If I were Gina Miller, I’d want my time and effort back. The courts ruled in favour of parliament having a say in the triggering of Article 50, only for parliament to give over one of the most tepid, passive sessions in its long history. It were as if the House of Commons was having a wake for itself.
It was like this due to the fact that whether Brexit heralds a brave new world or will be a total disaster, it was something the majority of parliament did not in fact want to happen. Forcing them all to vote for something they don’t actually believe in gave the day and evening a funereal air it could never shake off.
Some made the effort. Rees-Mogg beamed magisterially about “Independence Day” and all that. John Redwood shouted about the glory of Parliament’s independence from the shackles of Brussels in an oddly manic and not entirely convincing manner, as if he’d spent twenty years searching the globe for the love of his life only to find her in a vegetative state, he now lowered to shouting in her ear in vain hopes of revival. David Davis meanwhile had a cold which made his voice sound both raspy and distinctly working class, like he felt crap and couldn’t be arsed with the John Major routine for the day, wearing a “this is what Tooting sounds like, mate, and you can take it up with me if you think you’re hard enough” look on his face the whole time. Needless to say, no one took his face up on its offer.
Michael Gove talked about the dangers of populism without a hint of irony while chastising MPs calling for a white paper while not spelling out what they would ideally like Brexit to look like – and given the chamber yesterday, he sort of had a point. He was asked about the £350 million for the NHS deal and responded by saying that if the Tories had let him be PM, that would be a banker already.
On the other side of the House, only 26 Labour MPs are apparently inclined to vote against the bill. Margaret Beckett said she thinks Brexit will be a total disaster, the end of Britain as a nation, a complete and utter horror show – but is voting for the bill anyhow. She wasn’t alone there: the day saw Labour MP after Labour MP stand and give speeches about how terrible an idea Brexit was but that they would be voting for it to happen regardless. All I can say is, well done for convincing those Leave voters that you understand their concerns, chaps. Saying it will all be crap but that you’ll walk through the aye lobby anyhow doesn’t make you look weak and unprincipled at all but rather, Brexity as all heck. Really, relax, Stoke Central must be in the bag now.
The already much lauded Ken Clarke speech is deserving of all the plaudits it has received. He very rightly pointed out within it that Bill Cash could never be dragged into the chamber vote to join the EU, so why are pro-EU MPs just laying down their arms?
I think clips of yesterday will be played on television for many years to come – with sad music playing behind them.