Delay, repay?

Should I stay or should I go now? If I go there will be trouble. If I stay it will be double

Today’s $64,000 question: Does anyone, for one minute, think that the three month Brexit-delay that Teresa May is asking Donald Tusk for was to give them time to finalise a few details, dot some I’s and cross some T’s on all the renegotiated trading deals? No, didn’t think so.

I know that there is an army of civil servants working away in Westminster and that we only ever see in the media what the politicians are prepared to let us see, but surely, in a world where every breath you take is documented on Twitter, Instagram or the Laura Kuenssberg and Robert Peston blogs, if we were anywhere near a finalised deal on anything we’d have had a sniff of it by now.

They say the definition of idiocy is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. So Speaker John Bercow’s pulling of   “strong and longstanding” parliamentary precedents dating back to 1604 out of his hat makes sense. The Prime Minister will not be permitted to bring the same old deal before Parliament to vote upon unless there are “significant changes” to it. A call that the EU’ Michel Barnier has taken up as well.

She clearly thinks that if she just keeps presenting the same argument in a different coloured pen Parliament will get behind the deal eventually because she will have worn them all down. Alas for Mrs May, I fear that this has moved way, way beyond whether we should still be a part of the EU. To be honest, there are times when I think of the hazy days just after the referendum was announced with a sort of fond longing. When one side was certain they had the answers and that it was all going to be a breeze. When the Remainers were still licking their wounds and wondering what went wrong (arrogance, bad planning and a flaxen-haired chancer with his eye on the bigger picture is my guess). Basically, back to a time before it all went a bit crap.

No-one, surely, thinks that this is about whether we remain part of a pan-European market for the easier trade and movement of goods and people anymore. Oh sure, it may be about that at its heart, out in the provinces and on the streets. But it certainly isn’t in Parliament anymore. In Westminster this whole sorry shebang has now become about power and who is going to rule the roost.

The Tory hard-liners, the ERG and even parts of the opposition can smell blood and they are in for the kill. May is on borrowed time.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

Check Also


It just doesn’t stop

Because no matter who we are or where we come from, we’re all entitled to …