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.