Another week in Westminster, another bruising Brexit bunfight. After a short break over the weekend, the games started afresh. The first prize on offer was Lord Hailsham’s “meaningful vote” amendment. It seemed Conservative rebels were the winners when they met with the Prime Minister behind closed doors earlier in the week and were reassured the government would put forward a suitable compromise. Fast forward to last night however and that victory seems to have fallen foul of political machinations. Theresa May could be storing up a lot of pain for herself next week; might this be the straw that broke the camel’s back?
But it’s not just Theresa May who’s been feeling the heat this week. On Wednesday, Jeremy Corbyn suffered his biggest blow to date on Brexit as 89 Labour backbench MPs rebelled against his instruction to abstain on the Lords amendment to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill. The rebellion included six resignations from the frontbench. In contrast, just two Conservatives defied Mrs May by voting for the EEA amendment and the culprits will surprise no-one: prominent Europhiles Ken Clarke and Anna Soubry.
It was not quite an out-and-out victory for the Prime Minister, who also had to contend with a resignation from the justice minister Phillip Lee hours before the vote, but there was no doubt relief that Conservative rebels did not number more. That said, now that we’re really getting into the meat of what our future relationship with the EU will look like, Phillip Lee could be the first harbinger of doom for Theresa May, provided she gets through next week of course.
Ever since the election, she’s been favouring a policy of compromise in order to buy as much time as possible before having to make any significant decisions. Perhaps she enjoys such exercises in masochism. Certainly, that would help explain how she has manoeuvred herself into such a dire position.
Regardless, you can be sure that Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg are still stalking the Prime Minister with as much gusto as if the deer season had come early. You can just picture Rees-Mogg in a natty tweed hat.
As if all that wasn’t enough, the SNP decided to spice up PMQs for spectators by staging a mass walkout after their Westminster leader Ian Blackford was told he had to leave the chamber. Mr Blackford was protesting on the lack of time for proper debate regarding the Brexit Bill, which he described as a “power grab” by Westminster from Scotland.
Unlike most of the rest of the country, the SNP want to hear more about Brexit.
Mrs May and Mr Corbyn must have been equally glad the parliamentary sketch writers had a different source of fodder for once.
Bryony Sym, Account Director, Headland