The UK no longer has a functioning government.
- Yesterday evening, the Government was found in contempt of Parliament for the first time in its history. Yes, in history.
- Its alleged confidence-and-supply partners voted to bring the contempt charge and then voted for it
- This despite the Attorney General taking 2.5 hours of questioning yesterday, following it up with a letter to the Speaker to make the case for why the legal advice must remain secret, and then publishing that letter
- The government lost an amendment brought by Dominic Grieve which now means that, if the Meaningful Vote fails, Parliament can propose new amendments
- This means in practice that Parliament, not the government, determines what happens next
- 26 Conservative MPs voted against their own Party to push this through
A government hobbled by its own minority status was always going to struggle. But the degree of rebellion at this stage, before we have even got into the meat of the Meaningful Vote, means that it has gone full Norwegian Blue. It has ceased to exist.
Having survived this far, there had become a kind of dazed belief that Theresa May would battle on through. This was to mistake the past 12 months. All sides have been cooking up their plans, ready to pounce. We are now entering that crunch zone. Dominic Grieve actually brought this same amendment back in June, when TM previously suffered a wobble. He then voted against his own amendment as he ‘felt the Prime Minister was listening’. The truth is that he didn’t want to pull the disloyalty trigger back then. Now, it can be done with impunity, with the government on its knees and time ticking down the clock.
BlondeMoney keeps hearing that recent machinations are just flushing out the loons versus the pragmatists. That Labour might want to make a lot of noise about embarrassing the government but they’re just playing to the gallery. That the contempt charge is therefore contemptuous. That Grieve’s amendment is just a mechanism by which a soft Brexit can come about. Ditto the Article 50 ruling.
Sure, that’s one potential outcome. That the silent majority rests with a non-wrecking pragmatic Gove/Boles Norway+ plan, with a hint of possible No Brexit thrown in. That sanity will break out.
As we have often said, if there is one topic that is destined to ensure insanity, it’s Europe.
The threat of No Deal and No Brexit don’t make either side more likely to vote for the middle ground, it makes them more likely to wreck it. And the middle ground would be unable to yield to either extreme. Hence the stalemate. If Parliament can’t agree on what “next” should be, how does the Grieve amendment make anything more likely?
Some argue it reduces the chance of No Deal. That’s because a majority is against No Deal, they say.
But this ignores second preferences. Yes, Remainers and Pragmatists both want No Deal. But they don’t agree on what to do next: Remainders want a second Referendum whereas Pragmatists might favour Norway. There may even be sub-divisions within that, such as “Norway for Now”, or a 3-choice referendum.
The majority is actually several minorities that each support a different path. They may all want No Deal but they prefer something else instead.
Today’s votes mean we can be sure of only one thing: The Grieve Amendment removes leadership, increases the risk of stalemate, and creates a situation that only a No Confidence vote and a 14 day attempt to find a “coalition of the willing” can solve.