Meet the new plan, the same as the old plan. Even though the Prime Minister has been utterly humiliated, she keeps going on. Theresa is missing the shame gene. It is now clear that Theresa May is giving the UK a lesson in masochism. It’s about the only sense in which the UK is able to punch above its weight. Or in this case, punch itself repeatedly in the groin.
Despite a historic defeat of 230 votes, the official policy of the British government is still to chase the pot of gold under the rainbow. The consultations with other parliamentarians has turned out to be talking to the extreme Brexist faction of the Tories and the DUP. The new deal is the same deal with some tweaks to the Irish backstop that the EU has already ruled out. The Irish government has said that it’s a non-starter. Dublin has categorically refused to consider a bilateral treaty between the UK and Ireland and refused to accept a five year time limit on the backstop, because they know that Albion is perfidious. The UK cannot be trusted to keep its word. We in Scotland know that all too well.
Yet Theresa May is still chasing after alterations to the Irish backstop that she cannot achieve. She’s trying to knit herself a parachute although she’s already jumped out of the plane. On Monday the German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas agreed with his Irish counterpart, saying, “I am completely with my Irish colleague. He has already said what he thinks of it, which is nothing.” Theresa could manage to cobble together enough support from the DUP and Rees-Mogg’s European Research Group, she could cajole, bribe, and threaten enough of her own MPs to back her, but it’s all for nothing if what she gets through the Commons is unacceptable to the EU. It’s as pointless and futile as finding a black cat in a darkened room when there is no cat.
Under normal circumstances a blind headlong rush after a fairy story would merely be an irritation which could be solved at the next general election, but in this instance the rainbow in question sits off a cliff with some very nasty rocks below.
Even now, even at this late stage, even as a no-deal looms, Theresa May is still far more concerned about keeping her own party together instead of trying to work with other parties in the greater interest of the UK as a whole. She talks about her precious union, but it’s evident that she means precious in the exact same sense as Gollum called the ring precious. As something to covet, to possess, and to control. She has no interest in what she can do for her so-called precious union, it’s all about what her precious union does for her.
There are fairies at the bottom of the Brexit garden, but the Scottish press is only interested in which side of the SNP civil war they’re on. Because that’s the real story here, right? Whatever is going on between Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon it is as nothing compared to the bloodletting and mutual sabotaging taking place with the Conservatives, the party of the British government, the party inflicting Brexit upon us all.
There is a very real and very bloody civil war going on within the Conservative party. The party is desperately trying to avoid an early general election because there is no manifesto that the Tories could stand on which would not result in one large faction or another splitting from the party. So instead the government is preoccupied with unicorns and leprachauns while the orcs of Brexit circle. It’s like we are all living in a very bad concept album from the 1970s, one created by people who have consumed industrial quantities of pharmaceuticals.
On Monday the BBC announced that Theresa May now says that the devolved administrations will have an “enhanced” role in the next phase of the Brexit discussions. It’s very easy to promise an enhanced role when the bar is set so low, up to now the concerns of the devolved administrations have been ignored and traduced. The British government has used Brexit as a weapon to undermine devolution. The Prime Minister is due to meet with Nicola Sturgeon and Mark Drayford, the new First Minister of Wales, in the coming week. Theresa has made promises like this before, but the delivery always falls short. She promised she’d listen to the devolved administrations in 2016. She didn’t. She promised she’d listen to the devolved administrations in 2017. She didn’t. She promised she’d listen to the devolved administrations in 2018. She didn’t. And here she is again promising to listen to the devolved administrations. She lied before and she’s lying now. In Theresa’s own words, nothing has changed. Nothing has changed. Precioussssss will be controlled.
We can be pretty certain that Theresa’s discussions will be framed in a similar way to the announcement made last week by David Mundell, who hasn’t resigned yet. David promised that everything was on the table for discussion, except those things that most voters in Scotland actually want. There will be no talk of another referendum, whether an EU one or a Scottish independence one. There will be no talk of suspending Article 50. There will most certainly be no talk of not having Brexit at all. There will be no talk of alterations to Theresa May’s red lines. Theresa is going through the motions of making like she’s busy, making like she’s consulting, but only in order to stall some more. She wants concessions from Holyrood, but has no interest in making any of her own.
The English author Samuel Butler said that the truest characters of ignorance are vanity, pride, and arrogance. All three are richly on display in Theresa May’s government. The bombast, vanity, pride, and arrogance of British nationalism is leading to its own destruction. It’s time for Scotland to prepare the lifeboat.
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