Hands up all who watched the spectacle in the HoC yesterday from start to finish! And hands up all who participated in the rally outside Parliament yesterday: well done everybody! By now you’re aware of the results and I have to confess: watching the voting taking place yesterday was very enjoyable. I happen to think that the way Parliament votes, the pure spectacle of it, the traditional words and procedures, can never be ‘bettered’ by ‘modern’ Parliaments such as the EU Parliament. If you want a recap of the amendments and votes, go here.
So here we are on the day after – and what has been achieved?
Firstly that, no matter what the Remainers are now crowing about in their immediate attempt of myth-making, the ‘No Deal’ option is still on the table. The “Spelman Amendment” which has the Remainers so exited – from Corbyn and the MSM all the way down to the EU – is not legally binding. Ms May has no mandate to remove ‘No Deal’.
Secondly – beware the ‘Malthouse Compromise’! I hope this was nothing but a clever ploy by Brexiteers to give Ms May the mandate to renegotiate and that it won’t form the basis of her renegotiations!
Thirdly – the EU. Mr Tusk and his minions have obviously been glued to the screen, watching how we vote in the HoC (with envy, one hopes!), to be able to come out immediately with their reply that there won’t be any renegotiations. If Tusk wanted to show the world that the EU is a monolith akin to the former Soviet Union, for which ‘njet’ is the only answer when asked for renegotiations, then he surely has done that perfectly.
The EU correspondent for the DT, remainer that he is, has good sources in Brussels. I shall pick out a few lines from his (paywalled) report because it shows that and how the EU and our way of governance are deeply incompatible. It’s about knowing one’s enemy:
“Within seconds of the Brady amendment handing Mrs May a notional mandate to return to the table after passing by 317 to 301, the EU issued a statement saying the Withdrawal Agreement “is not open for re-negotiation”. Some will rush to accuse Brussels of not being serious about wanting a deal, but the reality is rather more pragmatic: EU capitals do not want to start a negotiation when they still do not believe Mrs May can carry Parliament.”
Read this carefully: The EU won’t make concessions because Ms May cannot get the majority in Parliament they, the EU leaders, are used to achieving in the ever so democratic EU Parliament!
“But as one senior EU source puts it, the Brady result is not a mandate for discussion, since it does not define what “alternative arrangements” are envisaged […]”
It seems that these senior EU sources have picked up that claim from the Labour benches, from the Brexit wreckers. Not that it would have made a blind bit of difference had Ms May submitted fully formed details, composed in the astonishingly short time between Sunday evening and Tuesday afternoon when this compromise was worked out by Tory MPs! So we come to the main point:
“In short, it is clear, hardline Brexiteers want to bin the backstop; the EU will not agree to this. Indeed it seems increasingly clear that whatever might be deliverable at the margin will not satisfy the bulk of Brexiteers.” (my bold)
Yes, that’s correct: without the Backstop being removed, ‘concessions at the margins’ will not be sufficient. It’s extraordinary that ‘senior EU sources’ still don’t get that. But that’s not all:
“[…] EU officials repeat that Mrs May needs a “stable majority, not a freak one” before serious talks can begin.” (my bold)
Seriously? I am confused: the EU demands a majority for the WA – meaning it has passed the HoC – before they will negotiate? Negotiate what, after the thing has been agreed to? Prettifying the margins while the bulk, the Backstop, the Customs Union and all the rest have been accepted? And ‘freak majority’? A majority is a majority, unless of course by ‘stable majority’ they understand a 98% one, as expected by dictators where Parliament is allowed to agree only. Moving on:
“Downing Street appears to want to run down the clock until, ‘five-to-midnight’, confronting the EU with a choice between allowing a ‘no deal’ […] and forcing the Irish to concede a tweak on the backstop.”
Yes – and? Isn’t that good old EU practice? If it’s good enough for the EU …
“The problem for Mrs May is that […] given her spectacular failure to deliver on the original deal in the first vote, there is no reason for the EU to believe she could deliver on a second.”
Ms May represents us and has now the mandate, thanks to a leave/remain compromise, to renegotiate. It is not for Brussels to demand Ms May ‘delivers’! She is not an EU representative!
The EU however thinks what was passed in the HoC yesterday is ‘unrealistic’ and thus not worthy of a second look. In EU parlance: assure us that you can ‘deliver’ by getting a majority through backroom horse trading and then we’ll give you what you ask. Proper parliamentary scrutiny, to them, is ‘unrealistic’! Another fine example of the democratic deficit in the EU, another fine example for why we cannot possibly stay.
That report concludes with an intriguing outlook:
“So for now expect Europe [Ed: surely the EU and not the continent?] to sit on its hands, knowing that Mrs May has until February 13 before she must go back to Parliament where, as the passage of the Spelman amendment last night demonstrated, a majority of MPs want to rule out a ‘no deal’. When that happens, the game of chicken will be over before it ever began and – the EU hopes – a serious discussion about a softer Brexit which carries a true majority in Parliament can begin.”
To use a well-coined phrase: ‘In yer dreams!’.
It’s amazing (not!) that the EU, never mind journalists or Remain MPs from Corbyn down simply don’t get it that the ‘No Deal’ they are so terrified of is the legal default position, as agreed by Parliament. It would stand to reason that if the EU wants to avoid this outcome, negotiate it must … but ‘reason’ and ‘EU’ in one sentence … that’s incompatible, isn’t it!