As May faces a Tory revolt and wrath of voters, will it all end in reversal of Brexit?
BARRING a total turnaround not seen in British politics for many a year, it seems as if Theresa May will fail in her stellar efforts to get the British House of Commons to approve the Brexit deal hammered out between her government and the EU.
If there was any doubt about this, it was completely dispelled after the humiliating parliamentary defeats sustained by the prime minister on Tuesday.
A combination of MPs found her government to be in contempt of parliament for not publishing the legal advice given to her cabinet by the attorney general Geoffrey Cox.
This meant an extremely embarrassing U-turn was necessary whereby the government then had to publish the AG’s advice.
While Mr Cox’s document merely stated the obvious – that the border backstop had to remain in place ‘unless and until’ an EU/UK deal was reached – his stark words allowed some of the hard Brexiteers, not least the DUP’s Nigel Dodds, to make ‘I told you so’ speeches.
One didn’t have to be blessed with a legal mind to understand the obvious, once the deal was reached. The backstop guarantee was there to stay, unless something better, from the EU’s and Ireland’s point of view, was put in its place.
Even more telling was the coming together of pro-Remain Tories with the opposition parties to win an amendment that would give MPs a say in what May does if her deal is rejected next week.
Indeed, it is now being suggested that May’s government may not put forward the deal for a vote as expected next Tuesday, and will try to play for more time, possibly over Christmas.
While this amendment may have pleased some in Dublin, in that May’s government could be forced to reject a no-deal Brexit, it again exemplifies the ever-increasing weakness of the Tory government. I TS authority is being whittled away, bit by bit. Former Conservative attorney general Dominic Grieve stated that this amendment will allow MPs to ‘take back control’ of the Brexit process.
As always in normal parliamentary politics, an incumbent government cannot continue in power if it is constantly being defeated.
While many independent observers marvel at the tenacity and doggedness of Theresa May, more and more, she is getting closer to a time when she will have to accept the inevitable.
Some are suggesting that a defeat on the current deal is not terminal for her government, in that it will allow her to go back to the EU looking for more concessions.
Personally, I cannot see EU member states revisiting the deal in any meaningful way so as to help May’s government. And all of these parliamentary defeats are causing the value of sterling to slide, something which will probably continue as long as uncertainty regarding the future remains.
On the other hand, some financial analysts are suggesting that these constant defeats of May’s government may actually bring about a reversal of Brexit.
The thinking on this seems to have come from the opinion that will be delivered by the European Court of Justice on Monday, which is expected to suggest that the UK could unilaterally revoke its Brexit request, if it wanted to.
This is after a senior legal adviser to the court, advocate general Campos Sánchez-Bordona, said, on Tuesday, that London could revoke Article 50 it wanted to, but hoping this will happen may very well be wishful thinking.
The British electorate now seems to be getting more and more fed up with the entire Brexit conundrum.
The longer the impasse continues, the more likely the average voter will take it out on those they see as being primarily responsible, namely the Tories.
Suggestions that the UK could ask for a further extension, delaying Brexit until after March 28 next, can only send more MPs into the hard exit camp, in that this will merely extend the UK’s ‘one foot in, and one foot out’ of the EU.
May’s opponents would be able to correctly say that this would be the worst of all worlds, a truly ‘vassal state’. They would end up continuing to be subject to EU rules, without having any say in their framing.
Also, they would have to pay money into the EU budget.
So, any extension of the deadline will probably make the ultimate parting even more difficult.
If May is defeated next week, it is, in my view, yet again, another political nail in her government’s coffin.
The parliamentary arithmetic in Westminster is now so divided that, maybe, the best thing that could happen would be for a general election to be called, in order to relieve the political ‘pressure cooker’ in current British politics.
After the dusts settles, in a post-election situation, sounder minds may prevail in politics. A new government, possibly led by Labour, may have more leeway in nuancing the Brexit conundrum.
Of course, that would mean that Labour would have to ‘get its act together’.
While the Tories may have been ‘all over the place’ in the last few years, Labour, under Jeremy Corbyn, has been pretty rudderless too.
Instead of having a solid position on Brexit, it has tended to use the difficulties that May’s government finds itself in to score points for political advantage.
Indeed, if a Labour government were to take over, it would also have to ‘eat its words’ and reverse previous Brexit positions. But, as history shows, that’s rarely a problem for politicians.
A House divided: DUP’s Nigel Dodds, prime minister Theresa May and British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn all face crunch vote on Tuesday