Okay, a note at the start to bear with me here. This past month has been the nadir of British parliamentary politics for the last century at the very, very least, and most of what has happened is baffling in the extreme. So, here goes, best I can, I’ll explain where we are.
Theresa May decided to address parliament yesterday, even though she was under no obligation to do so, all while she is trying get around putting her vote to the House before Christmas. I guess one could describe it as “hiding in pain sight”. To compound matters, she had no new information whatsoever to communicate. The whole session was embarrassing – a sort of game of chicken between the prime minister and the whole rest of the House of Commons. Yeah, ERG bunch, you tried and failed to get rid of me, what are you going to do now? Yes, Labour MPs, you hate Brexit and yet are stuck with Corbyn Brexithead McBrexit as leader, but you also lack any will to walk off as a group, so shout at me all you want if it makes you feel better about it all. I’m just going to keep giving five word replies to your lengthy questions. No one can stop me.
Corbyn, in the midst of all of this, managed to come across as among the more inept of MPs – a massive accomplishment, even for him. He announced early on in the afternoon that he was going to call a no confidence vote in the prime minister, not the government – which isn’t even really a thing. What the hell, I guess, while parliamentary convention is going to hell let’s invent new, needless conventions for fun. Then Corbyn pulled this vote – then put it back on the table. The government doesn’t have to hold the vote at all, by the way, as Labour have burnt all of their opposition debate opportunities for the year discussing the contents of Corbyn’s allotment. Then, the Labour whips office threatened to upgrade the no confidence vote into an actual no confidence vote, you know the one that actually has some constitutional clout (and is a real thing) – then, the opposition parties laid down an amendment to the no confidence vote that isn’t a no confidence vote, thus theoretically turning it into an actual no confidence vote. It is uncertain if you can do that to a no confidence vote that isn’t a no confidence vote, so we’re sort of stuck for the moment. Clear?
I have no idea whatsoever what is going to happen today in the House of Commons. Labour have threatened to do so much, most of which is nonsensical, my best guess is that nothing at all will happen. The government will not allow the no confidence vote, whether it be a real no confidence one or a fake one, to happen, and Labour will say nothing about it and hope no one notices. But that’s just a guess. It’s equally likely that Corbyn will wander into the chamber dressed as Napoleon Bonaparte and recite “Hamlet” (all the parts) from front to end.
Paul W says
These are parliamentary pantomime games, quite appropriate for the time of year really. As William Hague points out in today’s Daily Telegraph, Theresa May has twelve months to deploy as she thinks fit – in the national interest of course. She can act, he notes, as a ‘deadweight’ or ‘roadblock’ to anything she disapproves of. We know on past evidence that she is very good at doing that.
And did you notice Jacob Rees-Moggs’s gallant, festive peace offering to Mrs May in the Commons yesterday, which was backed up by similarly supportive comments from Steve Baker? The ERG have had their little, er, medium sized, revolt. Now watch them fall slowly into line.