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It’s Double or Quits for Theresa May

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Written by Caroline Bell

Caroline Bell lists the steps in Theresa May’s plan which she describes as ‘the biggest assault on our democracy and constitution since the 17th century

There is no point watching the news to try to work out what will happen next in the Brexit betrayal so carefully orchestrated by Theresa May. It’s all going perfectly to plan. And that makes it relatively easy to work out the next stage in the biggest assault on our democracy and constitution since the 17th century. The new EU absolutism is being forged before our eyes – by the very people elected to preserve it.

In yesterday’s instalment of the Brexit pantomime, the House of Commons was handed a loaded gun, and Brussels and the PM are crossing their fingers, desperately hoping they will pull the trigger and say they want to revoke Article 50. One would caution any MP tempted to do so.

The steps taken to get from May’s opening position that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’ and that ‘we are leaving the Single Market and the Customs Union and taking back control of our borders, laws and money’ to this sorry state of affairs, where we are being permanently locked into the very organisation we voted to leave, can be mapped out.

  1. Stitch up the Tory leadership campaign so hardcore Remainers get the keys to Downing Street.
  2. Get rid of a comfortable majority which would have delivered Brexit and create a parliamentary quagmire to slow down legislation and put procedural roadblocks in the way of vital Brexit legislation.
  3. ‘Take charge’ of Brexit negotiations to stop the good progress being made and sign a Joint Statement locking the UK into the Irish backstop trap.
  4. Reject a free trade agreement offered by the EU and replace it with the Chequers Plan, forcing the resignation of Brexiteer ministers.
  5. Suppress details of no-deal plans and delay legislation for trade.
  6. Present a 600-page draft Withdrawal Agreement to the Cabinet which even the Brexit Secretary had not seen, and refuse to allow ministers time to read it or take legal advice.
  7. Sign the WA without Cabinet approval and despite advice from the Attorney General warning that it offers no unilateral exit mechanism.
  8. Force the resignation of more Brexiteer ministers.
  9. Misrepresent the WA in the media, the House of Commons, and in expensive government PR.
  10. Pull the first meaningful vote when it becomes clear that people can actually work out how appalling the WA is.
  11. Focus attention on the NI backstop and promise to get legal changes to it in order to win a vote of no confidence in your leadership.
  12. Do absolutely nothing. Continue to frustrate UK Brexit legislation, particularly in trade and customs.
  13. Put the unchanged agreement to a vote in the Commons and lose by a historic majority.
  14. Refuse to resign.
  15. Con backbenchers that you will discuss their compromise proposals with the EU.
  16. Sign a ‘legally binding’ joint statement with the EU that locks the UK into permanent BRINO as the future relationship, and issue a unilateral declaration that the British government will break international law.
  17. Put it to the vote and lose by a huge majority again.
  18. Refuse to resign.
  19. Delay crucial no-deal legislation further.
  20. Let your Remainer ops in the Commons get control of parliamentary business by enabling amendments to non-binding neutral government motions.
  21. Say that you are bringing the Withdrawal Agreement back for a third vote and it is your ‘deal’ (which isn’t a deal at all) or ‘no Brexit’ because ‘Parliament won’t allow no deal’ even though Parliament has already legislated for it.
  22. Use executive power to ask for an extension to Article 50 on the basis of a non-binding Commons motion that has no legal force, even though triggering Article 50 required an Act of Parliament.
  23. Humiliate yourself and the country once more in Brussels and take fresh orders from the French president on how to stop Brexit.
  24. Claim that the extension trumps UK law and threaten to create legal chaos by allowing for two separate legal orders to exist in the UK when no deal Exit legislation kicks in during the extension period.
  25. Claim that Exit Day can be changed by Statutory Instrument, even though this has serious constitutional and financial implications that can only be resolved by an Act of Parliament.
  26. Fail to declare how you will manage the ‘clash in UK law’ if Exit Day is not changed.
  27. Blame everything on MPs and tell the public you are fighting Parliament to deliver Brexit…
  28. Try to bully Brexiteers and the DUP to vote for the Withdrawal Agreement even though the Speaker has said it cannot be put to a third vote without substantial changes.
  29. Refuse to resign.
  30. Allow your Remainer ops in the Commons to take over government business so that they can cast ‘indicative votes’ on what should happen next. Start talking up a second referendum and the possibility of cancelling Brexit.
  31. Fail to mention that in law the UK will leave the EU on 29 March unless legislation is passed to stop it.
  32. Sit back and watch while MPs do your dirty work.

The next act, if MPs are mad enough to cast an ‘indicative vote’ to revoke Article 50, will be a different play altogether. And it will be ugly.

Brexiteers need to rely on the law when the Prime Minister and her government are doing their utmost to circumnavigate it. Because the law says that we are leaving the EU on Friday, and changing that law requires a lot more than ‘indicative votes’ and carefully scripted lies from Theresa May.

About the author

Caroline Bell