I’m happy to tell you that yesterday’s attempt by Corbyn and the combined Remainers of LibLabCon to thwart the next PM’s attempts to keep ‘No Deal’ Brexit on the table was defeated. Reports (not paywalled) are here and here. The result was 309 Noes to 298 Ayes.
You can find the list of Tories voting with Corbyn’s lot here – interestingly there are many comment posters calling that the whip be withdrawn from those Tory ‘rebels’, which would also mean they could not vote in the forthcoming Leadership election.
Of course this doesn’t mean the Grieves and Letwins are now giving up. Interestingly, they seem to have rushed to RemainCentral, The Times to complain and sketch out their next attempts:
“A former Tory cabinet minister has threatened to bring down the government in a confidence vote if the next prime minister tries to force a no-deal Brexit against the wishes of MPs. […] Dominic Grieve, the former attorney-general, who was among the Tory rebels, said he would be willing to back a vote of no confidence in his own side rather than allow a no-deal Brexit.” (link, paywalled)
Here is Sir Keith Starmer for Labour:
“Speaking after the motion had been defeated, Labour said it would try to find alternative parliamentary routes to achieve the same effect. Sir Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, said: “This is a disappointing, narrow defeat. But this is just the start, not the end of our efforts to block no deal.” (link, paywalled)
I do not know what it is that makes these Remainers so keen to trash every tradition and unwritten constitutional rule, to trash democracy itself just to stay in the EU. It seems like a sickness. It is not rational.
You have to savour the words of Mr Grieve to get the feel of what pure arrogance sounds like:
“Addressing colleagues in the House of Commons, the former frontbencher (Dominic Grieve, former Attorney General) said: “Throughout this unhappy business of Brexit, what I’ve certainly tried to do is try to ensure that there is a process which avoids chaos. The only alternative, if we get to a point where the Prime Minister is intent on doing this, the only way of stopping that Prime Minister would be to bring down that Prime Minister’s Government. I simply have to say, here and now, I will not hesitate to do that if that is what is attempted. Even if it means my resigning the whip and leaving the party, I will not allow this country to be taken out of the EU on a no deal Brexit without the approval of this House and, in my view, going back to the country and asking that if that is what they want.” (link)
Words absolutely fail me! Grieve ‘won’t allow it’! What arrogance! Sadly, he’s not the only one. Sir Oliver Letwin let the cat out of the bag as well:
“Another Tory, Sir Oliver Letwin, said he was concerned that a future Tory leader could suspend parliament to prevent it having a final say. “They [a future prime minister] don’t need to go to the lengths of prorogation, in fact they don’t need to do anything,” he said. “If they do nothing, if they introduce nothing before the House of Commons, which gives the House of Commons an opportunity for such a vote, the House of Commons will not, in the absence of this motion and what follows it, have any such opportunity.” (link, paywalled)
Yes indeed – we know that, and this is perfectly all right, even welcomed by us Leavers. But just as Mr Grieve Sir Oliver Letwin doesn’t give a toss for democracy. Perhaps that’s why they are so keen to Remain in that model of democracy, the EU.
Sir Bill Cash put the finger on the major fault in this motion:
“The Eurosceptic MP Sir Bill Cash described yesterday’s move as “a phantom motion about a phantom bill”, warning that MPs were being asked to vote for something that they had not seen. He said that it allowed for “any bill of any kind to take precedence over government business”. He asked supporters of the motion to announce what legislation they intended to bring forward, something they declined to do.” (link, paywalled)
I guess they didn’t know what they wanted to do in any case. It was only about getting this shiny bauble, to be able to thwart whichever PM will follow Ms May, to prevent him from getting us Out.
The final word on this ‘phantom motion’ must go to the unsurpassed Sir John Redwood who writes in his Diary this morning:
“It is good news that this time Parliament recoiled from allowing those MPs most hostile to our exit from the EU to take control of the Order paper. If they did so they would undermine the UK’s negotiating position further, humiliate our country again internationally, and thwart the clear wishes of the British people by refusing to implement the Brexit we voted for.”
For them, it’s not about our negotiating position, about our international standing. It’s only about their own egos, to look good as Remainer in the eyes of Brussels.
They may also have been aware of BoJo’s attitude to getting us out on Halloween. In his campaign launch he was rather ‘diplomatic’ (a.k.a. slithery), to the extent that some (myself included) assumed he’d abandoned the No Deal option just to garner the votes of the Remain Tory MPs in his attempt to follow Ms May.
However, it seems that privately he has been very careful to keep all options on the table, even the nuclear one of prorogation of Parliament:
“Boris Johnson has privately assured senior Brexiteers that he will leave open the option of suspending parliament to force through a no-deal exit from the European Union, The Times has been told. The frontrunner to become the next leader of the Conservative Party has repeatedly voiced his opposition to the highly controversial move at hustings as he seeks to attract support from all wings of the party. He told MPs that he was “strongly not attracted to” the option at an event after the official launch of his campaign yesterday.” (link, paywalled)
It’s delicious to note that the ‘sources’ in the various campaign groups are now flowing freely – not to keep us informed but mostly to discredit the competition:
“The former foreign secretary was said, however, to have privately assured the hard-Brexit European Research Group (ERG) of backbenchers that he would not explicitly rule it out. […] “He’s told the ERG he won’t take prorogation off the table and that he’s signed up to their plan for a ‘managed no-deal’,” a source on another campaign said. A senior Brexiteer confirmed last night that Mr Johnson had discussed the option of suspending parliament at a private meeting late last week. Another said: “I didn’t hear him rule it out.” Pressed yesterday on whether Mr Johnson would take prorogation off the table, his spokesman declined to go further than repeat the candidate’s previous claim that he was “instinctively averse” to the option.” (link, paywalled)
So there we are: everything on the table or under it, explicitly or implicitly, and the Tory Leadership candidates promoting themselves all over the place. Fun and games for the next few weeks are guaranteed, but we can apparently hazard a guess as to who the two candidates will be who our real ‘government’, the Whitehall Mandarins, believes will make it to the final grassroot stage:
“Britain’s most senior civil servant is facing accusations of picking favourites to succeed Theresa May after it emerged that he had held talks only with Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, the frontrunners in the race. Sir Mark Sedwill, the cabinet secretary, has had informal conversations with Mr Johnson about his plans for government should he be elected. He has also held similar discussions with Mr Hunt, the foreign secretary. The Times understands that other candidates have had no contact from Sir Mark, leading to claims that he is choosing winners before a series of votes by Tory MPs that will narrow the candidates down to the final two. In particular he has not had any contact with Dominic Raab, the other main Brexiteer in the race, or held discussions with Michael Gove, the environment secretary.” (link, paywalled)
Forgive me for sniggering! Candidates, especially Brexit Candidates, wanting to have chats with the arch Remainer Sir Mark Sedwill? You couldn’t make it up!
Meanwhile, the actual Tory ‘rebels’ who sided with Corbyn must be shamed and their constituency parties must be told to deselect them. You know what to do, and so, as always: