Yesterday should have been a triumphant one for Theresa May, given the Brexit Bill passed without a single amendment – but she bizarrely decided to give it a downbeat twist. Free to trigger Article 50 this week, she has decided to hold off until the end of the month for no clear reason. The only one that seems to make sense – and seems almost certainly likely – is that she did not want to trigger article 50 mere days after Sturgeon’s indy ref 2 speech. This was silly for numerous reasons.
One, this is gifting Sturgeon a moral victory. In having to put off a flagship government action, one that has consumed the entirety of May’s premiership to this point, just because of one Sturgeon speech is giving the Scottish First Minster an enormous amount of indirect power. Plus, the idea that triggering Article 50 is going to somehow be the straw the broke the Union’s back is woefully naive. Has May not noticed that she’s ignored everything the Scots want throughout the Brexit process so far? Worrying that starting the divorce from the EU this week will offend Scotland is akin to sleeping with your best friend’s wife while you’ve tied him to a chair in order to watch the whole thing, and then worrying about mentioning to him afterwards that you can’t pay him the fiver you’d said you’d pay back today until tomorrow.
It suggests a Number 10 completely out of touch with where things sit with the Union at present. I’ll fill them in: it’s toast, guys, and the only way it can be saved is through sheer luck. The Union falling apart is a direct consequence of leaving the EU; the clued in Eurosceptic Tories have known this for years and have either accepted it as collateral damage or are actively seeing Scotland leaving the Union as a bonus. It is clear, however, that some Conservative MPs still don’t get it: David Mundell’s tweet this morning is a perfect example of this.
“Claiming having #indyref2 soon allows Scotland to stay in EU is absurd. Independent Scotland will be outside EU and have to apply to join.”
Yes, David, but on the other hand Scotland is going to be dragged out of the EU anyhow, and by leaving, Scotland can at least rejoin, whereas if it remains in the Union it does not have this option. It’s a depressing foreshadow of what indy ref 2 is really going to be like: the Tories, as the only ones left standing on the Unionist side, trying to use the Better Together messaging, not realising that in a post-Brexit world it makes no sense.
The needless putting off of the Article 50 triggering has given a boost to UKIP, and Farage has wasted no time at all in trying to exploit this. It may come to nothing, given the state of UKIP, but it does at the very least give Farage a chance to speak to the exact group of voters May is trying to woo in the negative about the Conservative Party.
Ah, but at least May always has the leg room that having a total muppet as leader of the opposition affords. Concerned about the plight of EU nationals right to remain in the UK, Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition may I remind you once again….spoke at a rally outside of parliament. I’m sorry, but this is intensely idiotic, even by Corbyn’s moronic standards. Jeremy, if you really care about this issue that much, here’s what you should have done: whip the shit out of the vote for the amendment, telling the Hoey bunch that if they don’t vote for it they will be deselected (something that could have done that rarest of things, unite both Momentum activists and the PLP); then lobby the 15 or so Tory MPs you need to carry the amendment. Or decide all of that would never work or simply isn’t worth the hassle, and then just shut up about it. Either way, you could have spared us all the sanctimonious, knob-with-a-megaphone routine, particularly as in doing so it looked like you were throwing away the one real chance you had to do something real about the problem.