A threader at The Slog yesterday recommended action by Parliament (or whoever) to kill every tenth Remainer. This struck me as a little extreme, albeit potentially enjoyable. The goings-on at Westminster, on the other hand, were unendurably painful.
The pain came from various directions: watching the midget bombast John Bercow, listening to SNP rentagobs, enduring Labour hypocrisy, hearing the assertions of third-rate Tory backbenchers and so forth. But primarily, the upsetting part of watching the British political “system” in action these days involves the sheer chaos of it all. Brexit as a crisis has found this out as never before: but if we’re being honest here, the archaic nature of the process at times beggars belief.
The interventions, the giving way and the feigned politesse really do rankle in a Parliament more divided than at any time since Cromwell – and (as opposed to the mid 17th century) unable to choose civil war as an option.
But the complications we’re seeing on Brexit could only have been created by the Whitehall mind. Just as with Rail privatisation in Britain, a negotiation conducted by bureaucrats (without recourse to Parliament) has produced a stream of illogical mayhem.
The architect of this farrago, Oliver Robbins, can sit back and mouth off in Belgian bars: unlike MPs, he will not be ejected from his job. Unlike most workers, he has been paid a whopping bonus for negotiating capitulation to a foreign power – itself in the midst of an existential fiscal and economic crisis. Unlike 1950s born female State pensioners, he can look forward to a gold-plated, index-linked pension. He is the unaccountable authoritarian sociopath predicted by Franz Kafka over a century ago: above the Law, and beneath contempt.
But the anarchy he and the Remoaners have unleashed permeated everything yesterday in the Commons. Backstops, alternatives as yet undefined to backstops, No Deals on and off tables, extensions ruled out and factored in, Customs Unions to be left or embraced, Labour factions, Tory factions, potty SNP amendments, Government amendments, Remain amendments, mass abstentions and redoubled efforts by a Theresa May who didn’t even bother to turn up, and gave precious few clues as to what exactly her next effort will be, redoubled or otherwise.
How many voters in the UK have the time, motivation, discernment and intelligence to extract something from this palace of gasbags? For myself, I can only offer these observations on the day’s proceedings:
- The Corbyn amendment demanding a meaningful vote by February 27th at the latest was defeated. It was important for the élites to do this, because success for Corbyn would’ve made it easier to stop the May/Robbins drift into an Article 50 extension.
- A predictable defeat for the Government requesting a majority to retain confidence in Mother Theresa’s current search for a backstop breakthrough. While not legally binding, this does pave the way for Parliament to stop the May/Robbins drift into an Article 50 extension.
- If these two outcomes strike you as contradictory, congratulations – you are sane and awake.
Beyond this comedy of manners, there is a very real possibility that Robbins and his German ladyfriend in Brussels have concocted a pre-agreed plan (of which May and Hammond will be aware) for an 11.59 pm deal to be revealed some time in mid March.
But knowing the European Commission as I do, I am fairly sure there will be a bitter pill to swallow with it, designed to save their already overly crispy bacon.
So on the basis that this too will founder, the Remaindeer majority in Parliament will take control away from the Executive, legislate to take No Deal off the table, and mandate the Government to ask for an Article 50 extension.
Very, very few people in Britain grasp the profound and potentially calamitous consequences of the Commons seizing power in this way. It could well be that, come March 30th, we will all be citizens of a country where the bureaucrats are engaged in a battle with elected politicians, and elected backbenchers (plus a bent Speaker) are in turn trying to wrest power from the Executive.
This would make us easy meat for the vassal-creators in Brussels. Meanwhile, The People are nowhere to be seen in this nightmare landscape.