The great defeat

After delays, prevarications, and attempts to sideline Parliament, Theresa May finally put her deal to the House of Commons on Tuesday. Theresa May never wanted this vote. She wanted to ram her deal through Parliament without any vote at all. Today we discovered just why she was so reluctant to put the matter to a vote, this Prime Minister who preaches to us about respecting democratic votes. The government achieved 202 votes. Her opponents got 432.

The majority by which Theresa May lost was greater than the total number of MPs who backed her. 118 Conservative MPs voted against their own government. It was one of the greatest defeats for a government in the history of the British Parliament.

If Theresa May had had her way this deal would have been forced upon the UK without any meaningful say from that House of Commons whose sovereignty Brexit was supposed to restore but which the Prime Minister has done her utmost to muzzle. Today the Commons bit back, and bit back hard.

To lose by such a margin on the central policy of the government was a stunning defeat, a defeat which would have made any other Prime Minister resign. But this is not a normal government and Theresa May is not a normal Prime Minister. She got herself into this mess because she refused to face reality, and she shows every sign of continuing to do so, the Monty Python Black Knight of British politics. No normal politician can survive this degree of humiliation, but the humiliation algorithms are missing from Theresa May’s operating system. She’s as likely to resign as Tommy Robinson is to convert to Islam. Only now that I’ve written that that’s probably what she’ll do. That’s just how uncertain and unstable British politics are just now. How’s that security and stability of the UK working out for you all?

The Prime Minister had the unmitigated gall, just before the vote, to call upon MPs of all parties to set aside their differences and work together in the national interest. The very reason she suffered a defeat of such magnitude was precisely because during the two and a half years since the Brexit referendum, Theresa May has refused to listen to anyone, has been unable or unwilling to concede that other points of view exist, never mind make accommodations with them, and has worked solely in the interests of the Conservative party.

The full extent of the defeat might have come as something of a surprise, but not the defeat itself. All day, the news was full of interviews with Tory backbenchers who were going to reject their Prime Minister’s deal, the kind which the party managers usually strive to keep away from the telly cameras, and with very good reason. Some of them looked deeply creepy, the kind of person who’d go for a ride on a ghost train and come out with a job offer as an exhibit.

The DUP’s Sammy Wilson came out of the funfair to inform us that that the magnitude of the defeat made it more likely that the EU would do what it has consistently said it won’t do, and renegotiate. Sammy thinks that the EU will be so shocked by just how resoundingly the deal was rejected that they’ll do all they can to help Theresa May to come up with a deal which is more acceptable to the likes of Sammy. It was the clearest example you could ever wish for of the magical thinking that characterises Brexit.

What the size of this defeat has done has been to derail Theresa May’s Plan B, which was to keep repeating Plan A until everyone else was bored and battered into submission. It seems that if the defeat had been less than 100, the Prime Minister intended to keep returning to Parliament with marginally tweaked versions of it until it might finally squeeze through. That she lost by 230 votes means that strategy is now a non-starter. The problem is that she doesn’t appear to have any other.

As soon as the result was announced, Jeremy Corbyn called a motion of no confidence, which is due to be debated tomorrow (Wednesday). Jeremy, in the event that he’s successful in bringing down the government, will campaign in the General Election for his own version of Brexit. So much for that internationalism of the Labour movement then.

However the DUP and the European Research Group of hardline Tory Brexists have both confirmed that they’ll be voting to support the government. The likelihood is that Theresa May will survive the no confidence vote. The DUP and the ERG might hate Theresa’s Brexit deal, but they hate Jeremy Corbyn even more. They might not like the Northern Irish backstop, but they’re fully on board with cutting the income of disabled people, the burgeoning use of foodbanks, the rise in homelessness and rough sleeping, cutting public services to the bone, and flogging off the NHS to American corporations.

So where are we now? We have a Parliament which is opposed to no deal, but a government which refuses to rule one out. If Parliament is opposed to no deal but no one can propose an actual deal that’s going to get sufficient support, where does that leave the UK?

The SNP MP Joanna Cherry has proposed a national unity government, which the SNP could support in return for the transfer to Holyrood of the power to hold an indy ref and control of immigration within Scotland. She says this government could suspend Article 50 and call another referendum on retaining EU membership, no deal, or some version of a deal. Unfortunately Labour doesn’t seem disposed to look favourably to this idea at the moment, even though it has the advantage of being palatable to those Conservative backbenchers who put avoiding no deal before their support of Theresa May. The DUP’s stranglehold on the government would then be broken. Perhaps once Jeremy’s motion of no confidence fails then Labour may be willing to consider Joanna’s plan. It seems unlikely, but when all that is left is a choice between the implausible and the impossible, it’s the implausible which wins.

No one knows what’s going to happen. No one can say where all this is going to end up. No one is certain where we’ll all be in a few days, never mind a few months or years. All that can be said for certain is that when Scotland was in the midst of its independence referendum campaign back in 2014, we were assured that it was only by remaining a part of the UK that Scotland could enjoy political stability, economic certainty, and the safety and security of a state which was a major player within the EU. We were sold a pup. Whatever happens with Brexit, Scotland needs a say on whether it wants to remain a part of this dysfunction. Then we can deliver the British nationalists who have created this sorry mess a great defeat of our own.


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44 comments on “The great defeat

  1. Dave tewart says:

    In the parallel universe that Sammy Wilson lives in it might just be that the EU would throw in the towel.
    In the world we inhabit i’m thinking he really needs some professional help.
    Will the tory men in grey suits pounce tonight and remove the Maybot or just leave her in place until March. Who knows but it all seems madness.
    A good response Paul but lost to the Unionists.

  2. Alasdair Macdonald says:

    “… when Scotland was in the midst of its independence referendum campaign back in 2014, we were assured that it was only by remaining a part of the UK that Scotland could enjoy political stability, economic certainty, and the safety and security of a state which was a major player within the EU.” But, the unionists already have their answer: ‘things will be even worse for Scotland if it tries to become independent now, it is far too we and not very good.’ It is an ‘exceptionalist’ argument, despite the fact that it is the pro-independence groups who face the jibe of ‘exceptionalism’. They mean that Scotland is ‘exceptional’ in that its people are not genetically programmed to run their own affairs like the Maltese, Cypriots, Icelanders, Latvians, Costa Ricans, etc.

  3. patricknelson750 says:

    “The Prime Minister had the unmitigated gall, just before the vote, to call upon MPs of all parties to set aside their differences and work together in the national interest.”

    Which they went ahead and did by voting down the worse deal imaginable.

  4. hoplite39 says:

    We now now how bad Putin is because he is the only person who has managed to make May look good.

  5. Macart says:

    That went pretty much as expected. The result? Political chaos in the UK. I’d wish the meeja luck sorting through that, but…

    The hot takes and spin tomorrow will be a sight to behold. How and ever, what they’re looking at are two pro brexit parties vying for the big chair who have a great many members and MPs who are pro remain. A UK total population equally as divided. At least two members of the Union are vehemently pro remain and so a couple of very imminent constitutional crises and a parliament in meltdown.

    What was it Fox promised about a deal with the EU being ‘easiest thing in human history’? Folk were promised a great many things by Tories of all hues four years ago. Broad economic shoulders, stability, job and pension security, huge meaningful devolved powers, a parliament entrenched in the UKs constitution, a Sewell convention worth a damn. And oh yes, security of membership WITHIN the EU. A few other bits and bobs right enough, but those were the standout pledges to Scotland’s citizens.

    Westminster politicians and their promises. What are they like, eh? 🙄

  6. annraynet says:

    Keep an eye on Joanba Cherry. I’m not sure other Westminster parties will go along with her suggestion of a coalition which includes the SNP but so far I think she’s the only person to keep on saying that Westminster can have Brexit or their preciousss union but not both.
    SNP early on proposed Scotland and N Ireland, who both voted remain, being allowed to stay in the customs Union, single market and allow free movement. Time to look again at this plan?

  7. angriscot says:

    These three sentences hit the nail on the head:

    No one knows what’s going to happen. No one can say where all this is going to end up. No one is certain where we’ll all be in a few days, never mind a few months or years.

    To my mind, this was the whole point.

    We’re being played.

  8. “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”
    We are at the gates of Brit Nat Hell.
    Abandon hope ,all ye, who enter here.
    England’s Inferno; Eurmaggedon.
    202 Ayes, 432 Noes, yet still she stumbles on with no shame or sense of failure.
    Corbyn wants to leave the EU, and has called for a vote of No confidence which he knows he will not win; but let’s repeat the same thing again, and again, until?
    Blackford could not have been clearer.
    We Scots will not be fooled no mo’.
    A People’s Vote is our last offer, then Indyref 2.
    Very eloquently summarised,Paul.
    That we subject ourselves to two or three years of English Rule post whatever Brexit WM cobbles together seems a distant dangerous option now.

    • Dave Hansell says:

      There is a point here in which it seems reasonable to surmise I ‘m struggling to comprehend.

      From the strategic point of view of achieving success in an independence vote I don’t get the prioritising of the PV.

      On the assumption of a second referendum on UK EU membership taking place (and there are practical real time difficulties in achieving that even after having overcome the hurdles of getting it through this Parliament and extending A50 before the EU elections period begins in which the UK seats have already been reallocated on the presumption of a UK EU exit) one of the potential outcomes of such a referendum is the UK remaining as an EU member.

      Such an outcome would remove one of the key arguments in favour of Scottish independence – that it is being dragged out of the EU against its will contrary to promises made during the 2014 independence referendum campaign – and logically would damage the independence cause.

      What am I missing here please?

      • Dave, the SNP have to be seen to attempting to stop Engwaland making a fool of themselves; otherwisw the Blue Red and Yellow Tories would trot out the old meme; ‘The SNP is only interested in leaving the UK.’
        Well we are going to vote for Self Determination, but only after May and Corbyn have played out this farce.
        They’ve been at it all day today.
        Corbyn knows that his vote of Confidence will fail; he doesn’t have the numbers.
        Yet he triggered this pointless exercise anyway.
        Why?
        Both he and May are committed to Brexit, so feck the 48% who voted Remain.
        Feck the 62% of Scots citizens who voted Remain.

        Even if Corbyn fluked a win tonight, and May’s Government fell, bot Red and Blue Tories, because despite Corbyn and McDonnell declaring that they are socialists they are not, they are English ‘conservatives’, the two Brit Nat Big Guns would campaign on a Brexit ticket.

        EngWaland is leaving Europe 29th March, end of story.
        When Corbyn is defeated later today, May will kick the can down the road until next Monday, wasting nearly another week.

        A cross party attempt will be made to hold a second People’s Vote, but the numbers aren’t there at the moment.

        No Deal will loom large on the horizon in three or four weeks of bluster and guffawing in the HoC, and nothing will change.

        By mid February, the People’s Vote will be the only option and support will increase, because Parliament has already decreed that No Deal is not an option.

        The SNP are playing the long game.

        To announce their intention to hold Indyref 2 as England falls will not be popular, or ‘allowed’.

        But the 35 SNP MPs are behaving like honest parliamentarians and fighting the good fight for their Scottish constituents.(Unlike 10 Blue Tory ProudScotsBut who voted for May’s Dug’s Brexit.)

        There will not be a People’s Vote at the 11th hour.
        They won’t get the numbers,
        The EU will agree to a short extension, and Brexit will stagger over the finish line late in April.
        It is then that we strike.
        The ‘material change.’ Taken out of the EU against the wishes of the Scottish People.

        Then is the time to announce Indyref 2 and a four month campaign.

        Nobody is going to say we didn’t try to help our neighbours out.
        As an aside, to all pensioners who voted NO, the DWP just removed Pensions Credit for citizens reaching 65 whose partner is still of working age.
        Our poorest pensioners may lose between £5 and £7 thousand a year.
        They are scum. There is no other word for it.
        It is time to take our country back. Any minute now, Dave.

        • Macart says:

          Political carnage almost complete and warnings by SNP parliamentarians delivered fair n’ square. The FM has fulfilled the duties of her post as Scotland’s head of government.

          Popcorn? 😎

  9. After the no confidence vote fails tomorrow, we should be heading for our own referendum. The power grab and everything else associated with the mess of Brexit is too dangerous for Scotland. We have to go.

  10. Molly McC says:

    Is it possible that when the No Confidnce vote happens on Wednesday….and fails, this will give the First Minister and the Scottish Governement the impetus they have been waiting for, to call Indyref2?
    I live in hope!

  11. Iona says:

    ‘when Scotland was in the midst of its independence referendum campaign back in 2014, we were assured that it was only by remaining a part of the UK that Scotland could enjoy political stability, economic certainty, and the safety and security of a state which was a major player within the EU. We were sold a pup’

    What a great billboard that would make, Paul.

  12. Iain says:

    Sammy Wilson also said he’ll tell the EU what’s what.
    And the EU responded with “Who?”.

  13. astytaylor says:

    “I pray every single day, for a revolution”
    From 4 Non Blondes, Whats Up.

  14. Tol says:

    This deal is a giant decoy.

    Any deal that included so many red-flags to that many MPs was never intended to pass. It just was enough to create plausible deniability.

    If you look at MPs who want Brexit, I suspect “No Deal” actually has the majority in parliament…only no one wants to be caught carrying the can.

    Given their actions, it looks like Brexit MPs are all playing to have No-Deal Brexit by running the clock down and be the last party standing (giving them all those delicious Henry VIII powers). This is why Westminster fought tooth and nail to stop the Article 50 revocability case. They wanted the public to be able to blame everyone else…because there was only one option.

    Seriously this has been 2 years of a giant game of hot potato.

    • Cubby says:

      My prediction: no deal. United Ireland. Independent Scotland. Britnat tears cause major flooding throughout UK.

      • Tol says:

        That would be the best outcome for Scotland…

        But I fear the worst is more likely…Scotland chained to a sinking England. Given Westminster’s history, they will go to any and all lengths to keep the “magic money tree”. Just look to NI…and they didn’t have oil.

      • astytaylor says:

        Aye, combined with rising sea levels…
        London, no more.

      • patricknelson750 says:

        United Ireland isn’t happening any time soon, N.Irish Protestants are reasonably frightened of becoming an underdog minority and the gay Hindu abortionist Taoiseach is not exactly a turn on for either community.

        Also most of the Britnat tears in people under 55 would be in N.Ireland and Scotland among the Orange types.

        Leftwing and Centrist English mostly support Scottish Independence, even though they will loose by it, and Sun reading “Ingerlanders” would be delighted to get a country that didn’t have confusing appendages with their own national football teams and “fanny axents”. They would also be delighted to get a flag that they were capable of drawing.

  15. MI5 Troll says:

    Strong and stable indeed. In fooball terms Scotland is standing right in front of an open goal while the other team have stayed in the dressing room having a fight with each other. We need to go now, get out quick. This is the year. This is the time.

  16. Macart says:

    How others in Europe view yesterday’s wee drama.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRzcABEGzlQ

  17. Dave says:

    “The SNP MP Joanna Cherry has proposed a national unity government, which the SNP could support in return for the transfer to Holyrood of the power to hold an indy ref and control of immigration within Scotland.”

    The SNP should be demanding more than that, rights over broadcasting and even Devo-Max should be the price Westminster has to pay for their support.

  18. Graham says:

    Joanna Cherry is a right wee mischief maker (in a good way)
    It wasn’t so long ago she was teasing a “democratic event” to deliver independence….?

    Corbyn will be the loser today.
    So once that happens, where next?
    Is there any solution which WM can agree on?
    Even if it can be agreed to hold EUref2 would it deliver a different result?

    Questions, questions….

  19. Robert Graham says:

    I have just watched the Tory MSPs performance at Hollywood ,oh dear ,oh dear , I had to watch it again because i honestly couldn’t believe what I was watching , I dont think I have ever witnessed a political party so out of touch and out of step with normal accepted opinion in Scotland I include all parties except this rancid group of self centred cretins ,
    Thomson the professor appeared to lead this gang today ,his performance was out of this world , he said he was against a NO deal Brexit then amazingly went on to say the ones who voted against his leaders doomed deal brought a NO result closer , he then castigated the 35 SNP MPs for voting against it before it was pointed out well over a hundred Tory MPs did likewise instead of learning from this baffling statement more Tory MSPs echoed this off the wall statement ,god preserve us from loonatics like these Tories ,who in their right mind would vote for these people.

  20. I was told last night that brexit was doomed from the start because the “leader” of the Bank of England supports remain, as do the London newspapers. I asked for links to prove that but nothing arrived. The same people urged us all to work together “for the sake of the country” (they didn’t say which one), but also said the ‘remoaners’ would pay for their disloyalty. Way to get us all working together…

    Like most people, I don’t know how we deal with this situation but I do know that the Tories and Labour are working to an old script: the one that pits one-nation-Tories against international-socialist-Labour. Very suitable for the 1970s. No use for today’s conditions.

  21. Aberdeen dipped to -11% overnight.
    Jackson Carlaw will table a motion of No Confidence in NS’ Government for allowing temperatures to fall so dangerously low on her watch.
    He ‘will say’ that she has taken her eye off the ball with her preoccupation with Sex Pest Allegations against the former FM.

    He will accuse her of using Mr Salmond’s bit of bad luck as an excuse not to get on with the day job, robbing poor pensioners of thousands of pounds of Pension Credit, making sure that food left overs and apple stumps are placed in the appropriate schools recycling bin so that starving pupils have ease of access to top up the glass of water they had for breakfast, and ensuring a really hostile environment for the 180,000 EU Johnny Furriners working here.
    Richard Leonard will demand that that BAD EssEnnPee Council in Glasgow thank Rhea Wolfson of Momentum for resolving the Equal Pay Dispute before so much time had elapsed that all of the victims had died off.

    29th of March is our Colony Day, Scotland!
    If we leave the EU on that day, and England is in control, we are well and truly shafted.

  22. Scott Surgener says:

    Bolt,while the door’s open. Run Scotland run.

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