It’s been yet another craaaaaazeeee day in the House of Commons, which is the new baseline for normality in British politics. We had Prime Minister’s Questions, the first for Prime Minister Lyin’ Bastert Johnson, only he seemed to be operating under the misapprehension that Prime Minister’s Questions meant that he got to ask everyone else questions instead of, you know, answering them honestly. But then if Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson answering a question honestly were a concept which had a solid physical form, the nearest that it would ever get to entering his head would be by orbiting a galaxy one billion light years distant.
In recent years PMQs has been a waste of time, a ritualistic exercise in which the format of questions and answers was adhered to, but with none of the actual content. Theresa May used it as a weekly opportunity to suck all the vitality and joy out of every life form between here and the concept of Boris Johnson answering a question honestly. LBJ has decided to use it as a forum for exchanging adolescent jokes and insults. He didn’t even bother to make a nodding acquaintance with the concept of answering the question in any shape or form, never mind answering it honestly. If he manages to cling on to power, this will be the future of British politics.
PMQs was just the warm up act. The star of today’s show was the Rebel Alliance Strikes Again, the shittiest Star Wars movie ever – and that includes Attack of the Clones. Jacob Rees Mogg does bear a startling resemblance to C3PO, come to think of it. Has anyone ever seen them in the same room together? No? Hmmm. Anyway, having successfully wrested control of parliamentary business from the Government yesterday, today MPs introduced a bill aimed at forcing the Prime Minister to ask the EU for an extension to Article 50. It was virtually certain that the bill was going to pass, since the Government had removed the whip from the 21 Conservative MPs who voted against LBJ yesterday, meaning that the Government wishes that it was as close to being within reach of a majority as LBJ is to the concept of answering a question honestly.
Emboldened by yesterday’s events, an additional Conservative MP voted against the Government today. The bill passed by 329 votes to 300, and was sent to the House of Lords. The timetable is very short, and the bill needs to become law by the end of the week, as LBJ is still planning to prorogue Parliament next week. All bills which have not finished their passage to the statute books by then will automatically fall.
However it was not all plain sailing for the Rebel Alliance. We discovered that there are indeed new depths of incompetence to which British politicians can fall. Labour MP Stephen Kinnock, son of 1980s Labour leader Neil Kinnock who snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, managed to throw LBJ a lifeline of sorts in the form of an amendment which attaches a condition to the request to the EU for an extension to Article 50. Stephen wants Theresa May’s deal to be debated yet again, and his amendment means that when the British Government requests an extension to Article 50 it will ostensibly be because the Commons wishes to debate the deal again. Stephen inherited his dad’s uncanny knack of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, so much so that it’s rumoured that if he ever leaves politics he’ll be offered a position managing the Scotland football team.
The amendment passed due to a bit of chicanery on the part of the government, which failed to put up any tellers for the vote, meaning that the amendment passed automatically. And it was all so that Stephen could go to his leave voting constituents and tell them that he’d tried to get a Brexit deal. However legal advice received by the Labour party after the amendment was accepted says that the practical effect of the amendment is very limited. All it really achieved was to muddy the waters somewhat and allow Lyin’ Bastert Johnson to snatch a small victory from the jaws of defeat. Stephen’s dad famously fell in the sea when he was taking part in a photo op. Stephen is so spectacularly useless that if he fell in the sea, he’d miss.
The government denies that it deliberately didn’t put up tellers in order to get the amendment to pass. Since everything that comes out of the government’s mouth these days is a big fat lie all the denial really tells us is that they probably did do it deliberately. Although since the deal contains a version of the backstop that the government can’t accept, it might – just might – possibly – potentially – be that they’re actually telling the truth this time. That’s how far through the mirror into the topsy turvy land of opposites that we’ve fallen here. It could even end up that the deal that was defeated by the Commons three times could end up passing by accident.
With the bill having been passed by the Commons, the Government then tried to get the House to agree to a motion calling for a General Election for 15 October. MPs were not disposed to let LBJ get his way, since it’s widely believed that he’d use a General Election to allow a no-deal Brexit by default, and no one trusts him not to change the date of the election using the Royal Prerogative after the Commons has agreed to it. Under the terms of the Fixed Term Parliament Act, the Government needed to get a two thirds majority. That was never going to happen. No one wants to enable LBJ.
The vote was 56 against, and 298 in favour. Most MPs abstained since it was always clear that there was never any prospect of the Government winning the required two thirds majority. Even though the noes were heavily outvoted by the ayes, the motion failed because it didn’t get the support of two thirds of the house. Labour, the SNP, and the Lib Dems had all said that they will not support another election until no deal is off the table. What was interesting is that the Government lost the support of two more of its own MPs. He’s only had to face the Commons for a few days, and he’s already bled away the support of an average of 8 of his own MPs for every day. There are people who accidentally cut their carotid artery who bleed to death more slowly.
He’s only had three days during which he’s had to face MPs, and already LBJ administration is spinning out of control. In that lack of control he is simply joining the rest of us. I have no idea what will happen next. Neither does anyone else. This is the security and stability of the UK that was promised to Scotland in 2014. This is the gold standard democracy that Scotland was told it relied upon. It bears less of a resemblance to a gold standard than a foil covered stale chocolate coin. At least you can eat chocolate. British democracy just makes you feel sick to your stomach.
My new book has just been published by Vagabond Voices. Containing the best articles from The National from 2016 to date. Weighing in at over 350 pages, this is the biggest and best anthology of Wee Gingerisms yet. This collection of pieces covers the increasingly demented Brexit years, and the continuing presence and strength of Scotland’s independence movement.
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