It’s the weekend after a turbulent week, and MSM and MPs seem to have gone for a chillaxing weekend. But this calm is deceptive. We know that Ms May is working hard on her ‘Plan B’ which she will present to the House on Monday. We know that the Tory backbencher Nick Boles has ‘a plan’ which he is touting up and down the MSM:
‘His proposed Private Members’ Bill – the EU Withdrawal (Number 2) Bill – aims to put MPs in control of the Brexit process. It demands an extension to the Article 50 process to allow negotiations to continue beyond exit day – March 29.’ (source).
His interview on the BBC is illuminating:
“A Tory MP who has put forward a plan to block a no-deal Brexit says ministers have told him they will quit, if they are ordered to vote against it. […] Mr Boles told the BBC his bill had a “broad base” of support from different sides of the Brexit debate. And he said he believed a number of ministers backed his plan. But he believes his constituency party in Grantham and Stamford is looking to oust him as a candidate at the next election. Asked if he thought local members would de-select him, the Tory backbencher told Nick Robinson’s Political Thinking podcast: “I think if they were asked to now they probably would.“ (my bold)
So he knows the opinion of his constituency and the country – but is going to go ahead anyway. Contemptuous of us or what!
As indication of how Ms May will aim to get her way It’s interesting to hear how she and her Whitehall handler have treated her Cabinet colleagues both at the Chequers Meeting which led to the resignation of David Davis – hard to believe this was only six months ago! – and regarding the infamous WA. Former Minister Esther McVey described this at the LML Rally, reported in this article which I urge you all to read.
A fascinating proposal comes from Charles Moore in today’s DT:
“How foolish of ministers to talk about blocking John Bercow’s peerage when he retires as Speaker. They should fast-forward it. By Monday morning, Mr Bercow should be out of the Speaker’s chair before he can do any more damage to the constitution, comfortably relocated in “another place”, clad in ermine. My other candidate for instant ennoblement is Philip Hammond. As Lord Runnymede and Weybridge, he would, I am sure, make a notable contribution to their Lordships’ debates on the reform of accounting practices. As Chancellor, however, he is working flat out to frustrate Government policy, which remains, despite everything, Brexit.”(my bold)
I heartily support this – but will Ms May listen?
Even more fascinating are the reports from the EU. One cannot help but think that an advanced state of schizophrenia is prevailing in Brussels. Having told us that there would be nothing to negotiate anyway, they are nevertheless aghast that no new proposals have come as yet from 10 Downing Street. Here is for example a report in the DM, copied mostly from the article in the DT, written by the arch-remainer Peter Foster: ‘Theresa May leaves diplomats in ‘disbelief’ after presenting EU leaders with unchanged Brexit demands’. I’ll quote at length from this report since it’s behind a paywall:
“Theresa May has left European diplomats in a state of “disbelief” following a series of phone calls to EU leaders in which she made no change to her demands despite her Brexit plan being voted down by a 230-vote margin this week. Senior EU diplomatic sources said that Mrs May’s unchanged stance was “greeted with incredulity” following a call with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday night. “It was the same old story – the same set of demands – all unchanged despite the defeat,” said the source with knowledge of the calls. Mrs May is understood to have repeated the same performance in conversations with the French president Emmanuel Macron, the Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte and the Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, provoking what one source called “diplomatic eye-rolling” in Brussels.”
Doesn’t that illustrate wonderfully that and how our ‘friends’ in the EU still have understood nothing about the reason for her defeat in the HoC? The report continues:
“Mrs May’s demands are understood to still centre around either a legally binding time-limit for the Irish backstop; a right for the UK to withdraw unilaterally, or a hard commitment to finalising a trade deal before 2021 to avoid the backstop coming into force. These demands were firmly rejected by the EU at the European Council summit in December after leaders expressed doubts that they would be sufficient to get the deal over the line in Westminster.”
And doesn’t this attitude of the EU Leaders reinforce the impression that they regard themselves and indeed the EU as being above the mechanisms of democratic decisions? Anyone who remembers the Soviet Union will surely recognise certain parallels. There’s more:
“In the aftermath of Tuesday’s massive Commons defeat senior Brussels diplomats congratulated themselves that they had been vindicated, viewing the rejection as confirmation that the problems with the deal went far beyond tinkering with the so-called ‘backstop’. Sources said that Martin Selmayr, the EU’s top civil servant who is now running the EU’s ‘no deal’ planning operation made a self-congratulatory presentation at a meeting of EU ambassadors on Wednesday saying the EU had been right not to grant concessions.” (my bold)
That really tells you all you need to know about how any new ‘negotiations’ will go, extended Article 50 or not! Finally:
“[…] her decision to plough on, apparently undeterred by the rejection, has now led EU diplomats to conclude that Mrs May is still “playing for time” and believes a version of her deal – with a concession on the backstop – will eventually go through Parliament. It seems clear she is still ‘running down the clock,” the EU source, “She is still staking everything on the DUP and ERG. To coin a phrase, ‘nothing has changed”.” (my bold)
Why that should astonish EU ‘diplomats’ defies comprehension. Indeed – nothing has changed: not the dictatorial intransigence of the EU nor their utterly inexplicable obtuseness in regard to how our British democracy works – which, btw, just reinforces our determination to Leave.
Here’s a possible scenario: while Ms May presents her ‘Plan B’ to the House on Monday, tearfully explaining that she’s worked hard but the bad EU won’t understand her, her backbenchers will provide and promote the ‘only’ solution: an extension to Article 50 as proposed by Mr Boles. We don’t know yet if Mr Grieve will also present a ‘Plan’. The ERG are allegedly poised to do so as well. Meanwhile second-class EU personnel is rolled out to hint that such extension would be accepted (here).
This then is the outlook for next week: given the customary ‘Non’ from the EU in regard to the Backstop, given their and our Remainers’ fond expectations that an extension to Article 50 is what is needed, our remain MSM and MPs will promote this extension to the hilt next week, in preparation for the HoC debate on Tuesday the 29th of January.
Until then – write to your MP’s constituency chairs and demand the Remain MPs to be deselected now. Who do they think they are – wannabe-Boles?