It seems insane but apparently Theresa May has been asked to consider delaying, or even cancelling, the “meaningful vote” on her Brexit agreement with the European Union, which has been due to take place next Tuesday (December 11).
It is a requirement of an Act of Parliament (s.13 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018) that the government of the United Kingdom bring forth an amendable Parliamentary motion at the end of that government’s negotiations on the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, which Parliament may reject if it so chooses.
Failure to bring a motion will be another contempt of Parliament. Mrs May has already headed the first UK government in history to be held in contempt by Parliament; does anybody think she’s strong enough to hold on if she is found to commit contempt a second time in two weeks?
That's a horrible strategy. People in Britain will be absolutely livid if Theresa May postpones the December 11th vote on the draft Brexit agreement. She'd lose all support from all sides and cement her legacy as a coward.
— Samuel Miller (@Hephaestus7) December 6, 2018
That she would. But if she goes ahead, she risks far worse for her political party, as Lord Heseltine spelled out in a debate in the House of Lords:
Worth listening to the end of Lord Heseltine's speech from the Brexit deal debate pic.twitter.com/uNRmJxQTJx
— Esther Webber (@estwebber) December 5, 2018
He was saying that Brexit will mean the UK economy will have less money to spend, meaning there will be less available to help keep the poorest people from absolute destitution, and he was saying that he did not want to support any decision that would make that happen.
If you don’t understand why he would say such a thing, consider the following – accurate – video clip from Momentum:
Theresa May's Brexit farce explained in 90 seconds.
— Another Angry Voice (@Angry_Voice) December 5, 2018
That’s the Brexit proposed for the UK by Mrs May; a mess concocted after two years in which she has done nothing but squabble with her own MPs about whose selfishness should be allowed to dictate what happens.
Yesterday (December 6) it was suggested that pulling the vote was now on the Tory government’s agenda as this would win support from the Democratic Unionist Party and the European Research Group of hard Brexiters in the Conservative Party. It would mean the so-called “Grieve amendment”, which would make it possible for Parliament to dictate the future of Brexit, could not be triggered. And it would buy time for more negotiations with the EU.
Media sources seemed unsure what was going on:
Tory whips emailed MPs half an hour ago saying the vote is still taking place on Tuesday. Not pulled yet…
— Alex Wickham (@alexwickham) December 6, 2018
NEW: Source tells me cabinet agreed they can’t lose a vote by 200, but certainly no agreement on pulling the vote. Told a bit of general dismay that PM didn’t fully put her cards on the table (but she never does)
— Beth Rigby (@BethRigby) December 6, 2018
So the government seems caught between a rock and a hard place. What can be done?
This left-wing commentator has suggested an answer:
Not the most popular thing I will say today, but it’s time to extend Article 50.
The PM is unable to come up with anything that will pass through the House.
She said it’s her deal, no deal or no Brexit. The 1st option will fail, the others require an extension of Article 50.
— Rachael Swindon (@Rachael_Swindon) December 6, 2018
And this one explains why such a move may be a good idea:
Even when May’s deal gets voted down, Labour still won’t win a vote of confidence against the gov’t – but, strangely, this could work in Labour’s favour.
Tories will be forced to compromise to softer Brexit or another referendum – either will irrevocably split their voter base.
— Evolve Politics (@evolvepolitics) December 6, 2018
There doesn’t actually need to be a vote to split Theresa May’s support base. If it doesn’t take place, it will be because she can’t win it with the agreement she has – she she’ll have to change it…
… And then she’ll still have to bring it before Parliament or be found in contempt again.
All told – vote or no vote – it seems the only certainty is laid out in The Prole Star‘s tweet, below:
So Theresa May finally has something in comon with millions of ordinary people across the UK…..
….she's wondering how on earth she's going to survive Christmas pic.twitter.com/WdUfmj5LOY
— The Prole Star (@TheProleStar) December 6, 2018
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