- Today Theresa travels to Brussels. Donald Tusk has deliberately raised the temperature ahead of their meeting, warning “there is a special place in hell…for those who promoted Brexit, without even a sketch of a plan of how to carry it out safely“. (Yes the same Donald Tusk who teased/taunted Britain via Instagram over its ‘cake and eat it’ approach, ooh the lolz)
- Cue moaning from unsportsmanlike behaviour to the DUP’s downright accusations of Donald as a “devilish Euro maniac“. Suffice to say, tensions are mounting.
- As well they should be. The clock is ticking and expectations of a palatable compromise from the EU are low.
- Cue the suspicion that some white smoke might actually emerge. A legal codicil, verified by everyone’s favourite Aslan (and Attorney General), Geoffrey Cox, would please the creator of the Brady Amendment himself.
- But, almost inevitably, it wouldn’t please all of the Brexiteer ERG. Who are themselves split over their brainchild, the Malthouse Compromise. Some want the backstop removed altogether (there is now a proliferation of references to this legal advice from Herbert Smith that it is, in fact, illegal). But others worry too hard a line will force TM into the arms of the Labour Party – and thus a softer exit.
- Ooh, and who pops up just at this juncture? Jezza himself, finally clarifying his six test unicorn list into five bullet points. Essentially this is: a permanent Customs Union, alongside workers’ rights, a close alignment to the single market, and commitments to funding EU agencies.
- Just as the Brexiteer Pragmatists break cover to launch a Free Trade Agreement precisely to avoid ending up in a Customs Union, as the former banker and former minister Greg Hands told The Sun.
- And the Trade Union TSSA commissioned a poll for Corbyn’s Momentum crew, which suggested “The best electoral opportunity for Labour would be provided by a general election in which the Tories campaigned on a so-called soft Brexit… and where Labour opposed Brexit”
All of which means we are in a situation where Corbyn launches a clearer policy towards a soft Brexit (apparently an electorally poor choice) just as the Conservatives launch a doomed and impossible hard Brexit, forcing them to pivot to a softer position (also apparently an electorally poor choice).
Oh, the machinations of politics.
Corbyn’s apparent sudden urge for clarification is really designed to split the Conservative Party over Brexit. It will allow for Labour to continue to vote against the Deal (or abstain) whilst claiming they tried to work with an intransigent PM. It doesn’t mean Labour will back the Tories (why would they?) but it’s risky because it could allow some Labour MPs to break cover and do precisely that.
The question, as ever, is how many?
BlondeMoney to the rescue.
Our analysis means we can identify potential Labour rebels. At the top level, let’s look at all those who voted for the Spelman Amendment, which sought to rule out No Deal. (And yes, it can’t merely be ‘ruled out’, a majority has to agree on something else – if not a different deal then Article 50 revocation or a General Election).
We took these MPs and then separated them by their primary demand from the Brexit process:
In other words, these MPs who want to avoid No Deal, what is their primary motivator? As you can see, the biggest chunk just want Power. Then there are those Remainer types who want the Peoples Vote, then Norway etc.
We assume that the Power group wouldn’t back TM’s Deal, and neither would the SNP. Both these groups can use the chaos to argue that they should be in power, whether in an election or through an independence referendum.
If we also take potential cross-party rebels from the other amendments of last week, such as the Tories who voted/abstained on Grieve/Spelman/Cooper/Reeves amendments, or Labour MPs who backed Brady, we come up with these numbers:
That’s a total of 137, which would be enough to flip her 230 defeat of last time. BUT a good chunk of those are People’s Vote backers. If time ticks down and it’s a choice of TM’s Deal or No Deal, what do these MPs decide is the lesser of two evils?
We don’t believe all of them would happily back the government in that situation. Abstention is a possibility, or an outright No to a Bad Deal (and inherently to Brexit itself) is also on the cards. It will vary by MP to MP, depending on the depth of their spiritual attachment to Remain and inevitably their constituency’s Leave vote.
And so, although TM is off to Brussels, we believe the numbers continue to be a struggle for her to pass anything through Parliament, whatever fudge-like concession she wins. Donald Tusk’s banter is the least of her issues.
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