The Prime Minister foisted the blame of indecision onto MPs, whilst in reality, all decisions have been taken by her.
London: The lengths Theresa May will go to get her own way became apparent on Wednesday evening; most citizens were expecting her resignation as she approached the lectern at No. 10. The speech disappointed and infuriated many, as no resignation was forthcoming. The Prime Minister foisted the blame of indecision onto MPs, whilst in reality, up to now, all decisions have been taken by her—the accountability for bad decisions rests at her door. May is clinging obsessively to her deal as Gollum clung to the ring. The PM speech was derided by the political left, right and centre. It delivered nothing new and only intends to extend the abysmal uncertainty she has created.
No third meaningful vote (MV3) was allowed by the Speaker, John Bercow, who introduced a ban on the same proposition being introduced for the third time, citing a convention that was last used in 1604 (Erskine-May). Thus May returned to Brussels on Thursday to persuade the EU to grant an extension beyond 29 March. The 27 member states are desperate to avoid a No Deal for fear this will contaminate opinion against centralisation in their states. They grilled May for details about a Plan B; May reiterated her position over her deal—there is no Plan B.
Eventually Tusk announced the EU27 agreed timetable designed to allow May options to “take hold of the process”. Firstly, if the Withdrawal Agreement (WA-MV3) is passed by the House of Commons this week, the EU agrees to an extension for Brexit Day, Article 50 till 22 May, the last date possible before UK would have to participate in the irony of EU elections. If the WA is not approved this week, a second extension is granted till 12 April, to allow for a possible MV4. If all the above fail it is full steam ahead preparations for No Deal.
Herein lies the problem. Presently the Speaker, John Bercow, will not allow another MV as the content of the proposal for the vote has not changed since it was defeated by 149 votes. May will argue that the EC backing her Strasbourg Agreement, plus the date changes, makes the proposal substantially different. But will Bercow agree? The Strasbourg Agreement is the joint instrument related to the WA providing clarifications to the Irish Backstop. Geoffrey Cox, the Attorney General, said it reduced the risk of being forever stuck in the Backstop/Customs Union, but the “legal risk remains unchanged”.
If no MV3/4 is, allowed the PM might float a contemplative motion, such as would the HoC like to vote on the WA for a third time? Again, this is a risky move for May. Going by today’s sentiments, it would fail for a third time. Sentiment has gone against the PM since she pitched constituents against MPs; many of last week’s Switchers, who favoured her deal, have now switched back to rejecting it; and public opinion has shifted dramatically to support No Deal. The European Research Group Eurosceptics and the Democratic Unionist Party are likely to vote against the deal as this might deliver a No Deal. Labour are likely to vote against it as this might bring a long extension during which Corbyn will keep the possibility of a second referendum open.
David Lidington, the Deputy Prime Minister, is considering a series of so-called indicative votes that could offer up to seven options: May’s deal, revoking Article 50, a second referendum, remain in the Customs Union, remain in the Customs Union and the Single Market, No Deal. Whether the results of these are legally binding to government policy or how they would adhere to May’s method is questionable as the WA is already cast in stone. Needless to say, accusations of “no leadership” and hopes that the PM’s days in No10 are numbered are galloping around Westminster.