Yesterday the story could have been Labour’s to tell. Jeremy Corbyn could have stamped the Labour party’s mark on Brexit and alongside the SNP, the Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru, and the Greens he could have brought forward a motion of no confidence in the government and shown that there is substantial and principled opposition within the UK to the selfish insanity of a Conservative Brexit. He might very well have lost that vote, but it would have been close, and today Labour would be commanding the news agenda, demonstrating that sense and reason is possible in British politics.
They blew it. They blew it for the exact same reason that Theresa May blew it. They lacked the courage to take it to a vote. They lacked the understanding of symbolism in politics. They lacked vision. Now no one is talking about how the Labour party can seize control of the Brexit narrative.
Today the Tory leadership contest is the only show in town and British politics has turned into a forfochtin fanklefyke of galactic proportions. Because clusterbourach just doesn’t cut it any more. The requisite number of letters from disgruntled Tory MPs has been received by the Chair of the 1922 Committee, and a leadership election will take place if 158 MPs vote against Theresa in a secret ballot which is due to be held on Wednesday evening. If she wins, she’ll be safe in her job as the rules of the Conservative party prevent another leadership challenge for a year. If she loses, she will not be permitted to stand in the leadership election that will then be triggered. We will be told the result by around 9pm on Wednesday evening.
Yet again, the Conservative party has put the interests of the Conservative party first and foremost. There’s only a few short months left to go before the Brexit clock ticks its sorry last, and a substantial section of the Conservative party thinks that this is the ideal time for it to indulge itself in its internal battles. Let’s get this straight here. The Tories voted for Theresa a couple of years back, but now they think that voting for her wasn’t such a great idea and they want another vote. This seems like a good idea that could be implemented successfully elsewhere.
If Theresa May doesn’t manage to get the support of half the eligible Conservative MPs, there will be a leadership contest which is likely to take weeks to conclude. The new leader would be likely to be a Brexiter, who will take the deal back to the EU and who won’t get anything from the EU that Theresa with her fixation on ending freedom of movement wasn’t able to achieve. Dominic Raab C Brexit, David Davis, and Arlene Foster of the DUP have apparently teamed up to campaign for a “better deal”. This apparently entails magic technology, invisible borders, and lots of cake with cherries. But what do you expect when a woman from a party which doesn’t believe in dinosaurs teams up with a dinosaur. The truth is that if there was going to be a better deal on offer, someone would have come up with one by now.
However the chances are that Theresa May will win the vote this evening. This is what counts as reckless and foolhardy bravery in British political commentary these days by the way, making a prediction about what could happen in a couple of hours.
Winning the support of more than half of Conservative MPs isn’t necessarily enough by itself to ensure that an ailing leader remains in their job. If sufficient MPs vote against the leader, previous leaders have still felt the need to stand down out of a sense of principle. But then we’re talking about Theresa May here, a woman whose only principle is the inability to distinguish between being resolute and being stubbornly delusional. Conservatives don’t do resignations on points of principle any more. Just ask David Mundell.
Even if she scrapes home by just one vote she’s quite likely to hang on repeating her soundbites about getting on with the job and nothing has changed. Theresa May is the limpet of politics. Although that’s unfair to limpets as they have a greater understanding of their environment than Theresa does and a more highly developed central nervous system. The mess, the confusion, the political stalemate, is only going to continue. Clinging on as leader doesn’t make it any more likely that she’ll get her deal through the Commons when she does decide to put it to a vote. Clinging on as leader doesn’t make it any more likely that she’ll be able to cobble together some proposal that will enjoy the support of a majority in the Commons.
So, Better Together, are you still there? Are you listening? Although you’re almost certainly not because what we’ve learned over the past few sorry years is that nae bugger in the British establishment listens to Scotland. But on the offchance that you are – about that security and stability that you promised us …
However, even if she does win, Theresa May will preside over a party that’s divided and at war with itself. There will most certainly be a substantial number of her MPs who will vote against her, and they will have no incentive to get behind her leadership. They’ll be sullen, uncooperative, and will continue to plot, conspire, and put obstacles in her way. And even worse than that, we’ll have a Prime Minister who has learned that sticking her fingers in her ears and going la-la-la I’m not listening is a successful tactic.
The UK is enmeshed in a forfochten fanklefyke with no clear means of untangling itself. Everyone outside the Conservative party is looking on with dismay. Everyone outside the UK is looking on incredulously and with increasing frustration. Remember when Scotland was told that by remaining a part of the UK we’d be able to punch above our weight? Well it turns out that all it meant was that we’d be able to punch ourselves in the balls far more forcefully than we would have if we were left to our own devices.
If having a vote is good enough for Tory MPs, it’s good enough for Scotland. The difference is that a Scottish vote would actually solve the problem once and for all.
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