My goodness – for once the MSM would have been justified to write “Brexit Bombshell” headlines, but today they refrained! How odd …
This is what happened: yesterday in the late afternoon the Speaker of the HoC ruled that the government, i.e. Ms May, cannot ask for a MVIII – that ‘meaningful vote’ she needed to get her diabolical WA through the HoC, not after it had been voted down twice (see all my previous ‘Daily Brexit’ articles archived here). Mr Bercow applied the precedent ruling that the same motion cannot be brought to the House more than once during the same Parliamentary session unless it’s ‘substantially changed’.
Ms May was going to present the WA again to the House today, hoping to get it through after lots of arm-twisting and bullying en coulisse. The aim was to present it to the EU Council on Thursday, thus achieving a ‘short extension’.
During yesterday morning we heard of ‘Hardcore Brexiteers’ caving in, and, with astonishment, of Ms May’s latest ‘sweetener’ for her ‘rebels’: the ‘sacking of Olly Robbins’ if only they voted for her WA. This was another fudge though because Mr Robbins was due for a move inside Whitehall anyway …
Then there were the febrile ‘negotiations’ a.k.a ‘rank bribery’ (e.g. here, paywalled) to get the DUP on board.
And then the Speaker detonated his ‘bomb’ … and all ‘play’ stopped.
No matter what you think of him – e.g. “Brexit destroyer” here, or other choice descriptions in outraged comments here, here and here – he was within his rights because there was and is no substantial change to Ms May’s WA.
The effect of this ‘Brexit bomb’ on the government, the HoC, the ERG and especially the MSM was like poking a stick into an antheap. Alternatively, one can compare their reactions to a whole farmyard full of headless chickens flapping about …
Nobody knows what will happen next, but everybody has an opinion. The one most MSM pundits are agreed on is that this is a constitutional crisis (here and paywalled here). Opinions as to what this means range from ‘shattering blow to the PM’ to ‘sabotaging Ms May’s attempt to rescue her WA’.
Pundits seem to agree that Ms May would now have to ask Brussels for a ‘long extension’. Again, as I’ve pointed out previously, our MPs and indeed the Speaker seem to be oblivious of that ‘player’ sitting opposite that table, the EU. Perhaps they believe that, given the well-demonstrated intransigence of Brussels, the Speaker’s bomb will give the EU the incentive of keeping us in forever:
“Chris Heaton-Harris, a minister in the Department for Exiting the EU, predicted in a message to Tory MPs that it was “game over” for Brexit as a long delay will mean Britain never leaves. (link, paywalled)
Another ‘government source’ concurs:
“[It] seems clear that the Speaker’s motive here is to rule out a [meaningful vote] this week, which also stands in the way of securing a shorter extension,” the source said. “That leads you to believe what he really wants is a longer extension, where parliament will take over the process and force a softer form of Brexit. But anyone who thinks that this makes no-deal more likely is mistaken — the Speaker would not have done it if it did.” (paywalled source)
So what the heck does this mean for us, for Brexit? Will we leave on the 29th of March without a deal, as we peasants demand and voted for or not? Some seem to think so:
“EU leaders have previously warned that they will not grant an extension unless Britain comes up with new ideas, meaning a no deal Brexit remains possible. Some Brexiteers said Britain must now end the uncertainty by leaving with no deal next week.” (link, paywalled)
Is Nigel Farage right who said this on his LBC show yesterday, after ‘that bomb’:
“Has a no deal Brexit got a bit more likely? It has! A lot is going to rest you know on this summit on Thursday. If they say we do not want an extension, we have had enough of your games, just get thee gone, and it only needs one of the other 27 to do that and there will be no extension. Then Parliament would face the ultimate choice. In the days leading up to March 29, are they going to get us out on the current legislation or revoke and stop Brexit completely? I think there would be such catastrophic implications for Parliament if they did that.” (link)
However, reports from Brussels seem to contradict this (paywalled, here):
“Brussels politicians and officials are angry and dismayed at the latest obstacle thrown in the way of the ratification of the Brexit withdrawal treaty. […] In the event that Britain has not passed the withdrawal agreement by the end of next week, the EU will use a special procedure, if European leaders agree on Thursday, to allow a “long extension” to Brexit “within hours of midnight” on March 29.”
‘Special procedure’, is it? To be applied after we’ve left? Is the Brexit date a total sham then? Is this the long-prepared stitch-up, concocted by Olly Robbins and M Barnier? Would this ‘special procedure’ have been applied anyway? We should be told!
Facilitating a ‘long extension’ aimed at achieving a GE and a 2nd referendum is also much to the EU’s liking, even if it means that we will have to run elections to the new EU Parliament. And lo and behold, our Remain Civil Service is already preparing for that:
“The Cabinet Office has stepped up plans for Britain to take part in this year’s European parliamentary elections. […] Legislation cancelling Britain’s participation in the elections comes into effect only after Brexit day. With that all-but certain to be delayed, taking part in the polls, which would cost about £110 million, could become a legal necessity both in UK and EU law.” (paywalled source)
How quickly can the Remain Civil serpents be out of the blocs when it’s about stopping Brexit! (In an aside, today another ‘anonymous civil servant has written about the Remain Culture in Whitehall, here is a summary.)
Finally, sigh, what are the ‘hardcore Brexiteers’ saying and doing? Well, there could be mayhem:
“According to The Sun, 20 core members of the European Research Group (ERG) will carry “vote strikes” which could bring Mrs May’s minority Government to its knees if she takes her Brexit deal to a second In/Out referendum.” (link)
Meanwhile, the inimitable, incomparable Sir John Redwood has some pointed remarks for Remainers in his diary entry today. He concludes:
“I do not see why the UK would seek an extension to Article 50. So far Ministers have been unable to come up with any plausible reason why the EU should grant us an extension.”
Ah – but we all know that these Ministers and indeed the whole Remain Whitehall gang have one reason which has been the standard reply for over 40 years: “The EU won’t like it” …
As for us peasants: no rest for the wicked! Keep writing to your MPs and to the papers!
10 days to Brexit – we must stand firm.