NUMBER Ten, I suspect, got a good laugh this morning at everyone else’s expense. How they must have loved hearing their carefully timed announcement on the BBC news that the PM, Theresa May, is expected to speak at the summit in Paris to call for governments and technology companies around the world to join forces in stopping the distribution of terrorism material online.
Business as usual! It’s surreal – anyone might think she wasn’t in the middle of the Brexit crisis, or that she hadn’t herself just put our national security at risk.
This morning’s news also confirmed that Number Ten is still on the front foot – hot news last night was that the Withdrawal Agreement was back on the table (was it ever off it?) and that the Government was bringing forward its Withdrawal Agreement Bill. The always-obliging BBC reported that ‘Theresa May is giving MPs another chance to vote on Brexit in early June’. How very kind of her.
For the fourth and final time, we were told more ominously, and whether or not the government and Labour have reached a deal by then, the report added. The alternative (isn’t it wonderful how a three-times defeated Prime Minister can still be setting the terms?) should Mrs May’s deal be defeated, the BBC (aka Number 10) said, is that the UK is set for no deal or for Article 50 to be revoked.
No 10 say if Mrs May's deal is defeated – UK set for No Deal or Revoke as EU will not grant a further extension after Oct 31.
— norman smith (@BBCNormanS) May 15, 2019
Mrs May and her team have never once diverged from this pincer or blackmail strategy designed to bring Parliament into line. They have been able rely on the anti-Brexit BBC to report such threats as bland fact, as Laura Kuenssberg’s reporting has consistently done. What Number Ten says is her benchmark.
And the BBC helpfully also tells us today that Labour sources say they will not back the Bill without a cross-party deal.
Well, I think we are safe to guess that there will be one – May and Number Ten have little problem with the customs union and other matters like workers’ rights. All they need is the mirage of having no other option. What else was Olly Robbins beetling off to Barnier for yesterday if not to get in motion the modifications needed to either the WA or the Political Declaration to encompass them?
The Cabinet, as it has consistently done before, will capitulate, giving in to staying in the customs union in perpetuity and even if it ‘lock’ a future PM to that. It is hard to see what else had them bunkered in Number Ten for so long yesterday. My prediction too is that Liam Fox’s resignation, which will come in due course, will not bother Terminator May in the slightest. All that matters to the leadership contenders in the Cabinet – as she well knows – is the date of her departure that the only certain way of getting is by voting through her ‘Labour deal’ WA, whatever it contains or ties them to in the future.
They would, however, be naive to believe that if the Commons does not oblige them with their vote that their Dear Leader will find her position untenable, as Paul Goodman suggests in his diary this morning, or that the EU will refuse an extension beyond October 31.
And so May’s Brexit merry-go-round will continue juddering on as long as Steve Barclay, Michael Gove, Jeremy Hunt, Penny Mordaunt, Sajid Javid and Co suck up every compromise to issue forth from Number Ten (not to ensure Brexit but her departure). It’s a risky strategy that can only oil the wheels of Farage’s Brexit bandwagon.
At TCW we continue counting the days to the non-toppling of Theresa.
Today is Day 41 . . .