Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Home to roost


I am not exactly Boris Johnson's number one fan. Today ought to be truly horrifying but instead I greet the day with the usual sense of resignation. There, is though, some cause for wry amusement. The chickens are certainly coming home to roost.

The fact of the matter is that for all the malevolence of the ERG, they have always been in the minority and "no deal" has never had majority support. Parliament could very easily have turned that to its advantage. There have been at least half a dozen opportunities to avert it.

In the end, though, Parliament took a gamble. I'm not sure what they thought would happen when they refused for a third time to ratify the withdrawal agreement, but it should have been obvious that Theresa May's position would then be untenable. Did they believe a white knight remainer would rise from anonymity to save the day in the final hour? What did they seriously expect would happen?

So having dumped the only deal on the table for a managed departure, with Mrs May making it quite clear that it was this deal or no deal, we are now lumbered with Boris Johnson.

From here on in we can only expect failure. The new Tory government seems to think all we need do is believe hard enough and the EU will come around to our way of thinking. It will drop its historic opposition to ditching the backstop and back down despite every message since May's resignation announcement saying categorically they will not.

As it happens I am not a fan of the withdrawal agreement. My first reactions on this blog were not too far removed from other Brexiters. the only difference being that I realised that the deal was about as good as it was going to get  and even this deal is better than no deal. The balance of leverage was always going to be in the EU's favour and to get out of the EU in one piece we were always going to have to take a hit and hope to claw our way back to some kind of equilibrium.

Instead of facing reality, the ERG brigade threw a massive tantrum, and it was easy to see where that was going. Through the force of propaganda "no deal" had become The One True Brexit, and the only Brexit they would accept. That should have been enough for Parliament to realise that we'd run out of road. Instead they played double or quits while the Labour party sat on its hands.

The excuses for doing so are pitiful. Labour claim the deal did not do enough to protect workers rights. Scuse me, but isn't that sort of the point of a The Labour Party? They expect an external treaty to do the job for them? This is exactly the sort of bovine tribalism that brought us here to begin with.

At the heart of this is a Parliament that never intended to deliver Brexit. They mouthed all the platitudes about respecting the vote and begrudgingly voted to trigger Article 50 but ever since have done everything possible (albeit ineptly) to frustrate the process. That's what made this a them and us fight to the death.

So, as you can imagine, with my Twitter feed this morning full of distraught remainers asking "How did we get here?", my sympathy is not vast. The balance of parliamentary power was always in the favour of the remainers. All they really had to do to avert a no deal Brexit was to simply have accepted that Britain did in fact vote to leave the EU. This they could never do, so today they meet a little thing called consequences.

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