PM May’s fu­ture tense

Re­main­ers against a No Deal imag­ine a UK with eco­nomic col­lapse and ex­or­bi­tant tar­iffs, epi­demic dis­ease, drug and food short­ages and po­lit­i­cal chaos.

The Sunday Guardian - - WORLD - AN­TO­NIA FILMER LONDON

This week in West­min­ster has been de­voted to de­bat­ing Brexit and Theresa May’s With­drawal Agree­ment (WA). The Prime Min­is­ter has faced se­ri­ous re­bel­lion in her ranks, be­gin­ning with MPS vot­ing 303 to 296 to ap­prove an amend­ment to the Fi­nance Bill against a No DEAL/WTO Brexit, pro­posed by Labour back­bencher Yvette Cooper. The amend­ment re­quires the gov­ern­ment to ex­tend the date of Ar­ti­cle 50 or to ob­tain the ap­proval of the House of Com­mons be­fore us­ing tax­hik­ing pow­ers in the event of a No Deal. The amend­ment was ap­proved by 20 Con­ser­va­tive MPS who voted against the gov­ern­ment. Tom New­ton Dunn re­ported this is the sixth Brexit defeat for May and the only Fi­nance Bill amend­ment in 41 years.

The Fi­nance Bill was fol­lowed by a second Com­mons defeat for Theresa May. Do­minic Grieve, Con­ser­va­tive MP and for­mer At­tor­ney Gen­eral, led a cross-party Re­mainer re­bel­lion de­mand­ing a busi­ness mo­tion that was ac­cepted by the Speaker, John Ber­cow, as an amend­ment to the Busi­ness of Par­lia­ment, in an un­prece­dented move that dis­re­garded the UK’S un­writ­ten Con­sti­tu­tion. Ber­cow is be­ing chal­lenged to pub­lish the ad­vice of the Clerk of the Com­mons which is as­sumed he over­ruled.

The Grieve amend­ment was ac­cepted by 308 to 297. This amend­ment con­densed the time the PM has avail­able to come up with a Plan B for UK’S with­drawal from the EU, should the vote on Tuesday, 15 Jan­uary fail. The PM now has only three days, as op­posed to 21 pre­vi­ously, to pub­lish an al­ter­na­tive plan. These events un­der­line that Theresa May has very lit­tle au­thor­ity over her MPS. It raises se­ri­ous ques­tions such as if the ma­jor­ity House of Com­mons has no con­fi­dence in the gov­ern­ment should there be a vote, or as Jeremy Cor­byn sug­gested on Fri­day a gen­eral elec­tion. The pres­sure is ob­vi­ously on for the PM to stand down or to defy Re­main­ers and opt for a No Deal.

Re­main­ers against a No DEAL/WTO imag­ine a UK with eco­nomic col­lapse and ex­or­bi­tant tar­iffs, epi­demic dis­ease, drug and food short­ages, 20-mile tail­backs at ports, train and air­line dis­rup­tions and po­lit­i­cal chaos.

A for­mer chief of the Bri­tish in­tel­li­gence ser­vice, MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove, has writ­ten to the chair­men of Con­ser­va­tive Asso­ciations warn­ing that the present WA is a threat to national se­cu­rity policy by bind­ing UK into new sets of EU con­trolled re­la­tion­ships. Dearlove warns, con­cealed in the pro­posed de­fence, se­cu­rity and in­tel­li­gence “spe­cial relationship” with the EU are threats to the fun­da­men­tals of UK national se­cu­rity, membership of NATO, UK in­tel­li­gence re­la­tions with the US and the Five Eyes Al­liance. Dearlove con­tin­ues, the first duty of the state is the safety of its cit­i­zens and the WA, as it stands, puts UK’S national se­cu­rity in for­eign hands. He urges the Tory chair­men to ad­vise their MPS to vote against May’s WA. Presently, es­ti­mates show the PM will lose the Mean­ing­ful Vote by at least 225 votes, which would be hugely dam­ag­ing to her cred­i­bil­ity both in UK and the EU. If the WA were to pass, MPS who have voted against it know their days are num­bered.

Greg Hands, Con­ser­va­tive MP and for­mer Min­is­ter for In­ter­na­tional Trade, wrote for Con­ser­va­tive Home that the WA favours the EU; that the EU feels it has the up­per hand and the back­stop is es­sen­tially a puni­tive mea­sure to demon­strate that Brexit will not work. Hands refers to Martin Sel­mayr—jean Claude Juncker’s Chief of Staff and Gen­eral Sec­re­tary to the Eu—and Sabine Weyand—michel Barnier’s Deputy—as be­ing the in­vis­i­ble hands di­rect­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions. This is no sur­prise to The Sun­day Guardian, which who re­ported in Oc­to­ber 2017 that Sel­mayr was vir­tu­ally di­rect­ing Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions (https://www. sun­day­guardian­ world/11412-uk-tired-lack­progress-eu-). Hands claims Sel­mayr and Weyand in­sisted on the sep­a­rate parts of a With­drawal Agree­ment and a Po­lit­i­cal Dec­la­ra­tion which have so di­vided West­min­ster. Hands’ fi­nal cau­tion is that these po­ten­tially vin­dic­tive EU com­mis­sion­ers will in­crease in power after the re­tire­ment of Juncker and Barnier in June.

There is an­other sit­u­a­tion un­der spec­u­la­tion: what if Labour MPS ab­stained in the vote on 15th, would the vote fail or pass? If the lat­ter then would it pre­cip­i­tate a Tory Brex­i­teer re­bel­lion, and then the DUP would with­draw their con­di­tional vote of con­fi­dence in May’s gov­ern­ment?

Speaker John Ber­cow is be­ing chal­lenged to pub­lish the ad­vice of the Clerk of the Com­mons which is as­sumed he over­ruled.

Theresa May

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