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What happens when the anti-Brexiteers are united – those who want it are split

January 9th, 2019

This week’s latest Westminster scorecard : The Executive NIL Parliament TWO

By any standards the events that we are seeing at Westminster over the process of the government’s EU Exit legislation are completely unprecedented. Generally parliament is very much there to follow what the executive rules and Westminster’s structures and rules are designed to achieve that end.

The two defeats for the government that we’ve seen yesterday and today are designed to eat away some of the executive’s power in relation to the biggest constitutional changes in decades

In many ways TMay’s has brought this on itself by seeking to take as much of the decision-making away from Parliament. Her move before Christmas to postpone the vote on the deal has very much raised temperature for this week’s considerations.

This afternoon’s motion was about the control of the timetable for what happens. This was unprecedented in that the Speaker agreed to it apparently against the standard procedures of the House. Its passage means that if, as is likely, TMay’s deal is defeated next Tuesday then she has to bring something back within 3 working days. This is instead of the three weeks that would have happened under normal procedures.

All this is set against a backdrop of the government having no majority on the issues for the deal and not wanting to end up with No Deal

Until this afternoon I thought that this TMay’s strategy of wearing the Commons down until there was no real time left would succeed in getting her deal through. Now I am much less convinced.

    If Brexit was supposed to be about Parliament taking back control well that is exactly what has happened but not in a way that those who invented the slogan might have appreciated at the referendum.

Quite where this goes is hard to predict but we could get to situation where a Commons motion calling for a second referendum is carried. Mrs. May could ignore that but I think she would find it very difficult.

Mike Smithson