It’s the ‘day before’, or “D-Day -1” in military parlance, D-Day being the day when Parliament will debate and vote on the various Brexit-wrecking amendments. It’ll be compulsory viewing, so book a place in front of your telly: Parliamentary business starts at 11.30 on the Parliament Channel.
The Tory side of the Wreckers cabal are still piling on. The latest version is certainly interesting, illustrating that these oh-so-clever MPs and ministers seem to have lost touch with reality. The DT (paywalled) reports:
“Theresa May must commit to securing her Brussels deal within just two weeks if she is to avoid resignations over no-deal, Remain ministers have said during a secret conference call. […] A dozen pro-European ministers held a conference call on Sunday night to discuss their approach to a back-bench plan to force the Government to extend Article 50. […] However the ministers agreed they were prepared to effectively delay their rebellion over the amendment if the Prime Minister commits to holding a second meaningful vote within two weeks. Remainers believe this will enable the Prime Minister to try to strike a deal with Brussels while still allowing time for another backbench bid to force the Prime Minister to extend Article 50. One of those on the call said: “We are not accepting jam tomorrow, we need a firm commitment to a date for the second meaningful vote. It would mean that Tuesday isn’t D-Day.” (my bold)
Have we entered Remain Fantasy Land? Surely they must know that there’s no chance of the EU suddenly ‘striking a deal’, within two weeks! Perhaps these ‘secret’ conference calls show that the Brexit Wreckers are not as certain of winning as they would have us believe. We’ll watch it all unfold tomorrow …
While opinion writers seem to’ve become a bit thoughtful at the last minute and while even the hard-line Brexit backbenchers are seemingly getting nervous, I can’t help feeling that the whole lot has become somewhat delusional, drunk on their own ego-trip.
Boris Johnson, writing in the DT (paywalled) how disaster could be averted if May gets rid of the Backstop, has apparently also fallen prey to it:
“I have heard it from the lips of very senior sources in government – speaking with the authority, it is claimed, of the Prime Minister herself – that this country is about to seek proper binding legal change to the current lamentable withdrawal agreement. The PM wants to get rid of the backstop; that is, she wants to change the text so as to insert either a sunset clause or a mechanism for the UK to escape without reference to the EU. If she can change the backstop, […] – and be in no doubt, this means reopening the text of the Treaty itself – then we have defused the booby-trap.[…] This, I am told, is now genuinely the intention of the PM. If that is so, then it is the first piece of unadulterated good Brexit news we have had for a long time.” (my bold)
How … nice! Another ‘secret’ but leaked phone call – another rumour. One might ask: if that’s her ‘intention’ now, why hasn’t she fought for this in the months since Chequers? It’s’ surely a bit late now? BoJo continues:
“Some, of course, will say I am naïve. They will point out that the backstop is not the only defect of the Withdrawal Agreement – and they are right, even if the backstop is by far the worst feature.They will say that we are all being gulled, and that there is a bait-and-switch plan to get MPs to back the deal on the condition that the backstop is removed – and then somehow, alas, it will turn out that this condition was impossible to satisfy; and all we will get, after weeks of talks, is another footling letter of “clarification” from Brussels, when we all know that such assurances are utterly worthless when set beside the legal obligations contained in the Treaty.”
Naive? Or perhaps a bit devious, BoJo? I wonder if this is not another attempt to get the hardline Brexit backbenchers back on track to support May’s WA ‘deal’ – as has been her intention all along. After all, Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg has said he’d support her if the Backstop goes. Perhaps the wreckers are right when they demand ‘no more ‘jam tomorrow’? Should we really be content with rumours about intentions? BoJo concludes:
“If we mean it, if we really try, I have no doubt that the EU will give us the Freedom Clause we need. So now is the time to stiffen the sinews and summon up the blood and get on that trusty BAE 146 and go back to Brussels and get it. And if the PM secures that change – a proper UK-sized perforation in the fabric of the backstop itself – I have no doubt that she will have the whole country full-throatedly behind her.”
Good grief! BoJo certainly has a way with words! This is either just a very clever bit of ‘whistling in the dark’ while engaging in a nice bit of wishful thinking or a last-minute attempt to get everybody behind Ms May’s disastrous WA. Not being naive, I regard this as a desperate attempt to get gullible MPs to back Ms May tomorrow.
Another proposal, by the economist Roger Bootle, is certainly interesting. He writes in the (paywalled) DT, but you can read the gist of it in the re-report in the Express here, where you can also find a brief re-report of David Davis’ article in the DT – paywalled – where Mr Davis warns Labour of the unintended consequences of their wrecking amendments. He writes that these would take control away from Government and damage any government’s ability to govern:
“These MPs are trying to upend centuries of UK constitutional and Parliamentary traditions as they attempt to defy the referendum. This desperate move would fundamentally change the job of Parliament and pit it against the people. The historic convention that Government negotiates, and then once negotiations are over Parliament approves, has stood for hundreds of years. That’s because Government has to lead the negotiations […]”
He uses strong words warning the Remainer MPs:
“Under the Westminster system Her Majesty’s Government controls the Parliamentary agenda. Backbenchers should not arbitrarily be able to take away that power. How does this affect the national interest at a time when the Government is negotiating with the EU? Where does power lie? Who controls the legislative agenda? Who is accountable and how? These are all fundamental questions for our democracy, not playthings for anti-Brexit MPs to tinker with. Some of the present machinations bring our unwritten constitution and Parliamentary system into disrepute. They threaten the viability and integrity of the House of Commons as whole. This must stop, and it must stop now.”
Too late, Mr Davis! Too late because the Brexit hardliners as well as the Wreckers themselves have consistently left out two major factors in their Parliamentary Brexit/Remain fight: the EU, who have shown that they won’t roll over, ever, and the Remain Whitehall Mandarins led by Mr Olly Robbins, who have driven the negotiations by telling Ms May that ‘the EU won’t like it’.
The Brexit wreckers in Parliament, by demanding an extension to Article 50, are doing the EU’s job. Of course, if we stay in the EU, a wrecked Parliament won’t matter – our government and Parliament will be reduced to nodding through EU legislation. We the people might well ask if we need them at all …
Sir John Redwood closes his Diary entry today with this forceful paragraph:
“The public think it is time Parliament got on with it. The majority do not want Parliament to reverse its Brexit legislation and keep us in. The public have spoken. Parliament promised. Parliament must now let us leave. To do otherwise is to go to war with the people.”
There’s nothing to add to that – except wishing for a modern-day Cromwell …