14 March 2019
Cogito Ergo Non Serviam
The House of Commons has voted, yet again, on the future relationship of the EU and UK. This time, the no-deal Brexit option got shot down in flames. The desired outcome of only that hardest of Hard Brexiteers, no-deal would mean Britain's trade would be under WTO rules, where tariffs and delays abound. Most studies conclude the no-deal Brexit would make Britain the poorest of all the not-good options. Having rejected Ms. May's deal (twice) and no-deal (today), the House now turns to considering a delay (tomorrow). This endless folly serves only to undermine the reputation of Britain, Europe and democracy.
The Speaker selected two amendments of eight proposed for the House to consider. The Spelman/Dromey amendment changed the language so that the motion, if passed, would mean that Britain would not leave the EU without an agreement on future relationships. The other, the so-called Malthouse Compromise, would delay Brexit day to late May to allow for a no-deal Brexit. The former passed 312-308, while the latter failed miserably thanks to a government whip against it.
Ultimately, the House approved the amended motion 321-278, a majority of 43. This means far less than one might think. The motion does not have the force of law, and therefore, it is only a sense of the House. The law still says Brexit is in 15 days.
There was some chaos toward the end, and that may mean anything. The measure that passed was one the government whipped against. Indeed, it was a three-line whip. For those unfamiliar with the system, a free vote lets MPs vote their consciences. A one-line whip means they must vote with the government unless one is unwell. Two lines means vote with the government even if one is unwell. Three lines means vote with the government even if one is dead. Four cabinet ministers (Amber Rudd, David Gauke, Greg Clarke and David Mundell) abstained. Normally, they would have to resign. Normally, any PM who lost a vote on her signature piece of legislation like, oh Brexit for example, would have to resign. So, who knows whether anyone will quit.
Tomorrow's vote one delay should pass, narrowly. Ms. May's bargain has been rejected twice, and a no-deal Brexit has been rejected. There is no other deal, so more time to create on would make sense. Sense is something the House does not have to make, but political necessity suggests logic has a chance.
If the House does opt for a delay, Ms. May can run back to Brussels, redraft the side-agreements that represented the great concessions she got from the EU, and perhaps prevail on the Speaker to let the House vote yet again on her deal.
At some point, the Labour Party as the official opposition is going to have to oppose the government. A no-confidence motion is vital at this point. The Tories are divided, and they are barred by party rules from mounting a coup against Ms. May for another 9 months. A general election and/or a second referendum could break the deadlock by changing the arithmetic.
Until someone figures that out and acts on it, Britain will continue to be the sick man trying to leave Europe.
©©Copyright 2019 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.