A Week in Parliament

Each passing week continues with the Brexit deadlock with all indicative votes were defeated again. Clearly this cannot continue forever and I understand public frustrations. We do have to wonder that after more than two years of “No deal is better than a bad deal” and Theresa May promising her MPs over 100 times from the dispatch box that the UK will leave the EU on 29th March as to why Theresa May appears desperate to prevent a No Deal exit. Surely we can read from this that a No Deal Brexit really is a disaster? The sudden desire to have more meaningful talks with Jeremy Corbyn is an indication of her failure of leadership. At the last minute, she is trying to get Labour on board, probably as part of a blame game exercise. As I have noted before, given Jeremy Corbyn first called for Article 50 to be triggered the day after the referendum as he has always been against the EU.  Had she worked with him on a cross party basis at an early stage she may well have negotiated an agreement that got her the numbers.

While it does feel like groundhog day at Parliament, history continues to be made. Nick Boles, a former UK Government Minister tried to work on a cross party amendment, to ensure that the UK stayed within the single market and customs union when leaving the UK. From an SNP perspective we could see flaws in the amendment but voted for it as a cross party compromise which would be much better than crashing out. It was defeated by 21 votes and he blamed his own party and resigned the whip in the chamber immediately after the vote which is rare to see.

It is worth noting that 25 Labour MPs plus the Independent Group voted against these proposals so had they abstained or voted the other way the proposals would have easily passed. A second referendum was defeated by just 12 votes, with again 27 Labour MPs breaking their whip and voting against the motion. This is another ongoing strand of current politics - that none of the main UK parties can hold a unified position within their ranks and both have suffered many MPs quitting their party. Unstable politics is here to stay for a time yet.

Another piece of history was witnessing a tied vote. This does happen from time to time, and following convention the Speaker voted against with the Government. Yet for a time there was an obvious period where the sets of whips and the Speaker were debating what was going to happen. The next vote then on the main motion was carried by just one vote. This has Tory Brexiteers apoplectic – how can a motion be carried by just one vote they wailed. It’s so unfair! Yet, this was the same group of MPs whooping when the tied vote a few hours earlier was won by the Speaker’s casting vote. It seems a lack of self-awareness and complete hypocrisy will continue no end as will public frustrations I suspect.