Sock washing and constitutional crises

So you finally get around to doing the pile of washing that’s been staring at you in the dirty clothes basket since you got back from your holidays, you make a proper dent on the housework, go to the supermarket, all those wee chores that you’ve been putting off, and while you’re doing so there’s an actual constitutional crisis. That’s the safety and stability of the UK for you, you can’t even sort out your dirty socks without British democracy receding faster than Iain Duncan Smith’s hairline.

Suspicion has been growing amongst MPs that Theresa May isn’t perhaps quite as deluded as she would like the rest of us to believe, and that despite her repeated assertions to the contrary she knows fine well that she’s got as much chance of her Brexit deal winning a majority in the Commons as there is of the DUP regaling her with a resounding chorus of Ave Maria. Theresa May is many things. She’s obdurate, stubborn, pig-headed, and a party tribalist who puts the interests of the Tories above all other considerations, but she’s not actually stupid. She can count. She can see the numbers. And she knows that she doesn’t have the votes. She’s just not prepared to admit it in public. She’s very clear about that, if nothing else.

The Prime Minister knows that she’s not going to get her deal through the Commons when it’s put to a vote next week, and so what she’s really doing is playing a game of chicken with Parliament to use up as much time as possible so that MPs will vote for her deal at the very last minute before Brexit day in order to avoid the no-deal Brexit that’s only wanted by the likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg. She’s risking the disaster of a no-deal in order that there will be no time for any other of the possible options to be voted on, no chance to delay or derail Brexit, and no chance for one of the much softer Brexit options which would preserve freedom of movement.

Since the main selling point of Brexit was that the British Parliament could take back control, MPs are less than impressed that the Prime Minister and her government are trying to impose a false choice on the Commons and doing all she can to reduce their opportunities to make an informed and meaningful decision. Admittedly we’re talking here of an institution which has Ross Thomson, Chris Grayling, and Hugh Gaffney in it, so it could be argued that reducing the opportunity of the Commons to make a meaningful choice is an act of prudence similar to removing a box of matches from a toddler. Unfortunately in this instance the person taking the matches off the toddler is an arsonist with a crateful of petrol filled bottles stopped with greasy rags.

Faced with a Government which is threatening arson if it doesn’t get its way, MPs have been taking steps to reduce the ability of the Government to lob its bottles at the British economy and body politic. Yesterday 20 Tory MPs voted with the opposition parties to support an amendment tabled by Labour’s Yvette Cooper to put the hems on some of the government’s tax powers in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The amendment was largely symbolic, but it was a humiliating defeat for the Government and demonstrated that there is no majority in Parliament for a no-deal Brexit.

Then today, the Government faced an even more serious defeat. Rebel Tory MP Dominic Grieve tabled an amendment to the Government’s business motion for the Brexit debate. The amendment compels Theresa May to come back to the Commons within three days if, as is likely, her deal fails in the vote due next week. A previous amendment introduced by Dominic Grieve and passed by MPs means that any alternative plan which the Prime Minister comes back with will itself be subject to amendments by MPs, meaning that the Commons will be able to debate and vote upon alternatives.

It had been thought that Dominic Grieve’s amendment would not be accepted by the Speaker, as traditionally government business motions are not allowed to be altered. However the Speaker ruled otherwise, much to the anger of the Government and its supporters. Over the catcalls and jeers of Conservative MPs, he insisted that his job was not to make life easier for the Executive, but to protect and defend the rights of Parliament.

How very dare the Parliament that the Brexists say they’re determined to restore sovereignty to act as though it was sovereign. Today we saw what happens when your self-serving rhetoric jumps up and bites you on the bum. It’s undemocratic for Parliament to take back control from a government that won’t listen but which says it’s working to restore control to parliament. But then this is the same government which claims that having another referendum would be undemocratic, because apparently more democracy means less democracy. The only meaningful vote that Theresa May wants is her own.

When the amendment came to the vote, the Government lost. The amendment passed by 308 votes to 297. Theresa May will now be obliged to return to the Commons with an alternative plan within three days of her Brexit deal failing to pass, instead of the 21 days that she previously had. With the Brexit clock ticking, and Brexit day looming on March 29, every day is precious. Allowing Theresa May three weeks following the defeat of her deal would have meant she could return to the Commons with substantially the same deal as before, but with time having run out on any alternatives. That’s now become far harder for her to do.

The next few weeks are likely to be every bit as febrile and rancorous. A chaotic no-deal Brexit remains a very real possibility. But so does an early General Election, another EU referendum, or some version of a Brexit deal. How’s that safety, security, and stability of the UK that Scotland was promised back in 2014 working out for you all? Forget all the cant about being a partner in a family of nations. Forget the slogans about Scotland punching above its weight as part of the UK. There’s no certainty about anything, and Scotland gets to sit on the sidelines, powerless and ignored while our fate is decided for us by people who have zero consideration for our interests or desires. This is what this so-called union really means. It means not being able to wash your socks without being a passive and helpless witness to a constitutional crisis that threatens to blight livelihoods, opportunities, and lives.

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22 comments on “Sock washing and constitutional crises


    spot on the Dug .

  2. Macart says:

    I’ve worked with images for almost thirty years Paul, but you have a knack for painting with words which is a rare talent.

    Yes, today was the day where Brexit chaos became official. There isn’t enough time left for anything meaningful to come from Westminster (bar another snap GE). There can be no extension of anything without the say so of the twenty seven member states of the EU. The UK’s parliament has only one unilateral option. That of calling off Brexit altogether. The only possible delay allowable is the GE I mentioned above. Anything else is… for the cameras. (shrugs)

    This: HERE

    Effectively, this news means that the deal struck with the EU is already under imminent threat regardless of the vote next week. I’m guessing the EU won’t be best pleased. (understatement of the year)

    ‘Strong and stable’ or ‘better together’. Both redundant. Both pretty much fibs of biblical proportions. The UK system of government and politics brought low by its own practices. The populations of the UK endangered by the system and practice of politics forced down their throats as a fait accompli.

    Except it’s not.

    There is another way folks. Just sayin’. 🙂

    • Jim Moris says:

      The one thing they cannot do is cancel Brexit. There is no time to discuss and vote on all the new laws (especially the finance ones) which have been agreed by the 27 other member democracies planning to start them on April 1st. The penalties for non-compliance would be substantial, maybe even comparable to the tax burden which would be placed on individuals and companies right up to the tope of the 1%.

  3. Thepnr says:

    John Bercow the speaker of the house of commons. I think the man’s a hero and will become the most important person in the HoC in the next few weeks.

    I never knew what a “speakers” job was and I doubt many of the public do but having watched so much parliament TV I see it is a very important job. Despite him being a Tory I have every belief that he will stick to the principles of the job and that is to remain impartial and work on behalf of parliament and not the government.

    We might just have got lucky here that is those of us that want to remain in the EU. Bercow is the only man that can open that door against the will of the government. Maybe get a wee bit more of “democracy” at last.

    All I’ll say is that at least I’m hopeful.

    • Illy says:

      Meh, he’s told SNP MPs to fuck off for following the rules before.

      Kills any concept of him being a “hero” when he actually starts doing his job.

      • Yeah, yeah steady on Thepnr! We’re talking about the squeaker of the mother f***er of all parliaments here! Don’t get carried away with all this Westminster shenanigan bullshit. He’s part of the establishment we’re trying to escape. He’s no hero, he’s a zero.

        • Thepnr says:

          “Technically there is no way that amendment should have been voted on. The government had put forward the same updated business motion for the new debate on her deal as it had last year. And that motion said that only ministers could amend the motion – not parliament. But then Bercow did something extraordinary. He selected it for a vote anyway. And MPs passed it by 308 votes to 297 – a majority of 11.

          You can’t overstate what this means. Brexit-supporting Tory MPs in the Chamber were livid. And they were right that this was an unprecedented step. That business motion had been passed by the Commons in December. Bercow was effectively overriding the votes of MPs denying themselves power. He did not put it this way, of course. He said it hinged on an interpretation of whether an amendment is a motion. But most constitutional experts disagree.”

      • Thepnr says:

        This is true and as we all know he told the SNP off for clapping and cheering. I didn’t think him a hero then, no just an arsehole. But see now I think, well he was applying the rules as he thought them to be and that’s what a referee does isn’t it?

        That being said right now in my very humble opinion he’s a hero for going against the government and the party he was an MP for in order that Parliament have it’s say on this Brexit absolute mess. That can’t be easy even on a personal level never mind in his job. If you thought he got dogs abuse today I’d suggest you’ve seen nothing yet as to what might happen in the next few short weeks.

        You know what he might be the difference between No deal or something else. In fact I’m pretty sure he will be so watch this space.

        • Alasdair Macdonald says:

          I think you have a point. Mr Bercow might have perpetrated a number of baleful, spiteful, pompous stupid things in the past, but yesterday, he did something constructive as the immediate ad hominem attacks from such as Mrs Leadsom indicated.

          If someone who hated, say, Ms Ruth Davidson, were choking and she performed the Heimlich manoeuvre succefully, would he/she immediately reckoned her/himself after making a sign: ‘Only people with as impeccable opinions as mine can seek to deliver first aid on me’?

  4. fairliered says:

    John Bercow is possibly the only person that can stop the tories arson about with democracy. What a scary thought! The sooner we are independent the better.

  5. “It’s undemocratic for Parliament to take back control from a government that won’t listen but which says it’s working to restore control to parliament.” This sound like something akin to Joseph Heller’s worst nightmare! Or is it an Abbott and Costello skit? Or did George Orwell predict this? Or was Nostradamus.. oh, forget it.

  6. Thepnr says:

    Bercow is NOT a hero? Then check out what The Telegraph; The Daily Mail; The Sun; The Express and The Times think for tomorrows front pages.

    I believe you might have cause to change your mind when you can appreciate the agony it has caused these bastards,

  7. Jaguar Land Rover is cutting its UK workforce by 12.5 %. or 5000 jobs to go in a 40,000 workforce.
    The BBC cover it up by blaming a slump in sales in China, diesel cars, and, oh yes, uncertainty about Brexit.
    Almost whispering it, they conclude the report by adding that the Motor Giant is recruiting 3000 to their new plant in..Slovakia.
    One in five children in England go to bed hungry.
    Retailers have recorded their worst Christmas in ten years, 2008, the Year of the Financial Fiddle.
    It is suggested that ‘consumers’ spent on Christmas as usual, but put off other expenditures because of the financial uncertainty of Brexit.
    The precast concrete surrounding WM ‘s Wall of silence is crumbling and crashing into the Thames as reality bites, and Bercow is painted as a Traitor.
    They’re scrambling around trying to pin the blame on ANYONE.
    Not long now before the Bad EssEnnPee will be blamed for everything from Brexit to smaller Wagon Wheel biscuits.
    Not long now ’til the US, Japanese and S Korean car makers start to pull up sticks and head for Northern Europe; hopefully Free Scotland will be considered for inward investment.
    Meanwhile 600 buffoons dance the dance of the Devil in the Palace of Westminster.
    They are actually going to play out this farce for another wasteful 5 days, when the outcome is known now; May’s Withdrawal agreement is dead and has been since the halcyon Chequers days.

    The world of Westminster is about to implode.
    Get the popcorn out.

    • Andy Anderson says:

      Regarding Japanese businesses in the UK all of them will move to the EU due to Brexit. Last autumn the EU and Japan signed the worlds best trade deal with trade tariffs dropping to 2% over the next ten years. No way will they stay if we leave. Meanwhile Liam Fox our superb writer of trade deals can get on with his six years of trade talks with Tokyo.

      A disgrace that a government can do this. To me they should go to prison for misuse of public office. Bastards.

    • Andy Anderson says:

      The Jaguar plant in Bratislava is going to manufacture the Discovery. They will come of the line early this year. They have lots of land for expansion.

      • Andy Anderson says:

        BMW have just finished refurbishing a mothballed plant in the Netherlands rumoured to be for the Mini.

  8. bringiton says:

    The Brexiteers have been out to get Bercow since he told Trump that he wouldn’t be welcomed in the HoC.
    Pay back time.

  9. Macart says:

    Oh, this needs to be heard and spread as far as possible.

    Mhairi Black HERE.

    • Molly McC says:

      Thanks for the link Sam.
      All I can say is…”Gon Yersel Mairi”!!!!
      What a great MP she is.

      • Macart says:

        She’s not wrong. 😉

        ‘Course if folk watch the general tenor of the SNP statements in Commons over the the piece, but particularly of recent months?

        Let’s just say that the ol’ spidey sense is tingling. 😎

    • Andy Anderson says:


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