan’! Are they imbeciles? Have they still not heard that the EU’s answer will be ‘No’? They are like cockroaches scuttling around in the light as they want to keep their valued food source, their ‘job’ as MPs.
This brings us to the other issue: the possible ousting of Ms May. Now that is, so far, nothing more than a valid threat for the near future, so don’t open the champagne quite yet. Making Ms May go hinges on tomorrow’s and Wednesday’s votes:
“Senior Conservative MPs have told Theresa May that her position will be untenable if parliament forces her to extend the Article 50 process this week. In a series of meetings with government whips, Brexiteer Tories have warned Downing Street that the prime minister will face renewed pressure to quit if she is made to ask for extra time from Brussels. Others have suggested that they would be prepared to compromise and back her deal if she wins limited concessions but only if she states her intention to go as soon as the deal is signed.” (link, paywalled)
Still, it’s not too desperate yet for May/Remain supporters – she’s got wriggle room:
“Other MPs said that if Mrs May undertook to resign as soon as her deal passed that could persuade some Tories to back it. “The danger is if she gets the deal through Remain supporters will try and keep her in office,” one said. “If she committed to going straight away we’d know for certain we’d have someone else at the helm at the start of the trade talks.” (paywalled link)
Wishful thinking of Tory MPs keen to keep their cushy jobs? You may very well think so … I think it is a possible horror-scenario: Ms May’s WA will get the nod, she leaves – but we are in the EU as vassal state in perpetuity.
Let’s look at what an extension would actually mean. Labour, clever (not!) people that they are, seem to think such extension will give them what they want: a GE, a 2nd referendum, and of course the abolition of our Leave Vote. Their fixation on these issue show that they also haven’t got a clue about Brussels and Barnier:
“Sources said Britain would be expected to pay another £13.5 billion per year, more than the current £9bn, because the UK would lose its rebate negotiated by Margaret Thatcher. Even a delay of three months would add billions to the cost of the divorce payment. During any Article 50 extension period, Britain would also lose its seat at the table for laws that are being made in Europe, and which could affect a future trade deal. And Emmanuel Macron, the French President, has hinted that he would push for the UK to stay in a customs union with the EU, saying recently that he would only accept an extension if Britain accepted a “new choice”.(link, paywalled)
Ah – M Macron … does Corbyn, does Keith Starmer, does Mr McDonnell actually know who is behind this Macron ‘proposal’? None other than dear old Tony Blair:
“Sources in Paris confirmed to The Telegraph that Mr Blair had been speaking to the French President about Brexit. He is reported to have told Mr Macron to “hold firm” and wait for events to play out in London that end in Britain staying in the EU.” (paywalled link)
Oh Tony Toneee … As Peter Bone says:
“It is totally unacceptable for a former prime minister to go around the heads of European countries and undermine the Government’s position. I’m not sure we could find another time in modern history when this has happened.” (same link).
Precisely. If you wanted more proof for the contempt shown to us by Blair, by Labour, by squirming Tory Remainers, never mind Barnier, Brussels and the EU – there it is.
We’ll see how today unfolds. Keep your seat booked for tomorrow’s spectacle in the HoC. Meanwhile:
18 days to Brexit – KBO!