by John Ward
It has been glaringly obvious for months that any Chequers-style deal the Prime Minister could get through Brussels and the UK Cabinet would be too Leave for the Remainers – and too Remain for the Brexiteers – in Parliament. Her Whips claimed yesterday to be “confident” the Draft Agreement will pass. Their duty is to inform Theresa May that it won’t.
Sir Keir Starmer has this morning confirmed that the Labour Opposition “will vote solidly against the Brexit deal approved last night by the Cabinet”. I think we can safely include Kate Hoey and the Labour Leavers in that number.
Arlene Foster the DUP leader last night confirmed that “she doesn’t see how” the DUP can support the deal. Conservative Whips last night confirmed that they believe the DUP will not support the deal.
This morning, Senior Tory Shailesh Vara has quit as Northern Ireland Minister, saying he “cannot support Theresa May’s halfway house Brexit”.
Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson have expressed their confidence in the solidarity of Tory Brexiteer desire to vote down the Brexit deal. That probably adds up to between twenty and fifty votes depending on the nature of Whip blackmail and/or size of the brown envelopes.
SNP Leader Nicola Sturgeon told the Guardian that “The Scottish National party is set to be a unified front against the Brexit deal put to parliament”.
LibDem leader Vince Cable has said, “It is very clear there is no majority in the House of Commons for this deal”.
Donald Tusk in Brussels this morning said, “This was never going to be anything more than damage control.”
Michel Barnier said, before leaving to address the Strasbourg Parliament, “There is still a long way to go and a great deal of work to be done”. In what some observers are calling “an amazing miracle” he did not mention ticking clocks.
I wrote three weeks ago that, even if May got Cabinet agreement to a Chequers deal, it would not pass Parliament. The deal on offer is in fact a further fudge and dilution of Chequers. Barring some unpredictable change of heart across both sides of the Chamber on a grand scale, the deal is doomed.
One – and only one – thing can now save the Prime Minister: Conservative Brexiteer MPs’ fear of triggering a general election in which a headless Tory Party is thrashed out of sight.
If they display this and support what is a blatant geopolitical betrayal of democracy, we could be looking at the end of the Conservative Party, never mind the Chequers “Brexit” Frankenstein Monster.
Conservative Whip “confidence” is IABATO in the wrong place at the wrong time: May is going to lose, and the Chief Whip Julian Smith needs to tell her so.
So with everything looking fine, dandy and settled against a cloudless horizon, I’m off for a long weekend of R&R.