Tuesday 2 April 2019

All four soft Brexit motions defeated in the House of Commons - the Government runs the country again for a day or two - what happens next?

Brexit was a very boring thriller for a long time, but it certainly turned out to be a nail-biter in the end. 

Disraeli said a majority was the best repartee. Last night none of the four proposals put to the House won a majority. The repartee will be left to the European Commission, unless Mr May's proposal somehow passes at a fourth attempt, in some guise that persudes the Speaker to permit it to be put to the House.

I am very thankful that Ken Clark's plan for the UK to remain permanently in the customs union failed, though only by three votes. 'Only' 37 Tory MPs voted for it. It is the worst possible option - far worse than remaining in the EU or any other form of Brexit, for the reasons explained by Robert Courts in yesterday's Daily Telegraph.

William Hague is one of the men (and one woman, Hillary) who destroyed Libya, and this error of judgment must never be forgiven or forgotten, but he is exceptionally intelligent. When I read him argue that if Mrs May's proposal does not get through there will be no Brexit I feel he might well be right. 

I also hugely respect former Tory leader Michael Howard who has said the same thing. Brexiteer Lord Howard should renounce his peerage and become Prime Minister. Michael Gove also feels the same, another very clever Brexiteer.

Lord Hague thinks the Conservatives are

in danger of losing the support of hopeful young people with ambitions, and it cannot win elections without such people. 

I wonder which party he thinks are winning young people with ambitions - can he mean Jeremy Corbyn's Labour? If so the only reason I can think of why this could be is that free universities attract them. But anyone ambitious over 22? The Liberal Democrats are clearly not winning voters. 

Lord Hague goes on

Moreover, the Conservatives are inevitably identified with the Brexit project, for good or ill, and slowly, steadily, the case for Brexit is being lost.
I say that with regret, because by far the best course after the 2016 referendum has been to deliver Brexit and make a go of it. Now, however, a slow movement is taking place out there that makes it rather doubtful that people would vote for it again. Perhaps for the first time, everyone is talking about it, and they are beginning to notice that the trade deals are not so easy, the process of leaving extremely complicated and the keenest Brexiteers deeply divided among themselves. Most people haven’t changed their minds, but I meet some who have, as shown in polls as well.

Seven times more Tory MPs voted against a customs union, than voted for. 170 Tory MPs, out of a total of 314, have signed a letter to the Prime Minister in favour of leaving with no deal.

Today the cabinet is back in charge of the country for a day or so, instead of Sir Oliver Letwin and the backbench MPs. Or is it?

The cabinet hopes their deal will pass a fourth time but if it does not what happens? 

Yesterday the Foreign Secretary (and Remain campaigner in 2016) Jeremy Hunt became the latest member of the cabinet to come out for no deal Brexit, meaning no deal is now favoured by 14 out of 27 members of the Cabinet. That is a majority and Britain is supposed to be ruled by the cabinet, so long as it enjoys the support of Parliament, not by the Prime Minister, who is supposed to be first among equals, or the civil servants, who are supposed to be servants of the cabinet. 

Nothing can be predicted. The cabinet has a five hour meeting this morning, though I imagine it will overrun.  What a meeting that will be. 

Will a vote be taken, despite the Cabinet Secretary, who along with the Prime Minister prevented one when the Brexit policy was finally decided? To vote or not to vote, that is the question.

Britain is supposed to leave the EU on Friday of next week.

The alternatives to no deal are a further delay of Brexit, if the EU agrees, or a general election, which the Queen should not grant Mrs May until she has asked other people if they can form a government.

I do not know what will happen. My only conclusion is Charles Moore's mantra, that he has repeated since the 2008 financial crisis. Everything is different now. 


  1. No deal, then. On the 12th, we leave and will have to make the best of things but we will finally be an independent nation once again.

  2. Comments by two Romanians on this post:

    'This British world is amazing. Benny Hill in 21st century!'

    'Best soap opera ever :))'