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Analysis

Let’s squish PM’s deal one more time

by Hugo Dixon | 14.03.2019

We’ve had three victories in three days – against the prime minister’s deal, against crashing out with “no deal” and now for extra time. But like a cockroach, the deal is coming back again. And we’ll have to squish it again.

Today’s victory wasn’t as complete as it might have been. This is because the government’s motion proposing a delay to Brexit contained the suggestion that MPs should have another go at passing her deal. An amendment by Labour’s Hilary Benn, which would have helped clean it up, was defeated by two votes.

But the good news is that the motion accepts that the government would ask the EU next week for a longish delay if it fails to get her deal through by Wednesday. We would then have enough time to hold a People’s Vote.

The prime minister will, of course, fight tooth and nail to stop that. She will use every trick in the book to persuade MPs to change her minds. Given that they rejected her deal by 149 votes on Monday, she has six days to convince 75 MPs to switch sides.

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The first battle will be over whether, given that the deal hasn’t changed, she is even allowed to put it to MPs again. This goes against the House of Commons standing orders. The Speaker should not allow her to flout the rules. At the very least, she should be forced to persuade MPs to suspend them.

But if her deal does come to the vote again, we need to defeat it. To do that, we need to reiterate how it is bad for our power, prosperity, people and peace in Northern Ireland.

We also need specific arguments to counter the government’s attempt to convert MPs. One of these is that, if we don’t back the deal, we will have to hold the European Parliament elections in May. The government put out a misleading document on the topic today. Whatever the wisdom of holding them – and there are arguments both ways – to view them as an “insuperable” obstacle is “oversimplified” and “fallacious”, according to a European Court of Justice Advocate General.

We also need to convince MPs that a long delay unlocks new options – not just a People’s Vote. It is the key to exploring softer forms of Brexit, Citizens’ Assemblies and a general election. Anybody interested in any of these alternatives now has no incentive to back the prime minister’s deal.

Then we need to argue that Boris Johnson and his ilk will go down in history as the enablers of a “vassal state” Brexit if they eat their words and support this miserable deal. How could they do this, given what they have said about the notorious backstop being a “suicide vest” tied around the British body politic?

If we succeed in squishing the deal a third time, the road will be open to a People’s Vote. Sure, MPs will want to see if scrubbing out the prime minister’s red lines lets them find a good Brexit. But they will be disappointed. At that point – with Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn tonight sounding more positive about a new referendum – we should have the majority in Parliament needed to put Brexit to the people.

Edited by Jenny Sterne

12 Responses to “Let’s squish PM’s deal one more time”

  • All one big stitch-up and what we have witnessed since the REF vote in 2016 is the greatest theatrical ‘OSCAR’ winning acting by MPs ever witnessed by the British people and now appears to have been pre-planned by both the Remain and Leave side, where most are in the back pockets of our largest corporates and therefore never really wanted out.. For they knew which side there bread was buttered on and to hell with democracy. The ‘People’s Vote, what’s that as it was the biggest charade ever on the unsuspecting British people if truth be told. Indeed this blog was posted in 2015 before the REF and tells the truth what was on the horizon, trapped forever in that lovely dictatorship the EU.

    What the politicians are not telling the people of the UK is what is on the horizon for them in the Lisbon Treaty and where according to the Treaty, all members States have to accept what the EU dictates without question and even if they do, they cannot do anything about it. Don’t believe me, rear up on what the Lisbon Treaty states. I wonder why ‘ALL; our politicians on both sides are not telling the people what is actually in the Lisbon Treaty?

    Leaving the EU for the People of the United Kingdom will NEVER happen – because Our Political Elites do not Want It to happen – World Innovation Blogspot
    https://worldinnovationfoundation.blogspot.com/2015/04/eu-referendum-for-people-of-united.html

  • I’m sorry David but your argumentation comes across as being overly emotional, not factually convincing, and very superficial.
    Readers should never forget the rather sinister behaviour of wealthy individuals behind trying to influence voters prior to the referendum, as well as the peculiar arguments of the benefits of leaving the EU, and the inconsistent behaviour of many of the leading personalities within the unseriously named European Research Group.
    Normal people do wear bullshit-detectors, thankfully. They need to!

  • I have never heard of “The World Innovation Foundation” so I don’t who you really represent, but your oddly clumsy use of the English language is suggestive and your suggestion that the current situation is a “stitch up” and was “pre-planned by both the Remain and Leave side” is frankly risible.

  • I don’t buy your argument either, David. The problem is that the British cannot change their mindset. They are suspicious of Europe and cannot quite grasp why the country’s future should now be closely allied to the EU. The old world has gone. We can no longer boss other countries about or send in the gunboats, although G Williamson is still of that mindset. We should be dictating the future of our continent from within and stop being destructive, petty and archaic. The Lisbon Treaty does not worry me nor does a federal Europe. What is there to be scared about? British people just have this suspicion of all things foreign and still hark back to the war. They still see Europe as the ‘enemy’. Time to grow up, David, and adopt a more creative approach. Your attitude actually holds the country back culturally, socially, economically and politically.

  • Nice description of the deal as a cockroach. Can’t see why the speaker should allow the deal to be brought back, what reason is there here to flout parliamentary precedent?
    No value to allowing trolls and bots to crawl over this site is there, Hugo? Why not give them the cockroach treatment?

  • I assume you consider yourself to be a democrat John but you want opposite opinions stopped from appearing on this site?
    If those opinions are wrong then good debate will expose falsehoods. Your attitude reflects my worst fears of the EU commisars who don’t like being interviewed or argued with. And it has also been nice to see on this thread talk of being comfortable with a federal Europe! That is the totalitarian outcome that people like me fear most.

  • In all honesty, I cannot see how the “ruling elites” can, in any democratic sense, prevent the UK leaving the EU. The only way is by either holding another referendum (a bit risky) or an election (just as risky). Although I’m a remainer, as far as I can see, the best way is to leave with as soft a brexit as possible, retaining our membership of both the customs union and the single market. This implies free movement – which we actually need, since our soft fruits promise to lie rotting in the fields this year, with no-one to pick them, free movement of goods and services, etc. The risk of not being able to do a trade deal with the US is ridiculous; we already do billions of dollars of trade across the Atlantic as it is and Fox has failed miserably in arranging any trade deals with any other large economy. Personally, I wish that a miracle happens and we stay in the EU – flawed though it is, it is still the best game in town and I’m fed up with millionaire politicians playing their self-serving games and complicating my life.

  • “comfortable with a federal Europe! That is the totalitarian outcome that people like me fear most.”

    And yet those same people are content to abase the UK before the FEDERAL USA and its dangerously crackpot POTUSOA.

    A free citizen in one of the independent sovereign states of the European community of nations, or an economic slave worker in a “shithole” (to borrow Drumpf’s term) vassal country of the USA? I know which I prefer!

    I’ll go with Winston Churchill:

    “There is a remedy which … would in a few years make all Europe … free and … happy. It is to re-create the European family, or as much of it as we can, and to provide it with a structure under which it can dwell in peace, in safety and in freedom. We must build a kind of United States of Europe.”

    Winston Churchill, 1946, University of Zurich

  • Unfortunately Winstons vision for Europe has been turning sour for some years due to the incompetence and intransigence of our political and bureaucratic leaders. If you (and I suspect the majority of contributors to this site) really want a united States of Europe then you should have the courage to campaign for it and then let democracy take it’s course. You will not do that as you know this country would never accept it. Therefore you accept the EU stealth tactic of drawing up new treaties with weak governments to eventually create a federal structure by the back door.

  • If you (and I suspect the majority of the ERG clique and its claque) really want a neo CANZUK utopian state then you should have the courage to campaign for it and then let democracy take it’s course.

    You will not do that as you know this country would never accept it. Therefore you adopt the Little Englander nationalism and seek a refuge in the type of faux patriotism which appeals to the uneducated and ill/uninformed lowest common denominators to seek secession from the EU by electorally corrupt processes (overspending of illegal funds etc).

    I do not, however, dispute yourcontention in respect of the (gross) incompetence and intransigence of our political and (to a lesser extent) bureaucratic leaders.

    A United States of Europe will emerge in a generation or 2, when society is ready to move that way, or when driven by events. It may or may not be federal. It could well evolve as confederate.

    Premature campaigning is typically un/counter productive.

  • What’s the problem, Peter? Why are you scared? If this country is as ‘great’ as you think then it could be in control if the EU, moulding into the shape it desires. Instead, you put your head in the sand. And when you talk about it being totalitarian, that is risible. This country thinks it is the purveyor of ‘democracy’ but we have dishonest politicians who lie and manipulate the voting procees. It also still practises FPTP which is outmoded and unfair. Plus it still has an unelected chamber! Time to progress, not regress.

  • Both government and opposition parties need a plan B, and in a hurry.

    Government (with or without Mrs May) needs a plan B as Mrs May’s deal will almost certainly be voted down a third time on Tuesday.

    Those who just want a less damaging Brexit deal which can be agreed (including with the EU) in the next couple of months need a plan B, for only by agreeing to this can they be certain of averting a chaotic “no deal” Brexit, whether or not a short extension is granted by the other 27 EU leaders.

    Those who want a further referendum, so that the people can decide (now that they know what Brexit means) whether that is what they thought they were voting for or whether, as polls now indicate, the majority would prefer to remain in the EU.

    If there is to be a longer extension of article 50, as would be necessary for a referendum, EU leaders will need a clear plan to persuade them to grant it – and that cannot be Mrs May’s Plan once that has been voted down a third time.

    Similarly, if there is to be a further referendum (or PV), a “leave” option will be needed for the ballot paper. MPs, having voted down Mrs May’s deal so comprehensively, would not agree to that being on the ballot paper.

    For the same reason, MPs would not agree to put “no deal” on the ballot, for that also has been voted down twice.

    There is only one ‘plan B’ immediately available, which the EU has already indicated it will agree to, and which could secure a majority in the House of Commons for, unlike Mrs May’s deal, it has significant cross-bench support.

    As M Barnier said three months ago, it is a decision for U.K. whether to leave the EEA too, but the EU would keep this option open right up to the end of the transition if necessary. As he said more recently, if U.K. changes Mrs May’s red lines, the EU will ‘respond immediately’.

    So it is still open for U.K. to remain the EEA when we leave the EU. This would greatly reduce the economic damage of Mrs May’s deal by keeping us in the single market, while eliminating the continuing uncertainty of Mrs May’s PD, which would otherwise open the way to at least two more years of even tougher negotiations.

    The EEA agreement is tried and tested over 25 years and remains the preferred alternative to EU membership for two prosperous and proudly independent European countries. Because U.K. is a member now, the implementing legislation is already on the statute book.

    Remaining in the EEA is an “off the shelf” solution, which is important because there is no time to go back to the drawing board now. It is the workable compromise which any rational government would have been seeking from the start.

    Sometimes it can be more productive to go through the open door when battering your head against the brick wall is not yielding any result other than an economic headache.