The Brexit battle front
The Brexit Betrayal is gathering pace. Today the HoC will vote on an early GE which may even come to pass, thanks to a crafty ‘Plan’ by the LibDems, supported by the SNP. The EU will decide on granting an extension until January 31st which may turn out to be some ‘flexitension’. Yes, Macron has caved, as expected. We did warn that it would be futile to put one’s hopes of getting Out on Halloween on a foreign leader!
While this GE looks to be inevitable now, Labour MPs are plotting against their leader Corbyn and his henchpersons. When even Lord Mandelson raises a warning about McDonnell’s policies, writing in the paywalled Times, all is not well in the ‘Red’ corner. There’s another warning: the election result in the German province Thuringia. More on that below.
Today the HoC will again provide us with the now addictive political spectacle. Here is the Order Paper for Business in the Chamber today. The shenanigans start at 3.30pm. This is when we’ll find out if and how No 10 has taken up that proposal by the Libdems, to ‘allow’ a vote to take place on Dec 10th – a date when students are still around to use their two votes, one at Uni and one at home … You can watch Ms Swinson explain it here.
We’ll have to wait until this afternoon to see how No 10 will play this. Will they go for the FTPA vote first and get defeated and then introduce the Swinson Bill and get that GE, or will they go straight for the Swinson Bill? That might depend on the EU coming out with their extension offer today:
“EU ambassadors are preparing to sign off an extension to January 31 after President Macron of France gave up his demand for a shorter delay. It leaves Mr Johnson with a narrow set of options as MPs are expected to reject an attempt to call an election for December 12 in return for more parliamentary time to pass his Brexit legislation.” (link, paywalled)
This is the pound of flesh Swinson and the SNP expect to extract from No 10 for their ‘support’:
“Yesterday Downing Street suggested that Mr Johnson could work with the Liberal Democrats and the SNP on an alternative route to a December election via a change to the act that would require a simple majority, which could be achieved without Labour. Jo Swinson, the Lib Dem leader, and Ian Blackford, the SNP leader at Westminster, are proposing an election on December 9 but only if Mr Johnson gives up trying to get his Brexit deal through first.” (link, paywalled)
This means in effect that No 10 must not even try and put that vassalage treaty back on the HoC agenda before the GE. Of course, that would benefit the Remain Libdems in their election campaign. They are positioning themselves as the Party to stop Brexit altogether.
Labour meanwhile is in acute disarray, with Corbyn apparently still believing he can force a 2nd referendum while the hard left are fighting each other inside his party for ‘plum’ seats, or even trying to get rid of Corbyn altogether, see here. At the same time Lord Mandelson, his ‘concern’ being rather transparent, warns:
“But many suspect that the Labour leadership are less interested in Attlee than in positioning the party against Tony Blair. That instead of moving Britain forward, with new ideas and utilising the opportunities that digital technology and AI, for example, offer us to transform the economy and public services, a Corbyn/McDonnell government wants instead to reassert the old statist mindset that New Labour disavowed. I would be very happy to see the power of globalised capitalism blunted and out-of-touch management shaken up — but not if corporate power is replaced by ill-equipped civil servants and a new generation of trade union barons.” (link, paywalled)
Thank you for pointing this out, Lord Mandelson! The image Labour will try to present at a GE should be interesting. The Tories meanwhile seem to think that their election strategy promises success:
“If he [Johnson] gets his way, all the indications suggest that he will frame his campaign around a “people vs parliament” narrative. For such a campaign to have the best chance of succeeding, Boris Johnson needs large numbers of the public, and Brexit supporters in particular, to register what he is trying to do with Brexit and how the Commons is responding.” (link, paywalled)
Writing before the Swinson Gimmick came out, Paul Goodman (here) says that the electorate would reward Johnson because they see him doing his best to “deliver” Brexit, especially if he brings that WAIB back to the House. Well, maybe – but the Swinson Gimmick will have closed that avenue. One final twist in this desperate play for a GE – not for Brexit, you understand! – is this:
“Ministers are pinning their hopes on the election of a new Speaker to force Britain to the polls. John Bercow retires this Thursday, the day that Britain was supposed to leave the EU. The government believes his successor will be much less likely to allow backbenchers to seize control of the order paper again to pass legislation to prevent a no-deal Brexit.” (link, paywalled)
Yes, well – if they believe the Remain HoC will vote for an impartial Speaker rather than for the ‘continuity’ one – a certain Ms Harman – then they are hopelessly naive. Perhaps Bercow might even rescind his decision and will cling to his seat because Brexit hasn’t been ‘delivered’. And we Leavers are supposed to support those ‘ministers’ in a coming GE? Why would we, given our past experiences!
And now – Germany! In an election in the province Thuringia yesterday the AfD became the second-largest party, after the Left who have their roots in the former East German communist party. Reports are here and here. I note in passing that being a ‘populist’ party of the Left is fine, but to be condemned if it’s ‘right-wing’.
The point is that the two main establishment parties, the SDP, similar to Labour, and Ms Merkel’s CDU, similar to the Tories, have been resoundingly rejected, with the SDP now below 10%. The warning for our establishment party bosses is that, if your party does no longer represent your core voters they will find an alternative and won’t be daunted by the now common, vituperative labels.
The warning for the Tories especially is that by refusing to ally themselves with TBP they’re onto a vote loser, especially since No 10 hasn’t and isn’t ‘delivering’ Brexit. The unmissable Sir John Redwood, warning of ‘splintering the vote’, is nevertheless right when he points out in his Diary this morning:
“What we want instead is an election to try to change the personnel of Parliament. The gap between what this Parliament wants about Brexit and want voters want is too great. Worse still, many MPs were elected to see Brexit through only to go back on their word and do everything in their power to delay or prevent Brexit.” (link)
However, given that the candidates of the establishment parties will most likely be the same old faces who’ve not implemented our wish, such hoped-for change of personnel is unlikely to occur.
Voters are not daft. We’ve all watched the goings-on in the HoC with growing disbelief and increasing cynicism. A hung parliament will be the MPs’ fault, thanks to their intransigence. Moreover, this time round, with Labour in the state they’re in, the cry ‘vote TPB and get Corbyn’ won’t work any longer. It will be ‘vote Tory and get Corbyn or Swinson’, as the last by-elections have shown.
I’ll leave you with an unbelievable turn-around on Brexit by none other than Tony Blair. He now thinks (here) that Brexit won’t be such a bad thing after all …! File that under ‘you couldn’t make it up’.
Remember that the only ‘cunning plan’ which will now work for No 10 is to have us out on Thursday with No Deal. But also remember at all times: ‘don’t put your trust in princes’!