This is extraordinary. This morning, “Brexit” has vanished from the top page of the Brexit-supporting Telegraph, and in RemainCentral, a.k.a The Times, all we find is an article on Ms Rudd’s attitude to Johnson’s leadership bid.
Yesterday, Ms May bypassed the MSM by tweeting her own home-made video – watch it here if you haven’t seen it yet. It was duly reported in articles yesterday afternoon in the MSM (e.g. here, or here, paywalled) and commented on. Today – there’s no punditry.
This is the more extraordinary because today, Oliver Letwin will again ‘take over’ the business of the HoC and the HoL will debate ‘in committee’ the Cooper/Letwin Bill rammed through the HoC last week.
And it is even more extraordinary when we recall that Ms May has to go and grovel before Tusk et al on Wednesday and that her Remain Delegation is still, apparently, in talks with Corbyn, no matter the increasing uproar from Tory grassroots all the way up to MPs not to do it.
So what is going on? Has Ms May issued a D-Notice? Not that that sort of thing still exists, but the MSM can easily decide to drop an issue – a few phone calls amongst editors is all that’s needed …
And what about her video? In it, Ms May defended her talks with Corbyn ‘because people want politicians to work together’. No, dear – that was not a demand for an all-party ‘government’, it was a demand that the politicians who were elected to form the government should work together, without constant backstabbing and blackmail!
The take-home message from that video is this: Ms May will not put her WA to another vote the HoC. She must therefore know it would be defeated again – and therefore she told the incredulous viewers that it’s her deal or No Brexit.
We’re not stupid – we know full well that ‘her deal’ now means whatever the EU is going to gracefully offer her on Wednesday at her grovel-visit.
Moreover – it is clear to me, having watched that video, that she is actually very pleased that the HoC voted to take No Deal off the table: the one way of actually ‘delivering’ Brexit! She no longer needs to even think about that: Parliament said no – well, the HoL surely will agree today to it as well – and that’s that. Unconstitutional? She doesn’t care.
This raises a few interesting questions, such as why did she make the video? Was it to pre-empt the criticism of her cabinet? Or did she want to address the Tory grassroots to get them back in line?
Perhaps she thought this would make all us Brexiteers nod our heads and offer her our support? Or is this now Peak Project Fear: telling us there won’t be any Brexit unless it’s on her detestable terms?
And what of the Tory Party? The MPs? The ERG? Were they totally taken by surprise as the rest of us were? After all, this video went out – as tweet! – in the afternoon, well after all the usual suspects had been punditing in their usual way on the various Sunday TV shows, and just in time for the Boat Race …
Given the dearth of MPs’ articles this morning – usually one or two of either faction have penned something over the weekend – one wonders if they have used last evening and night for some serious plotting, especially as they must have seen the anger from the grassroots they met in their constituencies over the weekend …
Given the experience of the past weeks I doubt however that the particular mountain that is the Tory Party will give birth to something bigger than a cockroach. If I’m wrong I’ll be very pleasantly surprised.
Boris Johnson in his usual Monday column (paywalled, here) goes on about how bad it is to have talks with Corbyn. He bemoans the possibility that May will ‘give’ Corbyn his pound of flesh, the Customs Union, describing how bad staying in the Customs Union would be.
It’s all very emollient – but hey, BoJo: we knew this already! That’s why we want out, with no deal, this Friday. Why didn’t you attack Ms May’s video? Or was your article penned sometime before Sunday?
Meanwhile the redoubtable Martin Howe QC has published an article on that Customs Union where he, unlike BoJo, does not mince words. Writing for ‘Lawyers for Britain’, he respectfully starts with the title “Theresa May caught facing both ways on the customs union” and then goes on the attack:
“Theresa May has been making a habit of saying different things – sometimes diametrically opposite things – to different people in her increasingly strident attempts to bludgeon down resistance against her toxic Withdrawal Agreement. To Remainers she has been saying that voting against her deal will lead to a no-deal exit; while at the same time telling Brexit supporters that voting against her deal will lead to no Brexit, or at least to a long extension.”
“It is this persistent but transparent duplicity – transparent in the sense that a 2-year old child could see through it – which has destroyed the credibility of the Prime Minister and eliminated any trust in her on the part of her country, her Party, or for that matter the EU leaders which whom she tries to negotiate.”
His conclusion is trenchant:
“The real poison in the deal which Theresa May has negotiated with the EU is the legally binding WA and its backstop Protocol with no unilateral exit clause. It makes a deal which is pretty rotten end to end totally unacceptable because we cannot escape from it. For inexplicable reasons, she seems determined to persist in inflicting this unprecedented treaty on the United Kingdom, regardless of the form of the future relationship with the EU.”
I wonder if Ms May was aware of this article when she produced her private video for Twitter … BoJo obviously wasn’t …
The inescapable Sir John Redwood is also close to boiling point in his Diary entry today:
“The government needs to keep its word. From day to day now we do not know what the government is going to say next, nor who in the government is going to push a different line from the Prime Minister. We wait to see what more of our election promises are discarded by the Cabinet. We are on running 3 line whips all this week including Friday in case the government wants to do something. It is clearly making it up as it goes along, and failing to tell the MPs who are meant to support it what the government wants or why.”
It looks to me as if not just Parliament has ‘gone rogue’, but so has the cabinet and so has the PM. So what are you, Sir John Redwood, what are the Brexiteers in the ERG now going to do about it? Dither in the hope some ‘EU deus ex machina’ will come to the rescue? Or hope that somehow the clock will be run down? The Brexiteers in the Tory Party have today and tomorrow to get something done. We’re watching …