It’s not just Johnson’s deal which is in Limbo or Purgatory, depending on your favouring the Speaker’s or Jacob Rees-Mogg’s interpretation – Brexit is as well. So are, it would seem, the MSM’s political correspondents here at home and in Brussels.
Their main, overarching theme today is “The Split”. This has infected Cabinet, it has infected the Tory Party, it has infected the Labour Party and it has infected Brussels. And it’s now only about a GE and how ‘that’ extension will affect it. So let’s start at the top which is of course the EU because our politicians here at home have become incapable of deciding or doing anything without ‘instructions’!
There was a meeting of EU ‘ambassadors’ yesterday, to trash out what the EU leaders will decide. It’s no longer about ‘granting’ an extension, it’s about the length of the same. Proposals reach from 15 days until the 15th of November to 30 days to three months or even longer. Yesterday’s ambassadors’ meeting came to no decision. They will meet again tomorrow, with a summit of EU Leaders possibly being called for Sunday or Monday:
“EU27 ambassadors will meet in Brussels on Friday for more talks after a meeting to ascertain the mood of leaders last night. The decision on whether to grant the extension by writing or with a summit is likely to be announced then. […] An EU source said all the ambassadors agreed on the need for an extension to avoid a no deal Brexit.”(paywalled link)
We’re back to EU-Brexit gossip then, and here’s the EU ‘split’:
“President Macron is pushing for a short [extension], to November 15. This would, in effect, tell the Commons that they have to choose between a no-deal Brexit, Mr Johnson’s deal, or revoking Article 50 and cancelling Brexit altogether. It would also foreclose the option of a fresh vote in the form of an election or a referendum, which would require an extension beyond January 31. However, this hardline position is not shared by Angela Merkel, who favours an extension in line with the Benn act until January 31; a view shared by Leo Varadkar and Donald Tusk. Under this plan the UK could leave the EU earlier if it ratifies the deal.” link, paywalled).
It doesn’t take a political genius to predict that Macron will cave in to Ms Merkel again and that the split will be papered over by the EU going for a ‘compromise’, i.e. a ‘flexitension’ where we could leave before that deadline of January 31st if Johnson’s deal is ratified. I expect the usual parliamentary quislings to travel urgently to meet Macron and Tusk to push for as long an extension as possible!
As the EU seems to favour a GE to be held during that extension, let’s turn our eyes to the splits here at home. First of all there’s the split in Cabinet, with gossip about Cummings as the most important item. He is alleged to have hit the cabinet table with his fist, shouting ‘No’ – obviously he must now be sacked! Or so the MSM remainers hope …
Yesterday, Johnson and Corbyn met to talk about tabling a new Programme Motion, to get the Deal confirmed in a 3rd reading – something that should have happened today. Corbyn wasn’t playing ball:
“Talks between Mr Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn and their aides over a new timetable to get a deal through the Commons descended into acrimony yesterday. During the meeting Mr Johnson is said to have asked how long it would take Labour to agree a new programme motion. Nick Brown, Labour’s chief whip, told him it could be done “quickly” only for Dominic Cummings, Mr Johnson’s most senior adviser, to intervene and say “no” and push instead for a general election. […] Mr Cummings suggested that the French would veto any Brexit delay, to which Mr Brown responded by claiming that the French were “taking the mickey”.”(link, paywalled)
I would like to know who leaked these delicious titbits … ! “Sources”, well-placed or otherwise (have they spoken to Larry the Chief Mouser?) insist that there’s no split in the Cabinet:
“Reports of a split within Downing Street are incorrect, according to well-placed sources. “We just don’t see it,” said one No 10 insider of alleged tension between Mr Johnson’s two senior advisers, Sir Ed Lister and Mr Cummings. The leadership team is united over the basic elements of the strategy: that this parliament will never pass Brexit and any extension is essentially pointless, so only an election can move the country forward. Mr Johnson is said to be “resolute” in his determination to carry it through to its logical conclusion.” (link, paywalled)
The split in Cabinet seems to be about when to hold that election:
“Number 10 is undoubtedly split over whether an election should be held before Brexit has been delivered or after a deal has been passed through both Houses of Parliament. […] Yet with chief of staff Sir Eddie Lister lobbying for a deal first, election second approach, with even Brexiteer cabinet ministers like Andrea Leadsom and Theresa Villiers in support, the Prime Minister is coming under increasing pressure to abandon the purist people versus parliament snap election campaign advocated by Cummings and his Vote Leave cohort.” (paywalled link)
The next quote shows the sort of language being used – apparently and allegedly – at the Cabinet table (I think that ‘well-placed source’ has to be Larry):
“According to one well-placed source: “The PM understands the need to get MPs onside, keep parliament together and maintain the consent of colleagues. Dom just thinks: **** em all. He is convinced that an immediate general election will result in a big majority for the Tories and massive losses for those MPs who have tried to block Brexit. He focus groups all the time so he’s in tune with the public but not remotely in tune with parliament.” (paywalled link)
Good to know that there’s one person ‘in tune’ with us, the public! Note that it’s not the MPs.
What about the Labour split then? Half of his MPs want a referendum first, not a GE and then there are those awkward polls …:
“Labour’s whips have told Mr Corbyn that if he did back an early election, which would require a two-thirds majority of MPs, as many as 140 out of Labour’s 245 MPs could vote against him, BBC 2’s Newsnight reported. One party source said they believed 140 to be a conservative estimate of the number of Labour MPs who did not want an election without either a Brexit deal or a referendum first.” (link, paywalled)
Backing an early election means implementing the FTPA. Here is a rather astonishing article in RemainCentral published this morning:
“Boris Johnson could make a third attempt to trigger a general election as early as today, it is understood. The prime minister is preparing to challenge Jeremy Corbyn to send voters to the polls as soon as another Article 50 extension has been granted by the European Union, a decision that is expected tomorrow. He is likely to lay a motion under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act [FTPA] either tonight or on Monday that would force MPs to decide before the October 31 deadline whether to allow an election.” (link, paywalled)
Huh? Who is it that ‘understood’ this? A “source’? It’s been picked up in the DM (here) where they coyly refer to ‘The Times’ without providing even a link! Never mind that neither Johnson nor Corbyn nor ‘sources’ nor indeed we know what sort of extension our ‘friends and allies in the EU’ will grant us, but if ‘sources’ say so it must be true! Perhaps though the reporters mightn’t have talked with Larry, Chief Mouser, but with Dilyn, Chief Puppy who can of course not be expected to have learned how to talk to reporters with finesse, leading them astray.
By now you will have noticed that one element in these split-infested scenarios has been missing: us, the voters. We’ve been put back right into our box, expected to keep our mouths shut, to be wheeled out when an election comes, and let our ‘betters’ make the decisions for us.
You will also have noticed that Brexit has become an irrelevancy in this political game. Forget the pious words Remain Harlots shouted in the recent debates, about how this is the most important decision in our country for centuries and must therefore be debated to death before it can happen: smoke and mirrors, dear friends, smoke and mirrors!
Time to write to your MPs again and let them know that we’re watching, that we’ve not gone away and that we will present our reckoning in the coming GE.