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Analysis

Gove’s plan makes ‘meaningful vote’ meaningless

by Nick Kent | 17.09.2018

Michael Gove wants the prime minister to reach a Chequers-style deal, then kick her out, rip up her deal and go for an even harder Brexit. The most hardline Brexiter cabinet minister with a serious chance of succeeding Theresa May didn’t put it quite that bluntly when he spoke to the BBC’s Andrew Marr yesterday. But he did say that a future prime minister could “always choose to alter the relationship between Britain and the European Union”; and he damned Chequers with faint praise saying it was the right plan “for now”.

It is true that one of the UK’s constitutional rules is that no Parliament can bind its successors.  The main terms of any divorce deal agreed to by Parliament will be written into law but such a law could be repealed in the future.

But May isn’t going to bring home a trade deal with the EU. All she will have is a political declaration that is not binding on anyone – a “blind Brexit”. The proper talks won’t start until after Brexit, and it will take years to complete them.

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This is a vital point when it comes to the “meaningful vote”, in which MPs will be asked to approve both the withdrawal treaty and the political declaration on what May calls the UK’s future partnership with the EU. Gove’s intervention proves that they can have no confidence that we will end up with whatever she promises.

If the deal MPs will be voting on can be significantly changed later, what is the point of the “meaningful vote”? Gove is suggesting that it is in fact meaningless.

His remarks also give a hint of the kind of campaign he would run to replace May; he will promise to overturn the very deal he now claims to support.  

Given Brexiter opposition to the Chequers proposals, Gove may not be the only leadership candidate to take such a stance. The next Tory leadership contest looks as if it will be a Dutch auction in which the candidates compete to offer the most limited kind of post-Brexit relationship with the EU. And who will decide the outcome? Just 125,000 Conservative Party members. Their decision will trump that of the 2016 referendum, never mind Parliament.

A People’s Vote is the only way to take back control of the Brexit process from the extreme Brexiters and ensure that the people get the outcome they want.

Edited by Hugo Dixon

4 Responses to “Gove’s plan makes ‘meaningful vote’ meaningless”

  • Aw, and it looked as though Gove had turned over a new leaf and found his saintly inner green core and sent his slithery excitable backstabbing self into the forgotten; but unable to keep his trap shut, the excitable, treacherous one is back and starts blathering on and promising murder. One can only wonder what the EU negotiating team will think of it.

  • So Mussolini was right after all to call us the ‘perfidy albioni’.. the “perfidious Albioni”. The UK will never be able to hold their heads up high so long as the Tories are in power.Gove was – as Boris knows – a dastardly traitor. How on earth May could give him any responsibility for any decisions at all beats me – jack-of-all trades like the failed GP/Defence secretary now clowning around in America at OUR expense, probably feathering his nest with his hero Trump (!), and failing Grayling condemning thousands to an early death from hunger and cold and playing with trains at his age! and all the rest.. without exception. All bent on killing what little credibility we have left— how on earth did we manage to run an empire? It must have been thanks solely to the superior skills of the Indian, Hong Kong, Palestinian, and African civil servants… now we are sunk with this mediocre clowns.

  • You have to almost laugh at the lack of subtlety in Gove’s approach. He’s virtually confirming that any deal to be put to Parliament will do. Its blatant he’s only interested in getting past the 29th March 2019 threshold.

    Moderate pro Europe Tories have got to be wise to this. I hope someone amongst pro Europe MPs, of whatever party, puts down an amendment to the Government’s motion, which can command a cross-party majority of pro Europe MPs. That could for example require a deal to be closely aligned with the Single Market or it could be for a People’s Vote. And then enough MPs need to have the guts to defy the party whips and put the welfare of businesses and citizens ahead of party politics.

  • Mao Gove, with his personal vendetta against the EU, is the lowest form of pond life in a very long list of Tory slime balls. Despicable.