Well, this politics graduate admits to being as flummoxed as the rest of you by the Brexit shenanigans taking place, culminating yesterday in a series of votes by MPs on the various amendments allowed by the Speaker.
So, how did Scott Mann vote? Well, he voted in exactly the same was as Geoffrey Cox, so presumably the whip had been hard at work.
- Against Labour’s amendment for Parliament to vote on options to prevent the UK leaving without a deal, including a referendum and a permanent customs union.
- Against the SNP’s amendment to delay Brexit to avoid leaving with no deal.
- Against a Tory amendment to force the government to make time for 6 days of debate on Brexit alternatives before 26th March (phew!)
- Against a Labour amendment to give Parliament time to pass a bill to delay Brexit to 31st December if the PM’s deal is not approved by 26th February.
- Against a Labour amendment asking the EU to postpone Brexit indefinitely.
- Against a Tory amendment to reject leaving the EU without a deal.
- For a Tory amendment to call for Parliament to require the replacement of the ‘backstop’ with alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border with Ireland.
So, what does it all mean in practice? Well, Theresa May goes back to Brussels to reopen talks about the Irish border post Brexit. Here is a useful easy guide to the word I’d be happy to never hear again in my life, the backstop. Hope the PM is collecting her air miles. Corbyn has now agreed to enter talks with May, as well. A terrible feeling of why couldn’t they achieve this (albeit little) in the first place? Nothing like a deadline to get past the posturing and start proper politicking.
However, let’s not get too settled, because the Prime minister actually hasn’t really made any great progress since December, but we can see from her statement that she feels she finally has that clear mandate to return and negotiate with the EU.
Here lies a hitch because the EU has said it has no desire to renegotiate terms, so she is simply hoping they will change their minds. Hmn. On the plus side, MPs did reject a ‘no deal Brexit’ in a surprise narrow victory but in practice, there is little legal weight behind it, I believe.
So, what now?
- The PM returns to Europe to reopen talks on the package offered.
- The EU is currently unwilling to play that game. Indeed, they have said in the last hour they are united on the deal.
- She will continue working on something that will be acceptable to Parliament as the clock ticks.
- The civil service is sending out all sorts of advice on what is happening in the event of ‘no deal’ (which I find worrying).
- If MPs do not want a ‘no deal’, given the time constraints, they may have to accept whatever deal the PM conjures up this time.
- We have not heard the last of it, and the repercussions and ramifications of whatever happens will go on for many years.
The only good bit off news from this is that although I am shortly due a trip to Brussels while I still can, I am not doing it as Theresa May, whose job I really do not envy.