After weeks of drift, finally an announcement from the government on Brexit. A new Withdrawal Agreement Bill will be put to the House of Commons to vote on during the week of June 3rd. Let’s avoid the whole “but what is so different about this Bill which means the Speaker will allow it” debate since it is so tedious I can’t bear it. Let’s just assume it is able to come before the House for a vote.
Why is May doing this? She has no more hope of the bill passing in early June than she does now. Why wait until after the European elections? Why do it the week that Donald Trump is in town? Does Number 10 really think that timing is somehow advantageous to them? I could ask these questions all day. The whole thing is absurd.
At one point in time I might have assumed that Theresa May knew something the rest of us didn’t. Such as, perhaps she is secretly really close to a deal with the Labour leadership that is going to allow the deal to pass this time. I don’t need to tell you, I really doubt there is anything resembling a plan here at all. The whole thing just seems desperate.
The message coming from cabinet members this morning is that if this Withdrawal Bill is voted down, then we’re looking at either no deal or no Brexit. This is unbelievably terrible messaging for two key reasons. One, no one believes this is actually the case. The EU would probably offer another extension, if it came down to it, in October. They might attach conditions to it, but the UK would just meet them, unless the PM of the moment really was minded to go for no deal. Two, most of the MPs in the current House of Commons are happy with one of those options stated anyhow. Telling the ERG types that this makes no deal more likely is hardly going to make them more likely to vote for May’s latest pile of dung; Remain MPs will see that stopping Brexit altogether is looking more and more probable. As ever, May is using exactly the wrong language to try and further her case.
So, the latest re-iteration of “May’s deal” gets voted down in the Commons in June. Then what? Either the 1922 Committee grows a pair and figures out that May will continue until she is dragged out of Number 10 or May just soldiers on, the head of a zombie government, at least until October when we face another moment of truth as a nation.
No, reckon it is a way to force the issue and get the government off the hook. Parliament rejects the Deal, then votes No Deal or Revoke. There will probably be a lot of abstentions but enough to get Revoke over the line. Then it will be just a case of taking Farage on the chin until the steam goes out of his case, which it will. Most of the public will be glad it is over one way or the other.
Most of the public will be glad it is over one way or the other.
Dunno about most of the public, but certainly enough Conservative voters will be so angry at the betrayal that they won’t even consider voting Conservative again until they have a leader who promises to re-invoke Article 50 the day after their first Queen’s Speech, that until that happens Labour will win every election. If the Conservative ever want to be in power again, they have to deliver leaving the EU.
Good article but there are a number of points.
1. A reporter said that the Withdrawal Bill would be allowed by the speaker because it was legislation – I think that it *might* have been a motion last time but actually that doesn’t fit with my recollection. There are a number of ways round it – such as if they have the numbers suspending standing orders.
2. Extension of Article 50: It began to be talked about in the media but the UK could revoke article 50 and then send a letter the next day triggering article 50 again if the EU27 institutes conditions, she doesn’t like or doesn’t agree with. It is highly likely that they will agree to another extension – as when push comes to shove, they view a no-deal brexit as worse.
3. A no deal Brexit has to pass Parliament. Obviously things will harden on the Tory side after the Euro-elections. But there are 8 Tory “People’ Vote” MPs and quite a few others who would vote against a no-deal brexit fearing it will be a total disaster and completely destroy the Tory reputation for a generation. It might be tight though.
4. Nothing will happen now until the Tory leadership is resolved. Labour (even Brexiteer Labour MPs) won’t want to agree anything as been seen as facilitating a hard Boris-style Brexit.
Good knows what May is doing as you say! But may be she has to be seen to be doing something to eke out her leadership by a few more days!!!
It began to be talked about in the media but the UK could revoke article 50 and then send a letter the next day triggering article 50 again if the EU27 institutes conditions, she doesn’t like or doesn’t agree with
That wouldn’t restart the clock unless the other member states agreed (in the ‘unilateral revocation’ case the ECJ granted itself the power to determine whether a member state was allowed to unilaterally revoke, and made it clear that they would not allow such a revocation if it were solely for the purpose of gaining extra time). So it’s effectively just the same as asking for another extension: if the other member states agree, the UK gets more time, if they don’t, it’s no deal.
A no deal Brexit has to pass Parliament
Does it? I believe the legislation is still that the UK leaves on Exit Day (as amended by S.I. to All Hallow’s Eve), with no deal unless a deal has been reached.
There’s nothing Parliament can do about that unless the government chooses to bring another S.I. to amend the date again.
So a Prime Minister minded to go for no deal could do so simply by not bringing any such S.I. and then no-deal would happen whatever Parliament thought about it.
I don’t think Parliament can propose an S.I itself, though I might be wrong about that.
Paul W says
“Does it? I believe the legislation is still that the UK leaves on Exit Day (as amended by S.I. to All Hallow’s Eve), with no deal unless a deal has been reached.”
I think the key point here is that the UK’s Brexit extension to 31 October 2019 is formal legal decision of the European Council. That has priority over UK law and statutory instruments (though the government has been careful to make sure that when EU law is changed UK law is amended to keep it in line with EU law – but we know which one has primacy).
Let’s avoid the whole “but what is so different about this Bill which means the Speaker will allow it” debate since it is so tedious I can’t bear it.
Surely that’s obvious; the Bill has never been before the House before. All that’s been before is motions (well, the same motion three times).
Why is May doing this?
My theory: she knows that in the immediate aftermath of the catastrophe that the Euro elections will inevitably be, there will be (numerous, loud) calls for her to resign. Announcing this now allows her to respond to those calls with ‘What’s the point in me resigning now, we’re voting on my Bill in a week, pass that and I’ve already said I’ll go then.’
She then hopes that by the time the Bill fails (or she pulls it at the very last moment, which I wouldn’t put past her), the immediate anger about the result will have passed, and she can just carry on. That is after all how she wangled it in June 2017 — get through the period of immediate anger, and then just carry on — and the best way to figure out what Theresa May is going to do is always to look at what she has done before because she never changes.