Remainers against a No Deal imagine a UK with economic collapse and exorbitant tariffs, epidemic disease, drug and food shortages and political chaos.
LONDON: This week in Westminster has been devoted to debating Brexit and Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement (WA). The Prime Minister has faced serious rebellion in her ranks, beginning with MPs voting 303 to 296 to approve an amendment to the Finance Bill against a No Deal/WTO Brexit, proposed by Labour backbencher Yvette Cooper. The amendment requires the government to extend the date of Article 50 or to obtain the approval of the House of Commons before using tax-hiking powers in the event of a No Deal. The amendment was approved by 20 Conservative MPs who voted against the government. Tom Newton Dunn reported this is the sixth Brexit defeat for May and the only Finance Bill amendment in 41 years.
The Finance Bill was followed by a second Commons defeat for Theresa May. Dominic Grieve, Conservative MP and former Attorney General, led a cross-party Remainer rebellion demanding a business motion that was accepted by the Speaker, John Bercow, as an amendment to the Business of Parliament, in an unprecedented move that disregarded the UK’s unwritten Constitution. Bercow is being challenged to publish the advice of the Clerk of the Commons which is assumed he overruled.
The Grieve amendment was accepted by 308 to 297. This amendment condensed the time the PM has available to come up with a Plan B for UK’s withdrawal from the EU, should the vote on Tuesday, 15 January fail. The PM now has only three days, as opposed to 21 previously, to publish an alternative plan. These events underline that Theresa May has very little authority over her MPs. It raises serious questions such as if the majority House of Commons has no confidence in the government should there be a vote, or as Jeremy Corbyn suggested on Friday a general election. The pressure is obviously on for the PM to stand down or to defy Remainers and opt for a No Deal.
Remainers against a No Deal/WTO imagine a UK with economic collapse and exorbitant tariffs, epidemic disease, drug and food shortages, 20-mile tailbacks at ports, train and airline disruptions and political chaos.
A former chief of the British intelligence service, MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove, has written to the chairmen of Conservative Associations warning that the present WA is a threat to national security policy by binding UK into new sets of EU controlled relationships. Dearlove warns, concealed in the proposed defence, security and intelligence “special relationship” with the EU are threats to the fundamentals of UK national security, membership of NATO, UK intelligence relations with the US and the Five Eyes Alliance. Dearlove continues, the first duty of the state is the safety of its citizens and the WA, as it stands, puts UK’s national security in foreign hands. He urges the Tory chairmen to advise their MPs to vote against May’s WA. Presently, estimates show the PM will lose the Meaningful Vote by at least 225 votes, which would be hugely damaging to her credibility both in UK and the EU. If the WA were to pass, MPs who have voted against it know their days are numbered.
Greg Hands, Conservative MP and former Minister for International Trade, wrote for Conservative Home that the WA favours the EU; that the EU feels it has the upper hand and the backstop is essentially a punitive measure to demonstrate that Brexit will not work. Hands refers to Martin Selmayr—Jean Claude Juncker’s Chief of Staff and General Secretary to the EU—and Sabine Weyand—Michel Barnier’s Deputy—as being the invisible hands directing negotiations. This is no surprise to The Sunday Guardian, which who reported in October 2017 that Selmayr was virtually directing Brexit negotiations (https://www.sundayguardianlive.com/world/11412-uk-tired-lack-progress-eu-). Hands claims Selmayr and Weyand insisted on the separate parts of a Withdrawal Agreement and a Political Declaration which have so divided Westminster. Hands’ final caution is that these potentially vindictive EU commissioners will increase in power after the retirement of Juncker and Barnier in June.
There is another situation under speculation: what if Labour MPs abstained in the vote on 15th, would the vote fail or pass? If the latter then would it precipitate a Tory Brexiteer rebellion, and then the DUP would withdraw their conditional vote of confidence in May’s government?