Tuesday 2 April 2019

Cabinet government has been suspended by a calamitous and unnerved Prime Minister

"One former prime minister told a private audience recently that if he had been asked about the EU customs union during his time in office, he would not have known what they were talking about" (Jennifer Rankin, who also doesn't understand it, in the Guardian today).

Laura Kuenssberg‏ of the BBC quotes a cabinet minister saying that, at today's seven hour cabinet meeting, fourteen ministers opposed asking the EU for another delay of Brexit and ten approved but she is doing so anyway.  

She insisted that the cabinet remained in No 10 while she addressed the nation from the street.

Why on earth did they accept being made prisoners? But it's a metaphor for their predicament  - and their cowardice.

The Prime Minister's behaviour is of course completely unconstitutional, even if the Cabinet Secretary, who wrote a paper about the baleful consequences of No Deal that was obviously written in order to be leaked, says untruly that the Cabinet never takes votes. 

(No need to go back to Mr. Gladstone's cabinet which took votes. Mr Blair's did.) 

The mainstream media expects cabinet ministers to resign. They would be fools to do so - if they do, Mrs May gets a majority for her policy. 

Mrs May has invited Jeremy Corbyn to talks and he has, of course, agreed. 

Her purpose is to make him share the blame for leaving with no deal and he knows this. 

His purpose is to avoid sharing the blame for no deal, or any Brexit, but without opposing Brexit, which in fact he wants. 

He will make sure that he does so.

Britain at this crucial moment has its worst ever Prime Minister (Lord North and Neville Chamberlain were quite good, actually, and even Sir Anthony Eden, Gordon Brown and Sir John Major were much better) and its worst ever Leader of the Opposition.

The cabinet must require the Prime Minister's immediate resignation to be replaced by a caretaker Prime Minister - anyone. Michael Howard or Lord Salisbury would be my choice but anyone except Philip Hammond or another extreme Remainer would do.

No deal is the best deal now but even those in the cabinet who support it are terrified by the prospect, according to very credible sources.

Juliet Samuel, the cleverest mainstream journalist and herself a Remainer, explains here why Mrs May's deal is much better than a customs union from the point of view of Remainers.

Mrs May in her speech to the country said the government would  honour the result of any run-off in the House between her deal and another deal, provided Mr Corbyn, who favours a permanent customs union, did the same. But that might well mean that a Tory government would have to deliver a soft Brexit i with the support of most Labour MPs but fewer than 40 Tory MPs. 

This seems like Alice in Wonderland, but everything does now.

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