It’s a strange weekend, this. Looking back on the excitement earlier this week, it’s as if everybody living and working in the Westminster Bubble is totally exhausted. Just as the previous weekend, I suspect that the usual suspects are polishing up their performance for tomorrow’s Sunday TV shows or drafting and revising their articles for the Sunday papers. The only one who has raised his head above the parapet is Jacob Rees-Mogg who felt he needed to explain why he supported that ‘Malthouse Compromise’. His explanation is reported extensively in The Express here. It’s not paywalled, so you can read the whole thing. JRM also writes in the (paywalled) DT. He is trying to explain that yes, there must be no extension to Article 50, but that the extension he has in mind is different. He writes that the Backstop must be removed, but that a sort-of Backstop-light could be contemplated:

“In return for an acceptable backstop, Eurosceptics would agree that the implementation would last for an extra year. If this were not acceptable, then the alternative would not be “no deal” but a purchased implementation period. Essentially, our existing contributions until 2021 in return for a standstill, while either a new future relationship could be negotiated or we could agree an extension of tariff-free trading, provided for under World Trade Organisation rules, allowing a further ten years to finalise trading arrangements.This ought to be palatable in one way or another to the EU as it preserves its red lines around the integrity of the Single Market. Currently, there are only 55 days left to Brexit. This makes the timetable tight for agreeing and legislating for a deal.

Parliament can also legislate with considerable speed but a law of this kind will need proper scrutiny. Thus, if the agreement were made but a little parliamentary time were needed, as long as the second reading had taken place a short extension is not impossible. Equally, to delay for the purpose of vacuous discussions would be solely to thwart Brexit. It must not be for that purpose and should be opposed if negotiations are incomplete.” (my bold)

So now you know …. Oh – and JRM agreed to this ‘Compromise’ so as to keep the Tory Party together, for the 1922 GE, because country must become before Party but the Party must be functioning for the Country … 

That this whole ‘Malthouse Compromise’ was a ploy used by both Tory Remain and Tory Brexiteers is nicely described here, where ‘a Cabinet minister’ lets the cat out of the bag:

They said: ‘We were nice about it to get the ERG onside for the votes. But it is basically going nowhere.’Nobody can explain why it is any different from ‘managed no deal’, which was never going to work.’It’s a mystery why anyone on the softer side of the argument is having anything to do with it.’

In other words, a ploy it was, and all the nice explanations are written to dazzle us with bovine excrement.

Speaking of extensions, there was that row about MPs being told not to go on holidays (‘recess’ in parliamentary language) this month because of the workload, see here and here. MPs immediately screeched and complained because they had already booked and paid for their ‘recess’, demanding compensation. So the Government relented:

As a result – despite the precarious state of Brexit negotiations – the Government quickly relented, with Chief Whip Julian Smith emailing all Tory MPs to say that anyone who had booked a trip could still take their holidays. He reassured MPs that anyone who had arranged ‘family time’ could honour their commitments – raising questions over whether it was worth cancelling the recess at all. MPs will also be able to skip coming into the Commons if they have any ‘important constituency events’ or ‘cross-party delegations’. (source).

Inept, incompetent, and insensitive to their reputation out here in the country outside their Bubble … we want Brexit, but they’d rather have their holidays … Thus they have a handy excuse why unfortunately there must be an extension, as described by Mr Rees-Mogg, because it’s all too much work in too short a time! After all nobody could foresee that Brexit would actually happen on March 29th … and Whitehall ‘won’t be able to cope’, according to this report in the (paywalled) Times:

A no-deal Brexit could quickly overwhelm Whitehall, the government has admitted in papers leaked to The Times. A document drawn up as part of a contingency plan, codenamed Operation Yellowhammer, also says the government might have to go on emergency round-the-clock footing for months after a hard Brexit.

What an elegant little item in the “Project Fear” catalogue! Whitehall having to work overtime? How perfectly awful!

These ‘small extensions’ seem to be the preferred way forward (see e.g. here) – not, of course, because time is running run out, but because of the ‘intransigent EU’. It is incomprehensible to me that government and Parliament should now feel baffled by this. Where have they been since negotiations started? On holidays, sorry: recesses?

The latest gossip from Brussels (here) is that the EU is angry and frustrated by Ms May whom they used to ‘like’, because – oh the horror! – “EU politicians feel it has got to a blatant stage of her putting her party interests above everything else.” The Brussels correspondent then describes how the EU regards the whole Referendum as just a ruse by the Tories to stay in power … Has anyone told them that never ever have the Tories or indeed Labour won 17.4 million votes in an election?

While our government and MPs are either on the ski slopes or worrying about how to avoid a No Deal, contorting themselves to reason about small extensions and ‘soft backstops’, it’s utterly fascinating to read that the one person, that German Mr Selmayr, who decides about how and what to negotiate if negotiating at all, seems not to be fussed about a No Deal. He reportedly said that

“No Deal Brexit is “not the end of the world” as Brussels braces for Britain to crash out. Martin Selmayr, said by some to be the power behind the EU throne, insisted Europe shouldn’t be worried by No Deal.”

If Mr EU isn’t worried, if he tells the EU not to be worried – why then should Ms May, her government, the MPs and Lords, the MSM, be worried? We Brexiteers out here aren’t worried at all!

And how ironic it would be if we were to get our No Deal Brexit thanks to a German!


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