Complete and Utter May-hem
Parliament is reducing Theresa May to the Prime Minister in name only after derailing her deal for the second time, ruling out a No Deal scenario under any circumstances and voting in favour of a delay to Brexit.
Historic votes seem to have become the norm in the Commons as of late, as the extensive use of hyperbole in regard to this crisis has also become horrifically predictable on the front pages of newspapers and on everybody’s social media feeds. This is a unique crisis in the sense that some people just ignore these signs of an elite political drama and could not care less as events have not especially affected them as of yet.
Be that as it may, those engaged on politics and who have been affected by uncertainty are continuing to express polarising passion as an ideological civil-war ensues across the nation. Those of us endlessly scrolling Twitter with their eyes glued to the news are deeply fascinated by this crisis and it will be written about and analysed for many, many years to come.
The political climate created by Brexit is dangerously chaotic and shows no sign of stopping. This country is indeed in an awful constitutional state, as a Remainer parliament built upon indirect democracy still struggles to implement a result of direct democracy which most do not agree with. The deal reached by this country’s embarrassing negotiating team and a stoic EU has disgusted the Commons and a vast swathe the public. The fact that the house has been voting on, and seriously considering, what has been described by Conservative backbencher Steve Double as a ‘turd’ but is now a ‘polished turd’ highlights perfectly the shameful ineptitude and incompetence of this administration.
Having been voted down in January by a record margin of 230 votes, May’s ‘turd’ was again rejected by 149 on Tuesday. The legal advice of the Attorney General, Geoffrey Cox, provided a final nail in the coffin after an optimistic start to the day. May’s little victory in securing legally binding changes to the backstop was judged by Cox as only reducing the risk of the UK being trapped in the Customs Union. The following day, MPs inflicted another defeat upon the PM and voted down the prospect of a No Deal exit under any circumstances. Parliament repeatedly going against government policy has meant that these votes have resulted in the legislative systematically hijacking power from the executive. Theresa May is rapidly losing what little political credence she has left and her resignation as been talked about more seriously as a consequence. Be that as it may, she will not do this as she sees the delivery of Brexit and ‘the will of the people’ as her personal duty.
Voting down the concept of a No Deal does not actually have much substance, however, as it is not legally binding, and the UK will still legally leave the EU immediately if a deal is not reached by the new deadline. The concept of a No Deal is considered a true Brexit and a vital negotiating card by some MPs and members of the public, but an irresponsible risk by others. Trade figures released on Wednesday, describing how the UK will cut most tariffs to zero if no deal is reached, provide some economic reassurance, but most MPs still see the harm it would do to the country as a whole would as too much of a price to pay with the phrase ‘a sledgehammer to the economy’ being used as a frequent soundbite.
Hammond has reiterated how Brexit uncertainty is harming the economy. This is set to continue as a third meaningful vote on May’s deal next week has been announced. This should be, although one cannot assign logic to the happenings inside the house during these developments, May’s last gasp attempt to force MPs to vote for her widely detested agreement. If she can manage to secure more substantial changes, which the EU my flat out reject or generously concede in a display of trademark last minute periods of flexibility. The EU’s negotiating position has been logical, clear, justified and understandable and the combination of extreme red lines and a need for concessions has resulted in a stalemate. Eurosceptics have used this to construct a narrative against Michel Barnier and Jean-Claude Junker in the form of an ungrounded myth painting the EU as an Anglophobic bully.
The Put it to the People March on 23rd March is now looking increasingly important in the face of unprecedented parliamentary uncertainty, but another referendum still remains very unlikely. Benches were full of Labour MPs who chose to abstain on an amendment calling for one and even some Remainers are stating that another referendum should not go ahead. Nevertheless, another referendum is still possible. If one does go ahead and the result is a remain verdict, historians will surely judge this attempted Brexit as the most substantial self-imposed waste of time and money in modern British history. Although, some would still argue that going back to square one would be better than any form of exit from the European Union.
With the government now seeking a Brexit delay, as of Thursday evening, May is visibly exhausted, and the country is in desperate need of certainty. Most people want nothing more than this to be over. I have some bad news if you happen to be one of those people: this is far from being over. Brexit fatigue will continue to be a feature of public life and lengthy negotiations regarding our future relationship with the largest economic block in the world are still to come. They will doubtlessly provide us with many more ‘historic’ weeks such as the one we have just endured.
If you are looking to make sense of this chaos, here are my recommendations of what to listen to, watch and read which will help you in this tricky endeavour.
- The BBC’s Brexitcast
- The Times Red Box Politics Podcast
- The BBC’s Podlitical Podcast
- The Spectator Podcast
- The Guardian’s Brexit Means…
- Channel 4 News on YouTube
- Newsnight on YouTube
- The Economist on YouTube
- Sky News 24/7 YouTube Livestream for constant analysis and a LOT of weather reports
- TLDR News on YouTube
- The Economist
- Articles on the BBC News Website
- As many papers as you can so as to obtain all opinions and interpretations. It will broaden you own. Try not to stay within a bubble of opinions which resemble your own and try and stay clear of social media as your main informer.