Thursday, 11 April 2019

Treat the European Parliament Elections as a Referendum

I could have blogged half a dozen times since the last entry, but I left it until the European Union Council. It has just agreed an extension until October 31st with a review in June; however, failure to take part in the European Parliament elections means we must leave without a deal on June 30th.

What this means is that those European Parliament Elections - the government has made the order to hold them - could be a substitute referendum. Such MEPs would not sit for very long.

We now need Change UK, the Liberal Democrats, Greens, Scottish Nationalists and Welsh Nationalists to put up candidates with the simply policy to revoke, and set them up against, no doubt, The Brexit Party and UKIP as these would want an instant deal. Many Conservatives will not bother to either stand or support, and Labour will stand but obviously cannot support a revoke position.

With a breather given by the EU Council, the Tory Party is free to spend some time to eat itself. This party must be punished for introducing the damned referendum in the first place, its Prime Minister running away when he lost his gamble of party against country (both lost), and then having a pathetic Prime Minister and Cabinet that could not manage this properly, from Chequers to the Withdrawal Agreement with a sort of six of one and half a dozen of the other that satisfied no one.

I noticed a change of tone on a Sky News vox pox on Wednesday 10th: people saying this had gone on too long, the process had failed, and it was time to stop it.

Meanwhile, Labour must not bale out this government with some, as it used to be called, 'smoke filled room' deal with the government, to try and then raise a minority of the two main parties to get the Withdrawal Agreement through. After all, 177 Tories voted against any extension on Wednesday. Corbyn would be finished at that point, if he isn't already.

Theresa May has to be removed. A Tory right wing Prime Minister would lose Tory support; as the remainer wing would resign the Tory whip. In fact the space now allowed also gives space for breakage of that party. It could now be that Cabinet Ministers resign: they didn't after long political and governmental Cabinets because they could see Labour snared in, but if Labour escapes the trap then there is nothing left, and the Cabinet leavers can cause their disruption as seemed logical.

Revoke keeps the UK in the European Union and the nations of the UK together. However, there are political fall outs that will happen as a result of a wasted three years and trauma to the body politic.

Sunday, 31 March 2019

Evaluating Theresa May

I am motivated here by Philip Norton's lecture on 18th March at the Speaker's House, shown on BBC Parliament. The lecture is about the feasibility of a William Whitelaw premiership. Norton took a leaf out of Weberian sociological method and produced ideal types of politicians that make it to Prime Minister. He also uses them in a 2015 e-textbook called The British Polity.

So let us use them here:

Innovators seek power to implement a future goal of their own vision and drag their party behind them (as with wartime Churchill, Thatcher).

Reformers seek power to implement a particular programme drawn by the party (as with Neville Chamberlain, Clement Atlee).

Egoists seek power for its own sake and seek to preserve it with them at all costs (as with Anthony Eden, Harold Wilson).

Balancers either seek power to achieve a balance within the party and society or do this having been conscripted into the role (as with power-seeking Harold Macmillan, or conscripted Alec Douglas-Home).

As ideal types, Prime Ministers can in all reality straddle more than one. Clearly Theresa May is a Balancer, and sought power to be this. Her belief system was little more than loyalty to the Party; we can see this in her immigration decisions at the Home Office, and fairly disastrous they were. But she may also be an Egoist, perhaps surprisingly, in the way she seems to regard her own position in office as vital and is hard to shift.

She shares characteristics with Edward Heath in not being pally and not engaging in small talk. Edward Heath, says Norton, was not an ideologue, as sometimes considered in his Selsdon Man days, but was a technocrat. And Theresa May is also a technocrat. Heath did have a hinterland, but May is more like Thatcher in not having a hinterland. When politics is your life, you are very difficult to remove from office, and this is the case with May. Her promises to go are always conditional and she wants to control the timing, as well as pretty much everything else. Like Thatcher, the act of removal will prove bloody, this at a time of national weakness. I have written often now that the remainers in the Cabinet have to remove her first to get the others to resign, and fill the void, otherwise it could all swing the other way, and the exit group will stay as the remainers go - and then they will strike without mercy.

Theresa May is an Egoist in as much as she believes in her own resources, and, unable to persuade, gets support by bashing people over the head and creating panic from the ticking clock. It is a very bad way to get support - the difference between wind and rain and sunshine in getting someone to remove their coat. Bad feeling results in bad reactions, bad policy.

One might play this game with Tony Blair. This can be left to another time.

In the aforementioned lecture, Philip Norton refers to the fact that he also use this Weberian method in 1990 to survey and produce types of Tory MP. These were, then, the Neo-Liberals (market forces), the Tory Right (morality, law and order), the Populist (left wing socially and right wing on law and order - today they would have become pro-gay and lesbian), the Thatcherite (market forces plus law and order), the Tory Faithful (party over ideology), the Damp (some government intervention) and the Wets (government intervention as needed).

What we know is that May is not Thatcherite or neo-Liberal (these can be placed together now). The last vestiges of these within Cameron and Osborne were gone. She is slightly populist, as today, but has never been pro-LGBT herself. She panders to the Tory Right, on Europe, but clearly her Downing Street speech on becoming Prime Minister shows that she was not one, and also she has shown some intended Damp but not very Wet. She is, of course, Tory Faithful.

This has proved her undoing, because being Tory Faithful is to be split on Europe; the Tory Right might also be regarded today as nationalist, and the Damp and Wet are pro-European. (Thatcher saw the European Union as a back door to socialism, whereas the Single Market was hardly that.) Being Tory Faithful, when the party is in at least two places on the key issue of the day, is rather self-defeating.

Apparently Ian Duncan Smith is considering throwing his hat into the Tory leadership ring. He might have been the worst Tory leader in modern times, but Cameron and May must be ranked as being the worst Prime Ministers. I'd rather forget Cameron than subject him to these ideal types. He was a Blair-clone who gambled the Party for the country and ran away when he lost the gamble and plunged us all into the mess we are now in under his incompetent successor.

So she is a Balancer of the Tory Faithful, predominantly. And it is not what was needed. She needed to be a Reformer as well as Balancer, and Damp. One has to think that, beyond loyalty to the cradle of her political party that defines her life, Theresa May believed in little else. She might have drawn on the Liberal Nationalism of Joseph Chamberlain, but there is little evidence of that; most evidence is that she was devoid of political philosophy. Her Downing Street speech showed some populism and dampness, but they were not implemented. She constantly referred to the Party, and it is on its broken back that she has fallen.

How a General Election Can Produce a Result

At last Labour is ahead of the Conservatives in the polls. The Mail on Sunday reports a five per cent lead. The Cabinet implosion that seems increasingly likely makes a General Election more likely too.
May says that a Customs Union solution to leaving the European Union with a deal would be against her party's manifesto. What she means is that half her Cabinet would walk out if she took this and used it to apply for a long extension. On the other hand, failure to intend to go to the EU Council Meeting on April 10th with a solution would cause the other side of the Cabinet to walk out as well. Also some 170 Tory MPs are demanding no long term extension. The upshot is a broken record, to try again for the Withdrawal Agreement and/ or the Political Declaration probably pitched against the Customs Union option on the notion that she could win against a Customs Union. Not with 58 short on the WA that would be more with the PD - so a straight fight would garner forces for the Customs Union, even amongst those who would remain as full members. Once there is a delay, anything is possible including remain. So this becomes a final battle, and either the government goes for the Customs Union or the government collapses at Cabinet level - in that the hard right walk out and then we get by fast footwork the removal of May, a caretaker and bringing in a set of opposition politicians who could guide the result through.

We are forever told that a referendum on the deal is divisive, and this is surely true. I am myself not a fan of any referendum, except one to support or reject a given decision. This second one might fulfil that condition, but it might equally be an either-or that is another gamble, and carries the political risk that no deal off the table (the economic risk being too great) is seen as a stitch-up.

We are also told that a General Election cannot decide the issue because the parties are split. I have thought this too, but now there are grounds for thinking otherwise. What may make the General Election something to decide the issue is the lack of credibility in both main parties, the Tories for making a mess and Labour for apparent indecision, PLUS the emergence of candidates for the Brexit Party and Change UK. Change UK do need to negotiate with the Liberal Democrats. But there could be a Macron style from nowhere result here, if only because the Brexit Party and the now undoubtedly racist UKIP will take votes from each other and won't be able to negotiate unlike the Lib Dems and Change UK. We know that the Social Democratic Party collapsed, but the SDP were derailed by the Falklands War and, of course, the voting system. But if the two main parties melt down, then the first past the post system can deliver as it did to the Scottish Nationalists the moment they lost the Independence referendum.

The meltdown would happen during the campaign, in part because the manifestos would be confused and Theresa May or a caretaker leader would head the Tories' campaign. Whether Corbyn could rally support as he did in 2017 may depend on whether the remain supporters rally to the Labour flag again. There is some doubt about this. Other issues of pressing need may well benefit Labour. But Tory and Labour remain votes may well go to the Liberal Democrats and Change UK. The Scottish National Party have domestic issues to tackle but for a UK representation they are bound to advance on Labour and the Tories this time. UKIP and Brexit Party may draw Tory right votes, but cancel each other out in effectiveness. It is not clear how the Tory right will do; also the Democratic Unionist Party may suffer in Northern Ireland for being unrepresentative of a narrow remain province and assisting uncertainty.

So there is a real chance that the outcome may well produce a result for the country, and a likely remain parliament again. And this time the remain aspect would be revoke. Set against this is the fact that ever fewer constituencies are marginal: what would have delivered landslides in the past delivers small victories or minority administrations now. But, if the meltdown happens, the change (pun intended) to something new is possible, once the tipping point is passed.

Friday, 29 March 2019

Extend for a Full Term...

Well, the margin was bigger than expected - 58 votes - and surely means that it is dead. But the bunker mentality continues, to put her (presumably) political declaration this time up against the one that might emerge from the indicative votes on Monday. But that would leave the Withdrawal Agreement unpassed, and without the legislative time to turn it into law. In other words, there must be now a long extension at the very least.

The question is, given Theresa May's turn-off performance at the last European Council meeting, is she really the person to go there for a long extension? It would make a significant difference if the Prime Minister was someone else, such as David Lidington or even Amber Rudd. Then the fresh face and the different intent would assist a process of extension. The 'run off' proposal is hardly the most important aspect.

It is up to the Cabinet to remove her. No one else will, and nothing fresh will happen without this.

The 'price' of an extension I think - if I was the EU Commission and Council President - is a full term. If you elect Members of the European Parliament then they should be elected for a full term. The UK could then have that amount of time to pause, consider, propose and sort itself out.

If this leads to no exit of Britain from the European Union, then, oh dear.

Thursday, 28 March 2019

When a Resignation is Not

So the coup went so far, to push Theresa May on to the cliff edge to let her wobble in the considerable wind and different gusts. She has offered to go if she gets her deal through, which also means she has offered to stay if she does not.

The first stage of the indicative votes have gone through, with a referendum to a deal and a customs union as having the best votes, but not sufficient. The possibility is the Prime Minister's deal coming into the list of options, and many that abstained might vote for it.

Jacob Rees-Mogg was against it, very strongly, and then reluctantly in favour of it, and now he is against it again because the Democratic Unionist Party are against. The DUP was never going to vote for it, and indeed will vote against it. This means the hardcore Tories will be joined by others, like Rees-Mogg, to still vote against it. That May has made her wobble to go from her own mouth means that Labour MPs are less likely to vote for it beyond the three if it facilitates installing a more exit the EU type Tory leader.

Although revoke got a limited support, the fact is that up against a no deal exit on the last days, many of those who rejected this may be forced to do it. There could also be a fatigue of stopping and reconsidering. Clarke's custom union proposition wasn't exactly his own preferred choice. He would revoke.

Theresa May was brought up in the Tory Party. Civil servants are minuting government meetings in Cabinet carefully because these refer not to the country so much as what is best for the Tory Party. When the big Public Inquiry comes into this appalling mess, they will want how they have been compromised by our third rate politicians to be on the record. Theresa May's whole basis for decision making has been based on the Tory Party. She was never able to take them on.

One thing that was fairly disgusting in last weekend's press leaks and attack on May from within Tory Party high levels was about a team of people ready to take Theresa May out of the Commons rapidly. This was supposed to be based on her running down mentally under all the stress. This was kicking the woman on something else: she has type 1 diabetes and a drop in blood sugar due to extended answering in the House of Commons could lead to confusion and ill health. This 'plan' for her rapid exit will have existed from the first day she became Prime Minister; it may well have existed when she was Home Secretary. But politics is a dirty game, and in generating a coup attempt the gutter can be visited.

This does not mean she has been an appalling Prime Minister. She has been the worst, if after Cameron. He party-first strategy, forever feeding the crocodiles, had been disastrous. Cameron gambled the country for the party, and she has continued to do the same.

She's likely to go anyway. It doesn't follow that an orderly leadership election follows, because she could indeed go to require interim leadership. Plus the Cabinet coup makers may need the interim leader to get ahead of an exit enthusiast. They abstained on these indicative votes as a stop-gap to making a decision about anything; but if the remainers walk out of the Cabinet then the leavers will indeed install their own.

Theresa May never believed in anything. She was a remainer on balance, but so was the Tory Party with the expectation of a narrow win for Cameron and then his fall. When the vote went the other way, the infighting arrived at her as last one standing, and so she declared that Brexit meant Brexit and they were going to make a success of it. But she has not. The reason she has hung on and hung on is because she still wanted to make a success of it - some how. But the cul-de-sac has left her with nowhere to go. She is still trying to hang on, to be sure.

Northern Ireland may not have its Stormont, but the UK hasn't had a fully functioning government now for a long time. The UK is much diminished abroad, and is almost falling in on itself at home. Services aren't working, problems are not being corrected, more people are living in poverty, and there is a real sense of hopelessness. Forget these unemployment figures: when they compare with 40 years ago they are not comparing like with like. Universal Credit is causing real pain and the DWP is in chaos itself as it trains staff for something that is not working. Many people are underemployed, many badly paid, and those relying on benefits are having a terrible time.

It may be - and I think it looks like this - that Theresa May needs to be pushed out of office. She hasn't said she will go, she is instead trying to make a bargain, but if the deal is still dead then she won't go. She needs to be pushed. They need an interim leader that becomes more flexible.

If Gove or Johnson, and indeed if a number of exit enthusiasts win the Tory leadership, it will definitely split. But MPs can see the options for the future, how two Tory candidates will go to its elderly membership, and a split can project forward easily. I'm expecting a few more now to come to The Independent Group and, quite possibly, a new pro-European Conservative Party forming as well.

The Independent Group had better get its skates on, because if a General Election comes soon it needs a name and a set of candidates and an agreement with the Liberal Democrats and Greens. The Liberal Democrats need a new leader rapidly as well. If revoke is to be serious beyond Scotland, these two parties have got to move and quickly.

Sunday, 24 March 2019

The Week Ahead

Theresa May in her zig-zagging wants to put her deal forward again, but is advised to hold back, see other options fail and then put hers in again.

A Prime Minister by virtue of the office holds cards, and plays them, and most Prime Ministers look at the values on the cards and realises weaknesses as well as strengths. Theresa May could be doing two things this weekend at Chequers:

1) Saying goodbye to the staff, before announcing her end.
2) Still trying to force her way through.

However, everyone is fed up with this bunker mentality. She placates one side and then the other. By having two extensions, the EU has boxed clever. Both sides have their chances, both sides see their losses ahead. In this, there needs to be movement, and we cannot be having Theresa May imposing herself.

She said next to nothing in supporting remain in the referendum campaign, where her strategy was to pick up the leadership if Cameron won - the Tory right would have turned against him and he would have had to resign anyway - and she received the leadership after he lost, partly through the attack of Gove on Johnson and the incompetence of Andrea Leadsom's mouth - a quality she is now demonstrating against the Speaker of the House of Commons.

But the signs were there with Theresa May in the Home Office. She took ages to make a decision and then became utterly rigid. Windrush and the Hostile Environment were both her legacies, and disasters they were. It was Tory Party politicking then, and populism. She really does not believe in anything much. That flexibility was a charade for the rigid loyalty to the football team. The Tory Party had brought her up and now she owed it for giving her pole position.

But as it was for the British West Indians' human rights, so she became for us - a disaster. Both David Cameron and Theresa May have been the most disastrous Prime Ministers ever in recent times. Both have gambled the country for the sake of their Party.

The British Constitution does not say that party leaders should be chosen to then command the House of Commons. It says someone comes forward to be chosen by the Monarch who can command the House of Commons. This is why a Cabinet coup is entirely legitimate.

One can see David Lidington taking over, and he will do so without a personal agenda. Other people will effectively run his show. But it has to be highly likely that the Cabinet will split, and many exit of the EU types will resign. The sensible thing then would be to appoint people from around the House of Commons. This is because the Tory Party will be at war with itself. Stability will come if people like Liz Kendal, Chuka Umunna, Jo Swinson, Justine Greening, Dominic Grieve, or variations like them get appointed to Cabinet positions with the task of sorting out the Brexit mess. But even without this, the main players will be the likes of Amber Rudd, David Gauke and Philip Hammond.

There are at least two, maybe three Tory Parties. There is the hard right (leavers), the compromisers, and the left (remainers). The election of a leader from any wing but the compromisers will itself be enough for formally split the party, but the war in the party should be enough to divide it regardless. It may go three ways or two, forcing compromisers to choose. Why? Because the party is incapable of presenting itself for a General Election.

As for Labour, it isn't in much better shape. Its leader has shown sectarian party first attitudes recently, and has shown his own 'tin ear' and not a little incompetence in running his party. Unless there are wide-scale deselections, and there are not, the right wing elected will prevent the socialist wonderland Corbyn and close would like to pursue. Despite the fact that the Tory government is a shambles beyond all expectation, Labour have been behind in the polls. It's incredible.

Vince Cable is solid but not an inspiring leader; it is good that he is going but a new leader must relaunch the party, and do so with The Independent Group (by whatever name they choose suitable for elections).  I can only think that The Reform Party makes sense. Dominic Grieve calls them Social Democrats. Heidi Allen is, but I'm not sure about Anna Soubrey or Sarah Wollaston. It does not follow that the Tory left split will join this group: it is more likely that they will form their own. Each new Tory group will try to become the replacement Tory Party.

There may be a Norway plus result to the May-free search, but in the end that arrangement is EU without having a vote: there is a place for EEA and EFTA membership and not all of its institutions and policies are those of the EU. But it is a grouping that is for countries that may join sometime, not those who left - or not until up to now. It may be all that the UK can manage.

I do not underestimate a revoke happening: because a revoke allows a full stop, a pause and the political spill-out (painful as it will be) to debate without pressure where we want to be, and allow political parties - like a right wing Tory party, to make the case for exiting, to win parliamentary seats, form a majority, and enact its policies. Parliament makes the decisions, managed by the executive branch, not referenda. Referenda should be reserved only for the people to support or reject a major decision already taken by government and parliament, not to pass the buck on a gamble like Cameron did.

The Cabinet Coup to be Completed?

The Press is predicting a cabinet coup. Blow my own trumpet time. I was on the case last year. I didn't predict everything, especially the timing, but the internal logic has unfolded.

Sunday, 2 September 2018: New Political Season: A White Knuckle Ride

But, in the meantime, there is enough co-operation for someone like Chuka Umunna to be the man of the moment to rise up beyond his front bench and do some informal leadership...

So I am predicting that there will be a new informal leadership in the House of Commons bypassing both front benches. Chuka is the leader, and the group covers many Labour MPs, all the Liberal Democrats, the Scottish Nationalists for the purposes of the EU legislation, and the Tory pro-Europeans. Each Party will have its own sub-leaders too. This is important for co-ordination. In such a situation, Theresa May will fall, the House of Commons will organise itself, Corbyn will also be sidelined.

Wednesday, 14 November 2018: Brexit Crunch Pincer Movement

For a while now Downing Street has had a bunker mentality, believing it can fix this and fix that. One should never underestimate the ability of government to get its way. The government controls the parliamentary agenda, and has since the Blair government. It now timetables procedures, and long gone are attempts the extend and ruin the timetable. Secondly, an agreement is' boots on the ground', rather as people have learnt that the EU is 'boots on the ground'...

In that the Government holds the cards, the Government will try to make it a binary deal or no deal scenario, and thus the 20 plus Labour MPs may well grow in number. The number of remainer opposers on the Tory benches may well shrink. Nevertheless, the betting has to be that the draft agreement cannot get through Parliament.

What then? May would have to go, although she is likely to try and hang on. A Brexit Tory Prime Minister simply will not carry the Tory Party: it will be 1846 all over again...

Somehow, Parliament has to become itself the executive because this is where the hole is going to appear. There would have to be a huge political realignment at a time of national crisis, perhaps to organise a second referendum, or, better still (or both), ram on the brakes.

Wednesday, 14 November 2018: Surely This Could Not Be a Treaty

I have tried to imagine what this agreement would look like as a treaty. It won't get there, of course, but what if it did? It means we have no political representation in the EU, an extendable transition period, a backstop that means a sort of customs union and Northern Ireland in the Single Market and Customs Union in effect.

What would future governments do with this? The trade agreement to be UK-wide must match Northern Ireland. Would they keep extending the transition period? Would the backstop be the model for the trade agreement?

This is like some or most of the advantages of being in the EU, without the political representation? What is the point of this?

Sunday, 25 November 2018: Come the Hour, Come the Woman?

A problem is that with a 'Brexit failure' the Tories will not vote for a General Election and it won't get the two thirds majority as required by the Fixed Term Parliament Act, which also removed calling an election by the Prime Minister, a one time monarchical power held by the Prime Minister. There is not a majority for a second referendum, and no one would know the questions to ask or have the rapid mechanism available to decide these. A Tory Party leadership election takes time and would be riven by division.

Oh dear oh dear? What will happen. There is a road forward, and no one has set this out. it is based on the fact that there is no requirement for a party leader to be the Prime Minister, and who is Prime Minister remains a monarchical power, this is to say the Prime Minister can be anyone who will present to the House of Commons and carry the vote in the house.

So we have the formal statement. The government may pledge to find a way to present the agreement back. Suddenly those 48 letters appear, to have a vote against Theresa May, but she would still win because Tories cannot agree on anyone else.

However, what matters is that the Cabinet itself implodes. In effect, the Amber Rudd and Philip Hammond faction of the cabinet, along with Jeremy Hunt and more, realise there is a crisis of an unprecedented kind, and effectively the five exiters (plus) resign - to begin with. The exiters cannot themselves force a cabinet coup. They can be replaced.

Sunday, 9 December 2018: The Movement Towards the Logic of Remaining

Saturday 8th December and Amber Rudd speaks out in a way that suggests she might emerge in the manner of my last blog entry to take the reins of government for the purpose of sorting out the exiting the European Union mess.

I need to adjust my crystal ball gazing, however, and in a manner away from what Amber Rudd was suggesting. The thought the Norway plus solution has potential in the House of Commons and Parliament as a whole. I rather agree with Anna Soubrey, however, that it seems to be receding.

Blame David Cameron and his gamble. He 'won' the Scottish Independence Referendum and thought he could do the double. Blame the Liberal Democrats for propping up the Tories: done in a previous crisis, but went on for too long and at too high a cost. Let's hope that the Conservative Party as it is reaps the destruction to them and benefit to us...

Sunday, 16 December 2018: The Strategy of a Cabinet Coup

But all this just goes back to what I have been suggesting here, and still no one seems to be saying this in the broader media. It is that the Cabinet has to remove her, via people who have not descended to May's brittle bunker mentality. It will be bloody, in the sense that someone must take over, many must walk out, and people from other parties come in, and start acting to produce legislation. The principal act has to be to pull out of Article 50, either to buy time or stop the thing altogether.

Saturday, 5 January 2019: Decisive New Year?

What I wrote in the previous blog entry stands. It will go to the wire. May's agreement with the European Union will fail to get through, and a crisis will lead to a cabinet coup, in effect, and a necessary rescinding of Article 50, ostensibly to buy time. The Prime Minister will have changed, and the Cabinet will propose such emergency legislation not based on party but on informal networks of MPs, some into the Cabinet. So I predict. And it will be a very rough time of reactions and betrayals.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019: Massive Defeat - What Next?

A second referendum is a dangerous strategy. It will be divisive, the proposers will again lose control of it like they did in 2016 (it became an expression of anti-austerity and looked to kick the government), and of course it could still result in a no deal exit. Such a referendum may happen, but only if Labour back it, and many MPs will not.

No referendum creates two tough choices. One is to leave with no deal on the 29th March later this year. The House of Commons can always produce a majority to stop this, and the Cabinet can also stop this, given the balance of opinion. But the only way to stop this is to revoke Article 50...

Even if there is a referendum, it does not follow that the EU 27 will approve unanimously an extension to Article 50. So it may still need to be revoked, which the UK government can do: the Cabinet can do it as an executive act of governing. However, done as the only viable means to prevent a no-deal, it should get a majority in the House of Commons - if it goes to a vote.

Expect Cabinet resignations, but also possibly expect across the House of Commons appointments into it. This will destroy the political parties as they are, but the predicament demands that incredibly difficult yet necessary decision. They will sell it to give the UK time to think. The Attorney General says we can only revoke if it is to stop it altogether, but (as Kenneth Clarke asked) does this mean for all time? Of course not. To invoke it again is surely allowed once. This is how they will sell it.

Monday, 18 February 2019: Labour Split: a Surprise and Due to Internal Incompetence

While the various 'remainer' MPs from different parties have worked together, it would be a big move to find several Tory MPs now joining Chuka Umunna and company at this stage. There may be other Labour MPs joining first, especially if Corbyn carries on in his usual moribund way of ignoring everyone except a small clique of people like him, plus the struggling Keir Starmer.

I am still expecting we get to a point where political forces, in the form of a Cabinet coup, revoke Article 50. Everything is pointing in this direction, a very binary crash out versus the revoke option.

The government is chaotic, trying to force people into its cul-de-sac and then try to force them to help it out by passing the dog's breakfast of a partial subservient attachment to the EU. It isn't going to happen, because the far right of the Tory Party have this blue-eyed mist that wants to send the country over the cliff edge. Cameron's gamble to hold his party together at the risk of the country has resulted in neither winning the bet. The country is going into a period of self-harm and the Tory Party will split.

One suspects Corbyn and company rather like leaving the EU because it will give them the opportunity to launch a socialist wonderworld - well, the MPs won't buy it. The result of the seven leaving is to constrain the next manifesto. Labour is likely to be conflicted for a long time.

Saturday, 23 February 2019: The Coup is On

My long predicted coup is on. After a week in which eight Labour MPs formed and joined the Independent Group, and three Conservatives then joined it, three Cabinet Ministers have written in a newspaper to signal that they will vote to give Parliament control and thus extend Article 50 if the Prime Minister has no deal to present to Parliament. There is also the possibility that the Prime Minister will receive a positive vote if she accepts putting it to a second referendum.

However, it is not clear that there will be anything to vote on in terms of a revised deal.The so-called Malthouse Compromise is dead in the water, and the issue remains the withdrawal agreement backstop - which the Brady Amendment a fortnight ago said should be replaced and now is only subject to legal reinterpretation, if that.

The Prime Minister with nothing (much) to report may well try to delay again, but really time is up for this...

Sunday, 10 March 2019: This Week Coming: Hold on to Your Seats

The late Robin Day used to say: "So here we are and here we go." This is the week of the crucial votes regarding leaving the European Union, or we think so. One has to give a little qualification to this, because they have been promised and pulled before, and frankly Geoffrey Cox, the Attorney General, as has achieved nothing at all...

Tuesday, 12 March 2019: The Dead Rabbit from Strasbourg

it would be a miracle if the whole agreement passes the meaningful vote. Plus the fact that many in Parliament tomorrow will have had little sleep. They will feel like they have been treated with contempt. It is not the way to get people on-side. Out of the hat came a dead rabbit.

Wednesday, 13 March 2019: Turmoil: and the Tory Split Coming Fast


Wow. Tonight in parliament turned out to be even more riveting than yesterday, with the government suddenly whipping against its own (amended) motion. It lost by 43, so the whipping was rather pointless. Seventeen ministers including four Cabinet ministers, including Rudd and Clark, abstained against its own policy, with one resigning by voting against...

Is the Cabinet going to allow the Prime Minister to keep dealing her low value cards? As I have put earlier, the Cabinet coup is operative, as seen tonight, but it is incomplete...

The Tory Party is so angry across itself tonight that it will surely split.

Also Wednesday, 13 March 2019: Chaos

Attorney General Geoffrey Cox marked his own homework and must have put Failed at the bottom. The unfolding disaster on Tuesday saw the Democratic Unionists say 'no' and obviously the 'headbangers' said no - and across the opposition. Even then some 40 or so votes switched. Only three Labour MPs voted with the government.

Theresa May may have symbolically lost her voice but I nearly lost mine when, after the 149 votes defeat, Nicky Morgan MP, in an interview soon after, considered a third vote on the Prime Minister's proposed deal. How dead does this have to be before it is buried? ...

The only good speech of leaders was that of the Scottish National Party Ian Blackford, who made the case for the European Union: the case that should have been made by the Yes campaign in 2016...

The disaster may be ended by revoking Article 50, with consequent negative effects for democracy. If people want to leave the EU, they should produce a majority in Parliament to do it. Parliament takes decisions and referenda confirm or reject decisions, rather than make a decision for Parliament. For this reason I remain opposed to a second referendum...

In effect, Labour's Shadow Shadow Cabinet (its influential driving backbenchers), Tom Watson's party within a party, a few Labour front-benchers, the SNP, the Liberal Democrats, Green, The Independent Group, a few backbench Tories and connected ministers, have to cohere and grow the will to put an end to this. Some of these people may well be consulted by a rump Cabinet in pursuit of tackling the crisis, revoking Article 50 and then going to the country.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019: The Prime Minister Must be Forced to Resign.

It is now time to for government members and Parliament to remove the Prime Minister. It should be done fast and with a caretaker leader, one that will allow facilitation of votes to find what is consensual in the House of Commons. I say this as a convinced and unapologetic remainer...

Why has this come about? Because, in her zig-zagging, last week a long extension was on offer that would allow 'The House' to find its consensus and act on it. What changed was half her cabinet revolted, to threaten resignations if she did go ahead with a long extension. And we had the free vote last week where the government sought approval for an extension beyond March 29th, and where eight cabinet ministers voted against, including the Exiting the EU Secretary who's just spoke in favour

Friday, 22 March 2019: Theresa May Zig-Zagging: Don't be Fooled

Don't be fooled by Theresa May's sudden change of tone: how wonderful MPs are doing their jobs and a reference even to alternatives to her deal. She zig zags and we have seen it too often: she will revert to type regarding this deal. The bunker mentality is still there.

She has to go. David Lidington could become a caretaker Prime Minister but he would be like the Fuhrer after Hitler: in the sense of chaos in defeat after political suicide and an inability to hold a divided Cabinet together. So half the Cabinet could walk out, presumably the harder exit half, and thus instead mean a Hammond or Rudd leadership and reference to other party personnel - to facilitate navigating the process through of indicative votes. This would complete the Cabinet coup I expected long back.