HARD on the heels of the revelation that Mrs May plans to pay billions to Brussels even in the event of a No Deal Brexit, the Prime Minister has reneged on her most fundamental of commitments – that the UK will leave the EU on March 29.
The parliamentary timetable she set out yesterday means one thing, as Guido pointed out: ‘The UK will now only leave without a deal if the House of Commons votes again for that outcome, despite their having overwhelmingly voted to set it as the legal default in 2017.’
With her trademark studied obfuscation, Mrs May said she was aware MPs were ‘genuinely worried’ that time was running out to get a Brexit deal approved before the UK is due to leave the EU on March 29. The small matter of Parliament being totally at odds with the people and the democratic vote to leave is by the by, of course.
She told MPs they will have the chance to vote on a No Deal Brexit or a short extension to Article 50 if she cannot get her deal through the Commons, setting it out for them in steps: if her deal is not passed during a Meaningful Vote held by March 12, the Government will table a motion for the following day asking the House if it supports leaving the EU without a deal. If this is rejected, MPs would be able to vote on a second motion on March 14 asking if Parliament wants a ‘short-term, limited extension’ to Article 50 and a delay to Brexit.
It is a significant concession, Nick Boles tweeted triumphantly.
The Prime Minister has made a significant concession. The detailed commitments that she made at the despatch box mirror the provisions of the Cooper-Letwin bill precisely. The question for all of us is this: can MPs trust her to do what she has promised?
— Nick Boles MP (@NickBoles) February 26, 2019
How ironic is it that he – an arch-Remainer – should be the one to worry about whether she can be trusted or not? From his perspective, I fear she can be.
For Brexiteers there can be no remnant of trust or excuses left. Remember her words of two years ago on triggering Article 50:
‘This is an historic moment from which there can be no turning back. Britain is leaving the European Union. We are going to make our own decisions and our own laws, reaching an agreement about our future partnership by the time the two-year Article 50 process has concluded’.
Two years later, we haven’t even begun it.
I don’t remember her saying that by the end of two years Article 50 could be extended if MPs wanted this; or that in the event of no agreement we’d be paying a whacking great divorce bill agreed without so much as a by your leave.
Yet this is just what she has just persuaded her compliant Ministers to sign off in principle, according to senior Whitehall sources. The Telegraph’s Peter Foster says the Government is to table an executive order, or Statutory Instrument, in the final days of the Brexit negotiations to create the legal foundations for future payments to Brussels. Regardless!
Talk about a full two fingers up to Brexiteers who’d rather vote for No Deal than her deal. It flies straight in the face of their expectations that a No Deal Brexit would save the country from paying the £39billion EU divorce settlement.
What’s astonishing is that this capitulation happened when Mrs May was meant to be using any leverage to get a time limit on the backstop, and when the EU is at its weakest negotiating position. Yet they have only to ‘put the UK on notice’ that it expects the British government to ‘honour the obligations’ of its EU membership in the event of a ‘No Deal’ for May and her Cabinet to collapse like a house of cards.
She is not so weak when it comes to having her own way with Parliament or pushing her WA through – as we have described before, she is remorseless. And the EU’s agenda clearly suits her own and her own pursuit of power at all costs.
At least we are not alone in questioning Mrs May’s capacity for breaking promises without any apparent remorse. Suzanne Moore, not a natural ally of TCW, observed on Monday that her dullness is cover for a dangerous, power-crazed women. EU lackey or not, it is her determination to stay in power that is so very worrying. Like Suzanne, we feel an existential despair at her impregnable belief in herself and Parliament’s pusillanimity in face of it.