During the week just gone Brexit/Remain news, opinions, ‘solutions’ and speculations were proliferating so fast that it was hard to keep up. Now it’s the weekend ‘before’ – before the Brexit ‘crunch’ Tuesday when the HoC will debate and vote on the various amendments proposed by various Remainers, especially that “Yvette-Cooper-Bill” – and all is quiet.
Our politicians have vanished to their homes in their constituencies – provided they do have a home there. And as MPs have fallen silent, our dear journalists and MSM editors have had to grub about for Brexit News. It’s as if a slew of D-Notices had been issued: nothing to see here and if there were, don’t mention it! So: thank God for The Queen and her little speech to the WI! More on that below.
There is however a rather interesting article by the Labour MP Caroline Flint who asks in the DT (paywalled): “Why won’t MPs take Remain off the table?”. What a good question! She writes:
“The public simply don’t trust the MPs who are asking for no-deal to be taken off the table to then get on and deliver Brexit in any sort of form. If we were to take Remain off the table too, we would have far more trust and support.”
and continues with the observation that an extension of Article 50 to Dec 31st 2019 (Cooper Bill) simply cannot work:
“That would mean contesting the European Parliament elections in May, three years after we voted to leave. Imagine how that will go down with voters. And what is the purpose of a nine-month delay? More talks? Hardly. The EU shuts down for elections in April; it also shuts down for the summer, only reappointing Commissioners in October. Slim hope of much negotiating before Christmas.”
Odd, isn’t it, how this fact isn’t mentioned in the debates … as if we might notice that it’s really about keeping us in the EU, indefinitely.
The main news however in the MSM – it even made it into one German paper – is the Queen, who said a few words at her local WI meeting celebrating the 100-year jubilee of the WI:
“As we look for new answers in the modern age, I for one prefer the tried and tested recipes, like speaking well of each other and respecting different points of view; coming together to seek out the common ground; and never losing sight of the bigger picture. To me, these approaches are timeless, and I commend them to everyone.” (my bold)
Leavers and Remainers both welcomed this statement because the Queen obviously must have meant the other side …
Charles Moore in the DT (paywalled) observes:
“She is encouraging people to work out what does and doesn’t matter in any disagreement, and to remember that all “new answers” need agreement to work. If one does this, one starts to see that there is common ground, though not on Brexit itself. It lies in what Her Majesty calls the “tried and tested recipes”, the way we do things in this country. In this, it should make no difference whether one is Leave or Remain. The way we do things in Britain is that Parliament invites us to decide certain important matters and is then morally bound to act on our decision.”
Jacob Rees-Mogg points out a simple fact, easily overlooked by our modern, historically and intellectually challenged Westminster-Bubble-Dwellers:
“Constitutionally, the Queen can only speak on the advice of her ministers and could not have said this without the agreement of the government. This is not the Queen’s point of view; it is Her Majesty’s Government speaking. There is not a private view of the Queen.” […] It is sensible for the government to encourage Her Majesty to intervene. It is perhaps a reminder to MPs to respect the constitutional norms and that nobody ever gets exactly what they want in politics.” (paywalled source)
While MPs apparently have taken the Queen’s words to heart and are calmly preparing for ‘That Tuesday’, we can assume that behind the scenes, in a calm way of course, fierce negotiations are ongoing, especially with the DUP on the Backstop question. Equally of course various MPs will be preparing for their various appearances on the various Sunday TV talk shows where they will peddle their favourite solution – in a calm way, one hopes, taking on board The Queen’s advice.
One other interesting aspect in the run-up to ‘That Tuesday’ is the latest ‘Project Fear’ incarnation. This one is aimed squarely at the Tory MPs – a deserving bunch, you will agree. According to this paywalled report, there’s yet another amendment, and:
“Senior government sources said they [the whips] had all but given up trying to stop a crucial amendment to the government’s motion being passed on Tuesday. The move, which has the backing of more than 200 MPs, calls for Theresa May to rule out a no-deal Brexit. It is being proposed by the former Conservative cabinet minister Dame Caroline Spelman and Labour’s Jack Dromey. Whips are understood to be telling Tory opponents of a no-deal Brexit that they would rather they supported this amendment than a rival move by Labour’s Yvette Cooper that would hand parliament the power to demand an extension of Article 50.”
It looks as if the Tory whips are trying to fight fire with fire – just to stop the WTO Brexit:
“Given where opinion is in the House no one really thinks we have a chance of defeating the Spelman amendment,” a senior government source said. “But we might be able to persuade enough of our people just to vote for that, and vote against Cooper, which is constitutionally far more significant.” The Spelman-Dromey motion, while a statement of parliament’s will, would not legally bind the government.” (my bold)
A bit machiavellian, this – and do take note: it’s not about Brexit or ‘coming together’, as the Queen counselled, it’s about keeping May in and keeping her BRINO WA on the table.
The now ritual threats from Ministers to resign if the “No deal” isn’t taken off the table aren’t lacking either. Mr Hammond’s threat (e.g. here) was greeted with the appeal to please do it …
Charles Moore observes on Mr Hammond and that Davos meeting:
“[…] Mr Hammond reiterated his belief that no deal would be a “betrayal” of the referendum because we “didn’t vote to be worse off”. In a way, we should be glad that all these menaces and moans came from Davos. It reveals the extent of collusive group-think on the subject and proves the dictum that “capital is a coward”. Rich and powerful people do not like disturbing existing arrangements, for the obvious reason that they do very well out of them. It is fun to see the entire WEF slithering down the Davos ski-slopes together as they try to pretend the world has not changed.”(paywalled source)
Exactly! Those who think they are better and much more knowledgeable than us are incapable of facing up to the momentous changes wrought and thus feel they simply must stop Brexit. Stable doors and bolting horses come to mind …
I’ll leave you with a fascinating proposal, described here, on how a filibuster in the HoL could scupper that Cooper-Bill. You need to scroll down to the bottom paragraphs. I don’t know if it’s written tongue- in-cheek – but why not have a go, Lords Tebbit, Lilley, Stoddard … !