Has anyone worked out what Britain’s stance on Brexit is yet? Because if they have could they please inform the Conservative government and the Labour party. Conservative ministers brief and counter brief against one another. David Davis disagrees with Phil Hammond. Phil Hammond disagrees with Liam Fox. Liam Fox disagrees with Boris Johnson. Everyone disagrees with Michael Gove. Although to be fair everyone has always disagreed with Michael Gove. Meanwhile the Labour party leadership issues one vague statement on Brexit after another, dancing around the question of membership of the Single Market like a horny 18 year old male virgin who keeps walking past the newagents but is too feart to go in and look at the top shelf magazines in case a friend of his granny sees him.
All that your average member of the public is seeing is an inchoate and bad tempered mess, which is indeed pretty much what members of the government and the Labour leadership, not to mention the EU, are seeing too. We’re now almost 15 months since the EU referendum vote, and seven months since Theresa May triggered Article 50, formally informing the EU of the UK’s intention to leave, and starting the big scary countdown clock. The countdown clock is ticking, but this mob can’t even solve the simplest Countdown conundrum: EW’RE UFCKED.
Remember how they told us in 2014 that Scotland would be much safer and more secure by relying on the broad shoulders, expertise and prestige of the United Kingdom? Oh how we laugh. A hollow bitter laugh, a laugh that covers for the hysteria and panic. Let’s face it, the United Kingdom couldn’t negotiate its way out of an empty car park with a man with a flag walking in front of the car. It has the expertise of a bill-less duck in an accountancy exam. It has all the prestige of a blow up sex doll in a convent. The United Kingdom bears as much relationship to a halfway decent and competent government as a 1970s DJ does to a much loved and respected celebrity. Waking up in this United Kingdom makes you want to pull the duvet over your head and hope that you’ve just been having a deeply unpleasant and surreal dream.
This week Westminster has been debating the Conservative government’s Brexit Bill, otherwise known as the “We’re Going to Take All Power But Have No Clue What to Do with It” Bill. The Bill is packed full of some very dodgy provisions that Del Boy Trotter would have a hard time putting a decent gloss on. There’s the infamous Henry VIII powers, which give this bunch of incompetents the legal authority to make primary legislation, which is a bit like giving a wayward toddler a box of matches, a can of petrol, and a shed full of explosives. As the name suggests, the provision dates back to Henry VIII, a time before the United Kingdom existed. If you needed an illustration of how the so-called Union is really the incorporation of Scotland into the unitary state of Greater England, there’s your proof right there.
Another more realistic title for this Bill would be the Shafting the Devolved Administrations Bill. The Labour party in Wales is pretty upset about what the Conservatives in Westminster are proposing to do to the devolution settlement, the Labour party in Scotland not so much. The Labour party in Scotland doesn’t think that it’s its job to oppose the Conservatives in Westminster, what with them being the government of this glorious union and all that. It’s not that the Labour party in Scotland doesn’t have a spine, it’s just that they sold it for funding for the Better Together campaign. These days Ruth Davidson uses it as a perch for her photo opportunities.
The only people more spineless and supine than the Labour party in Scotland are those Conservative backbenchers who support Remain. One after another in the debate in the House of Commons they stood up to voice their concerns and regrets about the shortcomings of this bill and the damage that it might create, but none of them were concerned enough to vote against the government. But even they seemed like resolutely principled martyrs in comparison to the two Labour MPs who abstained. Caroline Flint and Frank Field didn’t oppose the Bill on account of the fact that it would be a betrayal of the referendum result to insist on a Brexit that’s not a complete and utter disaster that destroys the economy and diminishes the power of a parliament the protection of whose sovereignty was a key part of the leave campaign. The people voted for red white and blue coloured unicorns, and Frank and Caroline don’t think it’s their job to tell their constituents that unicorns don’t exist.
The Bill passed by 36 votes. Scotland’s Conservative MPs, every single one of whom represents a constituency where a majority voted to remain, voted with the government. That’s the Scottish Tories for you, you can always rely on them to stand up and do what is needed, what’s needed by a Conservative Government that is. Who cares what Scotland needs, the Conservatives certainly don’t. On Tuesday the Scottish Conservatives said that they were willing to enter talks with the SNP and the other Scottish parties to discuss changes that could be made to the Bill in order to ensure that it gains the support of Holyrood. The Tories had their chance to speak up and insist on changes to the Bill in Westminster on Monday, they refused to take that chance.
This Brexit Bill is a naked and opportunistic power grab on the part of the Westminster Parliament. The Conservatives intend to rip up the devolution settlement. Whereas the previous assumption underlying devolution was that all powers are devolved except those which are specifically reserved, this bill turns that assumption on its head. All powers will return to the Westminster Parliament, and then it will decide which, if any, it’s going to restore to the devolved administrations. Since Holyrood doesn’t have the legal power to change some of the laws in devolved areas in competencies which are currently exercised by the EU, the bill actually represents an increase of Westminster’s power over Holyrood. And the Tories still have the utter gall to claim that Brexit means that Scotland will get more power. When the countdown clock finally ticks down, Westminster is going to discover that the Critical Unionist Toss of the Brexit Bill is a countdown conundrum for Constitutional Crisis.
The Wee Ginger Dug has got a new domain name, thanks to Indy Poster Boy, Colin Dunn @Zarkwan. http://www.indyposterboy.scot/ You can now access this blog simply by typing www.weegingerdug.scot into the address bar of your browser, the old address continues to function, the new one redirects to the blog. The advantage of the new address is that it’s a lot easier to remember if you want to include a link to the blog in leaflets, posters, or simply to tell a friend about it. Many thanks to Colin.
Wee Ginger Fundraiser
I’m doing a fundraiser this year to keep this blog going for another twelve month and to allow the dug and me to continue visiting local groups all across Scotland. You can donate via my crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo –
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