(William Hogarth: ‘The Rake’s Progress’. A visit to a lunatic asylum)
I’ve made no secret of my opinion that I think the vast majority of our MPs are somewhat intellectually challenged. I’ve made no secret of my opinion that the PM and her Cabinet are bereft of political instinct, political insight and political nous. I’ve made no secret of my opinion that whatever the PM has ‘produced’ in regard to Brexit has been concocted and scripted for her by her Whitehell handlers, scripts which she follows to their letter.
Today’s ‘news’ coming from The Bunker, ahem: Downing Street, confirm my opinion. The PM’s and Mr Corbyn’s delegates were meeting again yesterday afternoon, to hatch out yet another way to get the PM’s WA through the HoC. Again, they went away with no result.
That cannot have been unexpected because we knew that the Tories would not contemplate a 2nd Referendum – well, not at the moment anyway, but who knows what’ll happen next week – whereas Labour was adamant that a 2nd Referendum would have to be in that ‘agreement’, else they would not support the PM’s WA.
What the PM and her dwindling number of supporters have come up with next is beyond belief. It’s now only about ‘saving the PM’, ‘saving the Tory Party’ and forget about Labour – see the reports here and here, and the paywalled ones here and here.
Just looking at the official statements as reported in the MSM makes my blood boil! It’s ‘PR speak’, desperately attempting to ‘sell’ the same old “product”, the WA, by giving it a slightly different ‘brand image’ and giving the MPs a slightly different way of playing with it. Let this sink in:
“Theresa May is moving towards holding a series of “definitive votes” on different Brexit options in a bid to break the impasse if compromise talks with Labour break down. The Prime Minister is expected to ask MPs to rank different Brexit outcomes in order of preference under the plan which will be activated if the two sides cannot strike an agreement. […] A Brexit compromise deal with Labour remains No 10’s “Plan A” but should talks collapse then ministers will move onto their “Plan B” of offering MPs votes on alternatives.” (paywalled link)
Here’s the quote from The Times, showing that Leave and Remain Tories are both at it:
“Remain cabinet ministers want her to construct a compromise deal through a series of “definitive votes”. Brexiteers favour bringing in parts of the Brexit implementation legislation, paving the way for another attempt to remove the Irish backstop from the deal.” (link, paywalled)
This is what the PM’s government has reduced itself to! Ask the HoC to come up with their own list of ‘favourite versions’ of the WA, just like a marketing questionnaire about a new product to be launched: did you like the cherry flavour, or did you like the raspberries better? In the end, it’ll be the same old WA, a flavour nobody actually likes but which is the ‘least offensive’ …
This is modern politics! Everybody can tick a box and never mind that in the end you won’t get what you really want:
“The Government will aim to agree with Labour on a list of Brexit options which MPs would be asked to vote on in a bid to ensure the process commands the support of a majority in the House of Commons. But on Monday it became clear that ministers would proceed with the “definitive votes” even if Labour does not agree the terms.”(paywalled link)
I do wonder if it was the aim of the PM and her Whitehell handlers to use these ‘talks’ with Labour in order to show up the Opposition front bench as inept and useless so as to make her own front bench look better.
While I’m certain the PM herself isn’t capable of such machiavellian strategy, I am equally certain that her top adviser, the one who has told her what to do since her time at the Home Office (that’s Sir Mark Sedwill to you and me) is most certainly capable of it.
See how this latest attempt to get Whitehell’s WA across the line is explained:
“MPs held a series of so-called “indicative votes” earlier this year but they failed to result in any one Brexit option securing a majority. The Government is expected to guard against a repeat of that outcome if it turns to its “Plan B” by using some form of alternative voting system. MPs could be asked to rank different options in order of preference and if no single way forward secures a majority in the first round of voting, the option which has finished last would then be eliminated and all of its second-placed votes would be re-allocated. The process would then be repeated round-by-round until one option prevails with a majority. The options could include a customs union-based Brexit, the Norway model, no-deal, a second-referendum or Remain.” (paywalled link)
You’ll have noticed that the option of leaving without a ‘deal’, on WTO terms, isn’t to be thought of. This is how one of the oh-so-clever cabinet ministers explains it:
“James Brokenshire, the Communities Secretary, on Monday outlined the approach the Government would take: “The Prime Minister has been very clear that if we’re unable to find that space of compromise then the next step would be to go back to Parliament. To have almost, not a series of indicative votes, but actually a series of definitive votes to seek to get to a place of where that sense of where Parliament is, to be able to pass the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, to be able to have that vote to see that we leave – that’s the next stage, that would be the next phase.” (paywalled link)
Did Mr Brokenshire actually understand what he was saying? Is this really a ‘clear statement of intent’? Or isn’t it an indication of the confusion pervading cabinet? Perhaps this’ll help:
“A Government source said: “The difference between indicative votes and what we’re looking at is that with indicative votes people just went and said ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on everything.We’re looking at some way of finding a winner.” The result of the “definitive votes” would not be legally binding but would show what a majority of MPs could support and therefore pave the way towards a Brexit resolution.” (paywalled link)
Strewth! They’re ‘looking for a winner’ – is this now a horse race? Did nobody ask what good a not legally binding vote for ‘a winner’ is? Perhaps it’s just another clever way by Whitehell of kicking the can down the road.
Btw – don’t think life for the Opposition is a bed of roses. Labour MPs are panicking because of the looming disaster which are the EP elections and the projected success of TBP:
“Jeremy Corbyn was attacked by his own MPs on Monday night over Labour’s Brexit policy and warned that the party was “haemorrhaging” support and risked handing victory to Nigel Farage in the European elections. The Labour leader was told that the party would be punished at the polls in 10 days’ time unless he caved in to Remainer MPs and provided a clear commitment to a second referendum.” (paywalled link)
Apparently, Labour has not understood that this will split the Labour vote as much as the talks with Labour are splitting the Tory vote. According to the DM (here) some are even asking if Corbyn is actually ‘Prime Minister material’ …
It is fair to say that madness now reigns on both sides of the HoC. Why they cannot honour our decision on June 23rd 2016 defies any attempt at explanation. Why the Whitehell mandarins are incapable of recognising that they’ve dug the deepest hole for themselves, for the government and for the opposition, I simply cannot understand. It definitely has a teutonic flavour …
Do they not realise that, with both main parties split for all of the electorate to see, a possible GE on the back of the expected victory of TBP in the EP elections will inevitably mean that ‘business as usual’ in Parliament and Government will be over for good?