Theresa May has promised much. Every day brings forth more Brexit phrases from her mouth and her speech writers. It is an art from to be able to talk so much and yet say absolutely nothing of any note at the same time. So much hot air and all entirely meaningless. But now it’s time for her to unravel her mind and do something at least a bit prime ministerial; for Article 50’s triggering is at hand and a timetable of sorts is on the table.
What remains to be seen is how she negotiates any amendments to the process. She has promised only five days for parliament to scrutinise the legislation that will trigger our departure. Brexit may mean Brexit, but it also means haste and desperation. Given May’s determination to push for a March Brexit this process will be over before we know it. And such actions tend not to result in the best legislation or the most thorough of debates.
This is easier for the largely anti-EU Tories, because for them it’s a wet dream come true, kicking the nasty continentals where it hurts; for Labour it’s not so straightforward.
Jeremy Corbyn is largely Eurosceptic. As a beckbencher he tended to vote against EU treaty business when it was presented to the Commons. Although he regarded the EU as a cosy capitalist clique, as opposed to orthodox Tory thinking, which was to be suspicious at all times of Johnny Foreigner and their laughable landlocked ways. But he knows his party are split on the matter. Does he vote for Brexit and face accusations of being weak, or does he go down the second referendum route and get called undemocratic? By and large he knows the people have spoken and wants Labour to reflect that fact. So instead his plan is to get the best possible deal Britain can and get the party to vote for Article 50.
Tim Farron’s Lib-Dems have convened a meeting in a broom cupboard and decided that Referendum 2 would be a great idea. So much for realpolitik.
Obviously some Labour MPs are not happy; they resent a three-line whip being issued (and Corbyn was no lover of such tactics as a backbencher). Tulip Siddiq, a member of Corbyn’s shadow cabinet, has resigned over the imposition of the whip. To her, it’s a betrayal of her constituents (in other words: “please don’t vote me out at the next election”). He might just let the rebels get on with it, but what is Corbyn supposed to do? He knows the EU membership game is up and is just trying to unite Labour behind one purpose, namely to influence the outcome in positives ways.
Siddiq clearly hoped for a soft Brexit, but the hardest of hard ones is coming and it isn’t going to be pretty.
Max Webster is the editor for Political Provocateur