Absolutely unbelievable! Yesterday the HoC voted for the Cooper/Letwin Amendment which was passed with 502 to 20, meaning that Ms May’s Brexit-trainwreck schedule is on track, and not one of our MSM opinion makers – Remain or Leave, no difference – have raised their heads above the parapet this morning, telling us plebs what this means for Brexit! Instead we get stuff on ‘Tory Rebels’:
“More than 100 Tory MPs have rebelled against the Government as Eurosceptics refused to back Theresa May’s plans to give the Commons a vote on extending Article 50. The Government imposed a three-line whip on an amendment tabled by Yvette Cooper, a Labour MP, which enshrined the Prime Minister’s commitment to give MPs a vote delaying Brexit if a deal cannot be reached. However 20 hardline Eurosceptic Tory MPs voted against the amendment including Esther McVey, former work and pensions secretary. A further 88 predominantly Eurosceptic Tory MPs abstained including Boris Johnson, the former foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, the former Brexit secretary and Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leading Eurosceptic Tory MP.“ (paywalled link, my bold)
What we got instead is Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg everywhere, video clips of his interviews everywhere, all about his support – or not – for Ms May’s BRINO Deal. Having previously denounced Ms May’s deal as abomination, he certainly has now managed to confuse everybody, e.g. here:
“Jacob Rees-Mogg says that if Mrs May can secure ‘necessary assurances’ on the controversial backstop to prevent a hard border in Ireland in the event of No Deal, ‘I would be delighted to support her deal and help avoid any delay to Brexit.’ Mr Rees-Mogg, chairman of the European Research Group of Leave MPs, insists he will take a ‘practical and not a theological attitude’ towards next month’s crunch vote on the deal […]”
For a taste of how bizarre JRM’s explanations have become, see this:
“Mr Rees-Mogg said he “could live” with a “de facto” removal of the backstop in the form of an “appendix”, which would clarify that the UK cannot be trapped in the arrangement indefinitely. The “appendix”, similar to a legal codicil, would clarify that the backstop, a so-called ‘insurance mechanism’ designed to keep the Irish border open after Brexit, cannot be permanent. Crucially, however, it would not need to be inserted into the treaty, which Brussels has insisted cannot be renegotiated. […] “I can live with the de facto removal of the backstop, even if it is not de jure, […] I mean that if there is a clear date that says the backstop ends, and that that is in the text of the treaty, or equivalent to the text of the treaty.” (paywalled link, my bold)
How has the abominable WA now become acceptable? Remember – it hasn’t been renegotiated! And does he really believe the EU would not contest such ‘appendix’? I do hope some of the more clued-up Brexit lawyers can set him right! At least, according to this article in Brexit Central, the ERG have ‘assembled a panel of lawyers’ to check if that ‘appendix’ is feasible, the eminent Martin Howe QC being one of them. The rest are all MPs, so while they may be experts, one wonders if Party Politics will cloud their expertise.
JRM made that same point in this article (here):
“The senior backbencher suggested that his 80-strong European Research Group (ERG) of MPs might accept an “appendix” to be attached to her Withdrawal Agreement setting out legal guarantees that the UK will not be indefinitely trapped in a customs union with the EU. Mr Rees-Mogg insisted that the appendix must have “equal” legal force to the original 585-page document setting out the agreement. He also indicated is willingness to accept a possible three-month delay to Brexit in the hope of getting a better deal.” (my bold)
The truly interesting item here is that in the video clip accompanying that article JRM makes a remark which seems to have been disregarded by the combined commentariat of the clever MSM – only Westmonster picked it up:
“Brexiteer MP Jacob Rees-Mogg has sounded the alarm over a potential delay to Brexit beyond 29th March, saying: “My suspicion is that any delay to Brexit is a plot to stop Brexit. This would be the most grievous error that politicians could commit.” (my bold)
Those of you who read the “YOUR DAILY BREXIT BETRAYAL” will immediately recollect that I made this point in yesterday’s column … So JRM and, one hopes, his ERG colleagues must also be aware of this problem.
That raises the question: why do they not shout it from the rooftops? Why do they give the impression that Ms May’s WA deal will be acceptable, provided the Backstop is dealt with? They themselves have spoken and written at length about that pernicious WA and why it must be rejected, Backstop or not. What has changed? Why does JRM suddenly seem to think a three-month extension wouldn’t be so bad, when the EU is patently unwilling to give such short extension, with M Macron insisting on a two-year long one (here)?
Is JRM thinking out loud, overthinking his arguments, being too clever by half? Or is he simply feeding the MSM titbits because, en coulisse, he and his ERG colleagues know the WA deal will pass, somehow, because, as Peter Bone MP apparently let this slip:
“Theresa May would resign as Prime Minister rather than accept Brexit being delayed, via the Article 50 exit mechanism being extended” (here)
and where would that leave the Government and the Tory Party? It looks again like ‘Party before Country’.
I don’t know if that was a threat by Mr Bone or speculation. I do know that the Brexit debate has now turned into an exercise of reading tea leaves regarding the inner workings of the Tory and Labour Party. I sometimes feel like the Kremlinologists of olden days who tried to find out what really went on in the Soviet Polit-Bureau by scanning arcane reports in arcane local pronouncements …
So this is where we are today – and all I can say is: keep rattling the cages of your MPs, local party chairmen and all Remainers wherever you see them. Read the inimitable Sir John Redwood’s Diary today and use the points he makes.
Above all, channel your inner Churchill and KBO!