According to reports, the small elitist group of arch-Brexists in the Tory party who attended a meeting with Theresa May at Chequers over the weekend have taken to calling themselves the Grand Wizards. You know, what the leaders of the Ku Klux Klan call themselves, so that’s terribly reassuring. Only it’s not so much a burning cross on the lawn as it is a binfire in parliament.
But it’s true that the Grand Wizards of the European Research Group are magic, their intransigence has managed to make the UK’s reputation for stable democratic institutions and pragmatism disappear, along with their own preference for a no-deal Brexit. They’re what you’d get if you mated Sauron with Mr Bean. Jacob Rees Mogg was forced to admit on Tuesday that it was now looking like a choice between Theresa May’s deal or no Brexit at all. He was forced to concede that he was now “reluctantly” considering lending his support to the deal even though the DUP remain opposed to it.
On Monday, frustrated with the paralysis and chaos of a government which has lost the trust of even some of its own members, MPs voted to take control of the business of the Commons and to debate a series of what are called indicative votes. The aim of the indicative votes is to ascertain whether there is a majority for any approach to the Brexit crisis in the House. The approach to Brexit adopted by most people in the UK is to either run screaming from the room whenever the topic is brought up on the telly, or alternatively to rock slowly back and forward while crying uncontrollably. We are repeatedly told just how divided the UK has become because of Brexit, but nevertheless everyone is united in the fact that a huge majority of the population of the UK can agree that the English language has run out of words to describe the magnitude of the galactobinfireclusterfuck that Brexit has created.
According to a recent poll, just 7% of people think that the government has handled the Brexit process well and only 6% think that the UK will get a good deal out of leaving the EU. These are also the same people who think that The Clangers is a searing social documentary about life on another planet. Coincidentally, the same planet on which most no-deal Brexit supporters live.
A similar proposal a couple of weeks ago for MPs to take control of Parliamentary business was rejected, but even Conservative ministers have now got so frustrated with the delusions, lies, and inflexibility of the Prime Minister that they felt they had no choice but to vote against their own government. It’s not merely that Theresa May has long since become divorced from reality. Reality recently had a bit of a breakdown as it tearfully explained how badly affected it was if Theresa May attempted to approach within the same orbit on the galactic plane. Although it was reassured by the knowledge that this never happens. Reality has now taken out a restraining order against her and insisted on custody of the music collection, the coffee maker, the cat, and everything else except Brexit. Theresa May has become the Alan Partridge of politics, only without his self-awareness that he’s a parody.
On Tuesday, Theresa’s grasp on events was blasted even further into the most distant reaches of the galaxy when the DUP announced that it would prefer a lengthy extension to Article 50 to her deal. Despite the likelihood of her deal ever getting passed now being lower than the chances of Ian Paisley Jr leading the Belfast Gay Pride parade while bedecked in the boa his father woa, Theresa has signalled that she may not accept the results of any indicative vote that manages to gain a majority in the Commons. The government is not bound by an indicative vote, and Theresa May is not about to allow a trivial little matter like parliamentary democracy get in her way. Even so, she’s not going to present her deal for a third meaningless meaningful vote tomorrow because she knows it won’t pass. She’s not going to resign either. She’s certainly not going to change her mind. She’s just going to keep on keeping on, glowering at everyone and blaming them for her own mess. Theresa May is now the largest single obstacle to any progress being made in the British political process. She is the fatberg in the sewer of British politics, a glowering lump of unpleasantness that prevents anything else from passing.
Speaking to the Commons, arch-Brexist Andrea Leadsom said that the priority for the government was to ensure that it fulfilled the Conservative mandate given to it in the General Election by the voters. That would be those voters who ensured that Theresa lost her majority. This is possibly the first time that a British government has prioritised its election manifesto. Honouring the promises made to the people of Scotland during the independence referendum campaign has never even appeared on the Conservatives’ list of priorities. Some referendum promises are clearly worth more than others. Westminster always puts an invisible extra box on ballot papers in Scotland, and that’s for Scotland’s wishes to be ignored. No one ever votes for it, but it’s what we always get.
There are several options which MPs will be debating on Wednesday. The order which they are put to MPs will be crucial, as those who support one particular option will want their favourite to come last, as then those whose own favourite options have already been rejected will be more likely to support it.
The options range from a no deal Brexit, through accepting Theresa May’s deal but without the Irish backstop (which the EU considers a non-starter), Theresa May’s deal again, a Canada style free trade deal which won’t solve the problem of the Irish border, Labour’s plan to remain in a customs union, so called Norway plus which means retaining freedom of movement, a second referendum which could be linked to one of the other options, to unilaterally revoking Article 50 and staying in the EU. There is no guarantee that any of them will manage to achieve a majority in the Commons.
And then we’ll be back where we started, watching the Grand Wizards of Brexit perform their magic trick – making British politics disappear up its own backside. Scotland will be stuck in the cheap seats watching helplessly. They don’t want any audience participation.
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