Tuesday 19 March 2019

Narcissism, Bercow and the Brexit soap opera - which is no longer boring at all

Speaker of the House John Bercow speaks in Parliament, in London 

Hysteria was the mental ailment that the world suffered from in Freud's day - especially the world of women with means who did not go out to work. Now it seems to be narcissism. 

Messrs. Obama and Trump, obviously, are narcissists. Mr. Obama spoke a eulogy to Shimon Peres much of which was a eulogy to him, Mr. Obama. 

But the most extreme narcissist of all is Mr Toad himself, Speaker John Bercow, who has put paid to the British Government's plans for Thursday’s European Council summit and for leaving the EU. The plan had been to use the threat of a long extension to Article 50 extension to get Theresa May's deal through parliament either before or days after the European summit. 

Instead the Speaker, quoting a ruling from the chair in 1604, has said that the government cannot bring back substantially the same motion to the House a second time. The Government's motion in favour of Mrs May's plan for Brexit, of course, has already been rejected twice by whopping majorities

We now have eight and a half working days before Britain is required under British and European law to leave the EU, without a deal if none can be agreed - and none has.

There are ways around the roadblock that the Speaker represents, though none of them are at all straightforward, but there are other problems for the Government. The Sun’s Tom Newton Dunn reports that if Brexit is delayed

“As many as 20 members of the hardline European Research Group have told whips they will carry out ‘vote strikes’ — a move that would push Mrs. May’s minority government to the verge of collapse.”
They risk an Article 50 delay that leads to a softer form of Brexit. 

Meanwhile Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will hold meetings with the small opposition parties and the Norway Plus group of Tory and Labour MPs — Nick Boles, Oliver Letwin, Stephen Kinnock and Lucy Powell — as he considers whether Labour should soften its position further to strike a deal across the House.

In fact, most of the House would prefer Norway Plus to Theresa May's proposals. This is not clear because Jeremy Corbyn is playing political games. 

Norway Plus means staying in the customs union and would be disastrous, for reasons I have explained, if permanent, but so long as it is not permanent it could be a way of getting us out of the EU without making perilous long-term commitments.

No deal, Canada and Norway are all much better destinations but are not in reach at present. I can't help thinking Theresa May's plan is the worst possible plan in the worst of all possible worlds.

Norman Lamont, however, disagrees and now very reluctantly supports it, as do Michael Howard and David Davis, the Brexiteer elder statesmen.

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