Cabinet and EU prepare for No Deal
Both Britain and the European Union are putting together contingency plans in the case that the UK leaves the EU without a deal. An “exercise in damage limitation,” the governments are putting in place temporary arrangements to ease the effects of a no deal, which could still cause customs hold-ups.
The current proposal for EU withdrawal is unpopular on both sides of the House. The parliamentary vote on the deal has been delayed by Prime Minister Theresa May until at least mid-January, in hope that she can get “reassurances” on some parts of the deal, particularly the “backstop” arrangement that legislates the transitional period and maintenance of free movement of goods and people at the Irish border. There are some uncertainties about how long this “backstop” will last, which keeps us in the EU in all but name.
May has so far been unable to establish anything concrete so has not gained the confidence of her “rebel” backbench MPs, who want her to resign.
More Resignation T
A number of Tory MPs have threatened to resign if the government makes a no deal priority. Famous Remainer Anna Soubry said in such an instance she would quit the whip. These are largely the same contingent that expressed support for Theresa May during the recent leadership challenge, and for her proposed withdrawal bill. For them, a no deal Brexit is unacceptable.
Some Cabinet members have also expressed reservations with these plans, perturbed that it’s being taken seriously at all, whilst admitting that contingency plans have to be put in place if “the worst happens.”
A “No Deal” would mean the United Kingdom refers to World Trade Organisation rules regarding trading, and would therefore lead to discrepancies in international trade policies and potential hold-ups at customs. But it would mean a clean break from the European Union, and legal escape from the customs union, regressive fishery policies, the Brexit “bill,” and the European Court of Justice.
Confidence, No Confidence
Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn tabled a no-confidence motion in the Prime Minister, whilst shrinking back from filing a formal no-confidence motion in the government, which would likely have triggered a general election. Labour whips are angry at what is seen as inconsistent messaging, as the movement is being perceived as non-serious.
For all the bluster about a leadership challenge, Labour do not actually want to be in power right now. May, no matter where you’re looking at this from, is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Much better to wait until Brexit has occurred, and point to the disastrous transition, and make a challenge then. That is if May hasn’t promptly resigned already.
The “Stupid People” of Parliament
After Jeremy Corbyn was thoroughly humiliated by the Prime Minister’s “pantomime” gag regarding this half-a-job, footage was taken of the opposition leader mouthing what looked like, “stupid woman” directed at May. This sparked hours of debate in the Commons about the appropriate response – Speaker of the House John Bercow did not witness the incident so could not make a judgment.
Corbyn later gave a statement claiming that he said “stupid people.” But professional lip readers have said otherwise. The MPs who gave their points of order to the Speaker continually invoked a woman’s right to be respected in the workplace. Yet “stupid woman” doesn’t seem a totally sexist statement; only if “stupid man” was equally sexist. It would be a shame of this bit of Commons banter was turned into tiresome PC pantomime.
You can read more from James Smith on Think Liberty here.