Last night the British Parliament, after seizing control of the game away from the government of Prime Minister Theresa May, had the opportunity to pass merely one of eight “indicative” votes on the direction of the issue. This is also after PM May, in an honorable move earlier in the day, offered to resign her high office if her own Tory Party backed her soft Brexit option. Though she made the exact timing and details of her resignation vague. Rumor is she’d leave around late May. Smart money right now is Dominic Raab is her successor.
However, the Tories and the rest of the House of Commons spurned her offer and instead voted all eight down. Close to a win was a plan to have a confirmation vote held by the public on any deal. It failed 295-268. The closest to victory was a proposal that any eventual deal include a UK-wide customs union with the EU. Basically a completely emasculated Brexit. It lost 272-264. The measure nearest to the 2016 vote, the so-called Norway option, got clobbered.
Thus, we can see where the numbers are going. Parliament is telling the majority of the nation to sod off; we’ll do as we please. Don’t like it, peasants? We’ll pull up the drawbridge and set the dogs on you.
The process has become a farce, a theater of the absurd where MPs vote for something one day and turn it down the next. A screwball seriocomedy where the PM offers to leave office, as all and sundry want her to do and tell her that to her face, and then some of the same people vote to keep her in office. The hardest opponent to her soft Brexit, chief of the ERG Jacob Rees-Mogg, actually said he would vote for it just so some kind of Brexit would pass. That is, if the Northern Irish DUP went along. They didn’t because they think it would separate them from the rest of the UK. But then the question was moot because it didn’t come up for a vote this time at all.
It is Alice Through the Looking Glass government, a political compass spinning like a roulette wheel. Where it stops…
And standing in the middle of all of it is Speaker of the House John Bercow, a soaking wet Tory referee gone mad. He throws flags for imaginary offenses, mostly to keep his face in the headlines. As previously reported here, he is still telling the PM she may not even get to have her proposal put up for a third vote, even though the circumstances have changed dramatically since the last vote. He utilizes a little employed and heretofore hardly known four-hundred- year-old rule to work his mischief.
So where are we at press time Wednesday night? All bets are on and all bets are off. The PM may never get the third vote on her plan if Bercow remains intransigent. Or, the House could rebel against Bercow. And don’t forget the prorogued parliament option.
No matter what the outcome, she may leave office, or not. There soon will be a general election, maybe. There are more votes coming up Friday and/or Monday, probably.
Friday was supposed to be another date entirely. It is the date the British public voted back in 2016 to exit the EU for good: Brexit.
The day will slip by with the whole matter unresolved after over two years of fighting over it. Yet another opportunity missed not only for PM May and Parliament, but for British representative government itself.