The Maverick Austin Mitchell Writes

“How is it possible to vote against “no deal” in advance of the dealing?

“Does parliament now vote on hypotheticals not specifics? Better to have a séance!

“I can’t help admiring the way Recalcitrant Remainers, apart from lunatics and other Liberals, have managed to disguise their desire to stop Brexit. For two years of parliamentary tactics and fear creation, they’ve held Brexit up rather than killed it, but defenestrated poor old Theresa who attempted to accommodate them.

“Now, as departure date nears, their attack is on a “no deal” Brexit, rather than any Brexit at all. This is done to weaken a Brexit government by depriving it of its weapon of last resort and encourage the EU to argue that a deal which can’t pass Parliament can’t be changed.

“Next there’s the claim that they’re not defeating Brexit but defending democracy by bringing Guardian readers onto the streets to demonstrate against a “coup”, a “dictatorship” and the emasculation of Parliament. This provided a useful opportunity for Owen Jones to harangue Waitrose customers about the joys of socialism, for Momentum to fraternise with the liberal elite and for others to build their upper body strength by waving EU flags (not to mention the bonanza for flag importers).

“Sadly the hysteria didn’t help. People welcome a Prime Minister who’s doing something at last. They don’t like Parliament, the politicians who live there or the messing about that’s gone on there on behalf of an EU they don’t particularly like either.

“The fourth and final tactic is tripping Boris up in Parliament with the help of Remainer Bercow.

But how? They disagree about the tactics. Not a vote of confidence, if it were carried the Queen would be obliged to send for Corbyn. They can’t legally ban “no deal” if the EU forces one on us. They can’t demand a referendum, as there’s nothing to vote on. They can’t demand an election. Labour in its present state would lose.

“So it’s a field day for lawyers, quibblers and parliamentary pedants who have narrowed things down to an extension of Article 50. That’s the preference of the EU because it’s so difficult for the hydra to get agreement on anything else. Which is why they’ve suggested that through their British allies.

“The public will not be happy with kicking the can down the road for longer, nor will the vested interests calling for an urgent decision. It won’t budge an inflexible EU but it will force Boris into an election to capitalise on its obduracy.

“That election will be difficult to predict because the electorate is split four ways: Brexit versus Remain and Labour versus Tory. The Tory vote will be split with the Brexit Party and Labour’s with the alienated people and regions which would normally support it. The Tory-Brexit split may be easier to fix than Labour’s long-term loss. Which leaves only one thing clear: the end result won’t be a resurgence of respect for Parliament, politicians or the British political system. Parties can be patched up, respect can’t”.

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