I was not going to write about Brexit today. I was going to have a rest or another distraction, but now Parliament is resuming in a fanfare of aggressive timidity, exploited by others, for unintended consequence.
If I can make no sense of it, how can any voter? I asked before, ‘Have I missed something?‘ and my only answer to date is that I missed the full extent of the self-destructive bloody-mindedness of those involved. Keir Starmer must be beside himself laughing as he pulls the strings and watches the men he hates dance.
This is not Parliament v Executive. This is factions against factions, none with a majority and several allying with those they despise for personal revenge or to demolish with no hope of rebuilding. The one solid presence in this has been the personality of Boris Johnson; he whom others said would be rootless and changeable has been the steady one. The contrast with Mrs May is astounding.
Who then are those stirring the House, what do they want and what will they achieve?
- The Ultra Remainers (Liberal Democrats, Change UK, Grieve, Bebb etc): claiming to resist no-deal, though openly supporting a revocation of Brexit entirely;
- The timid, now most aggressive, ready for Brexit but afraid of the effects of a no-deal departure;
- Those simply out to hurt the Tories (Labour with honourable exceptions, the SNP etc);
- The Cabinet, seeking a deal, ready to walk away;
- The ERG Spartans, currently in alliance with the Cabinet;
- The Brexit Party, ready to divide and break every possible Conservative vote if there is a deal which they deem a ‘BRINO’.
The alliances are madness: none can achieve anything but destruction. Logically, the timid must recognise that a further delay will breed yet more delay, and encourage the European Union to grant no concession that the House could accept; though the House would have voted the previous deal through, had it not been for Labour spiting Conservatives. This makes no sense outside the Bubble. All plays into the hands of the smallest faction of them all – the Ultra-Remainers.
It is easy to read in the Conservative rebels a deep, personal animosity towards Boris Johnson and distrust. Never mind that the majority of Conservative MPs voted for his leadership, and an even larger majority of the member who do the ground-work: the rebels have come to put personal feelings above the interests of the party or of the nation. They may convince themselves that it is the other way round, but voters are not daft: they know that ‘No Brexit until there is a deal’ means ‘No Brexit at all’ as we cannot impose a deal on Brussels.
Should Boris lose this week, then the consequences for the nation are dire, and the consequences of having a government driven to the desperate possibility of ignoring an enacted law, even a foolishly enacted one.
Instead, an election is threatened. Is this threat enough to hold the rebels back? Had the matter not degenerated to such animosity and arrogance then it should. We are beyond that.
If an election is called, the Associations are not ready, the volunteers have deserted several candidates and the Brexit Party will divide the vote: this may be fatal in enough constituencies to let Jeremy Corby into Number 10, and result in a roaring financial collapse which makes any financial bump from a no-deal Brexit look like nothing. Boris is confident, but so was Mrs May, and she was not facing mass tactical voting. In her election, two small, dishonest ploys by Labour, on student loans and the ‘dementia tax’ left her without majority and begging for a mandate. What is waiting this time?
Should Boris win this week, then the game should be won: the Ultra-Remainers and Labour will keep at it for their differing reasons, but there is a chance of reconciliation to what will be becoming inevitable by the timid faction. Nothing is inevitable until Friday though. The arithmetic is different from that in Mrs May’s votes: there have been defections and a lost by-election.
The horrible thing is that this is all about Westminster politics and the thrust of British society and little in reality to do with Brussels.
Barnier is laughing at us.
- For the Record by David Cameron
- All Out War: The Full Story of How Brexit Sank Britain’s Political Class by Tim Shipman
- Brexit: Why Britain Voted to Leave the European Union by Harold D. Clarke, Matthew Goodwin and Paul Whiteley
- Brexit: How the Nobodies Beat the Somebodies by Sebastian J. Handley
- Brexit and Ireland: The Dangers, the Opportunities, and the Inside Story of the Irish Response by Tom Connelly
- Beyond Brexit by Vernon Bogdanor
- From Partition to Brexit: The Irish Government and Northern Ireland by Donnacha O Beachain
- Brexit: Its Necessity and Challenge by Tony Kosuge
- Rising Tides: Facing the Challenges of a New Era by Liam Fox
- By Boris Johnson: