Tuesday 29 January 2019

Lurching Towards No Deal

When Dave was in charge, Oliver Letwin was one of his key people. He was kept away from the cameras for a number of good reasons, but as a strategic brain he was essential to the Dave set up. So his contribution to the Commons this afternoon was always going to be interesting. Sidelined by May like the other Cameroons, he chose the occasion to nip back with this warning: "If things go wrong with No Deal, it will not be Opposition blamed, - it will be us, our party, not forgiven for many years ... will be first time when we have consciously taken a risk on behalf of nation ... and terrible things happen to real people".

Unfortunately for Letwin, the Tories under Theresa May are proving as short-termist and blinkered as his old gaffer. And after tonight's events in the Commons, they've gone and doubled down on that. Firstly, after Labour's and the SNP's amendments were seen off, Yvette Cooper's amendment which was to annex to parliament the power to request an extension of Article 50 got voted down. You might recall this was the very same piece of putative legislation that had Amber Rudd and David Gauke giving interviews that May could face the resignation of up to 40 ministers if they weren't granted a free vote. May didn't cave, they did. Nevertheless some usual suspect Tories did rebel. It's just a shame 14 honourable members on the Labour benches saved the government's bacon and put us on course to a hard Brexit. A round of applause if you please for Ian Austin, Kevin Barron, Ronnie Campbell, Rosie Cooper, Jim Fitzpatrick, Caroline Flint, Roger Godsiff, Stephen Hepburn, Kate Hoey, John Mann, Dennis Skinner, Laura Smith, Gareth Snell, and Graham Stringer.

In what will no doubt go down in history as the stupidest vote ever to have passed the chamber, Graham Brady's amendment got the nod by 317 to 301. Because the government chose to back this, May's position will now see her return to Brussels to renegotiate the Irish backstop. As was reported earlier this evening, Donald Tusk got her on the blower to say the EU are not interested in revisiting the agreed position, making these meetings entirely pointless. On the surface, May is positioning herself as a believer in magic. She thinks a new "mandate" from parliament means the EU will be forced to renegotiate - because it worked so well for Greece. But underneath, May knows very well nothing has changed, to repeat a well-worn phrase. Unlike the Brexiteers who think the EU are going to cave because Britain, May is knows that fruitless meetings in Brussels pisses away more time. And with no deal imminent, the chance of her deal passing inexorably increases while retaining the support of the hard Brexit right.

And so we're a step closer to a no deal Brexit and all the damage such a disaster would entail. Yes, this is a calamity cooked up by the Tories in response to a split in the Tories, and hopefully its consequences will damn them for the rest of this century. But let's not forget those enablers too, without whom none of this would be possible.


Speedy said...

Riddle me this:

May gets nothing from Brussels
May presents same deal to Commons
ERG, Unionist and Labour vote against May deal (ERG would vote against any deal)

There is now no mechanism to extend Article 50, is there? It will be 6 weeks before Brexit.
WTF is going to happen OTHER than No Deal?

Shai Masot said...

Why doesn't Dennis Skinner just go and join the Tories, eh?

George Carty said...

Since Dennis Skinner (unlike the other Labour leavers) is a bona fide leftie, wouldn't TUSC or whatever it's now called be more appropriate?

Phil said...

I'm not canvassing for Gareth Snell next time, I'll tell you that.

Anonymous said...


I suppose some variant of the Cooper amendment might again be moved, and this time it could pass?

Can't deny that we are starting to cut it all a bit fine though.

Unknown said...

Dennis Skinner is a true Socialist and has always voted against the UK being part of the EU which is and always has been a Neo Liberal organisation

Anonymous said...

And voting for the amendment in question wouldn't have stopped the UK not being part of the EU, just delayed it by a matter of months so that the calamity of no deal can more easily be avoided.

Or are you one of those "Lexiters" who (somehow) sees no deal as a *good* thing? Do please explain your, ahem, reasoning if so.

Jim Denham said...

"Dennis Skinner is a true Socialist": yes, in the sense that Marx used the term "true socialist(s)" in the Communist manifesto.

bbk said...

I read somewhere else (in the Guardian?) that what is actually designed to happen isn't No Deal, but "aye" on May's original deal (the one that was voted down by the biggest margin in modern parliamentary history).

Since much of Labour can not countenance no deal, when May fails to renegotiate and comes back to parliament the timeline will be such that her original deal is the only non-no deal option. So much of Labour will be forced to vote "aye" to avoid no deal Brexit.

I don't live in the UK and get all my knowledge second hand through blogs, twitter, and newspaper websites so I am definitely not plugged in like you guys in the UK. But the logic seems sound.

Boffy said...

The Labour MP's that backed the Tories, including those that abstained, should be kicked out by their CLP's. They could no doubt join up, however, with the other economic nationalists and proponents of blaming foreigners via immigration and import controls in the Communist Party of Britain.

It appears that Corbyn's mates in the CPB have now come out openly to state how industinguishable the line of the economic nationalists is from that of the ERG.

At the weekend they set out the logical conclusion of Corbyn's own position, by calling for Britain to crash out with a No Deal Brexit on March 29th.

Boffy said...

Isn't Britain also a Neo-Liberal organisation, in fact, an even more Neo-Liberal one than the EU. So, logically then shouldn't you and Skinner do the rational thing and vote to leave Britain too?

Perhaps you might find somewhere that is not neo-liberal that would suit you better, such as Putin's Russia, or Maduro's Venezuela. After all those regimes seem to promote similar kinds of reactionary values to those that promote Brexit, indeed in the case of Putin's Russia it provided a lot of funding for that cause, as well as for the brexiters cothinkers Trump, Le Pen, Wilders et al, not to mention all of the trolls to promote crackpot Brexit fake news.

Boffy said...

Cooper's motion might have had more chance of passing were it not for the fact that the Labour front bench waited until the very last minute before deciding to back it. It might have had more chance were it not for the fact that many of those Labour MP's that abstained or voted against must have felt that they were acting in accordance with Corbyn's real beliefs, and his continued advocacy of Brexit. Hoey, has previously openly stated that she thinks that she is acting in accordance with what Corbyn actually would be doing were he not Leader. It might have had more chance had it not been that the day before, many of those that voted against the amendment and who did so to appease bigots in the local constituencies, in the hope of keeping their cushy jobs, whilst ditching any vestige of principle they might have had, the Labour Front bench had also been intending to similarly appease the bigots by failing to oppose the Tories new racist Immigration Bill. It was only because the party rank and file already organising and disgruntled at Corbyn's continual attempt to push through his reactionary Brexit agenda, rose up in a shit storm of protect on social media, forcing the leadership into a chaotic and incompetent U-Turn.

If you want troops to follow you, you should start by providing clear and determined leadership, not acting like the Grand Old Duke of York. If a Brexit crash out occurs the Tories will take the main blame, as letwin said, but not very far behind will come Corbyn, and his advisors that facilitated that catastrophe. The best hope of building a left-wing Labour Party to occur in years will have been wasted in the pursuit of the reactionary nationalist agenda of Corbyn and his Stalinist mentors in the CPB.

Anonymous said...

Yes of course Boffy, the Cooper amendment falling short is all the fault of the Labour leadership. Nothing to do with all those Tory MPs - including people willing to resign from the front bench to back it, we were told - who backed out of voting for it at the eleventh hour.

Even now, the Conservative party is allowed to play politics on "easy mode". Not just by the MSM, but also people like you.

Speedy said...

I don't know anything about the deep politics but it does seem likely that Corbyn et al will receive a dishonourable mention by historians.

However, I would have thought from a sociological perspective this has all been a long time coming:

- the fundamental weakness of the British ruling class expressed by Cameron, Johnson and Rees-Mogg
- the fundamental flaw in the loyal bourgeois class expressed to perfection by Theresa May and her slavish efforts to appease her "betters"
- the self-defeating tendency of the "Whig" bourgeois class that chose Corbyn without reflecting that he might not share their rather fluffy, pro-Capitalist views on continued membership of the EU
- the abiding ignorance of an ill-educated latent working class fed on a diet of patriotism

The thing is - this could be a snapshot of the UK any time over the past 200 years. What is interesting is that it has never changed, despite "democracy" "socialism" "Thatcherism" and the loss of Empire. It is remarkable, in its own way, and what is interesting is how it has come to a head in this "perfect storm" of long-standing structural flaws and chance circumstances (eg social media). It was only a matter of time, I suppose.

Jason said...

"If you want troops to follow you, you should start by providing clear and determined leadership, not acting like the Grand Old Duke of York."

Politics is more complex than nursery rhymes suggest.

Boffy said...


I wan't referring to the nursery rhyme, but to the actual military tactics of the Duke of York, well discussed by military historians and tacticians, and which gave rise to the rhyme.

I'd suggest that you study the military strategy and the critique of it, then you might be able to comment with greater authority in future.

GW said...

From an Irish point of view it's good to see that at least some British Labour Party supporters find the betrayal of Labour MPs over the passing of the Brady amendment a disgrace.

Deselect them ASAP.

Jim Denham said...

LabourList claims that during the talks with May, Corbyn broadly agreed with her (ie and the ERG and the DUP) on the backstop. If that's true it's an absolute disgrace as well as being plainly in breach of Labour party policy.

Ken said...

Given that May is not stupid- really- maybe she is tap dancing to use up then time until parliament is faced with the original deal, Plan A, rejected by parliament, but with no alternative or No Deal, oops, maybe her original deal Plan A, is passed by default. Genius.

Jason said...

Bit like a Necker Cube your comments, clearly. I took the reference to be to the nursery rhyme, and given what surrounded it, with some justification.

asquith said...

It isn't just senility that's Skinner's problem. If you read Alan Clark's Diary for 10 April 1975, that odious man has a quite chummy interaction with Brexit-loving Skinner and they both agree that right-wing nationalism and socialist utopianism have far more in common with each other than anything else.

As always, the Bennites join forces with the far-right against anything that threatens their worst nightmare of actually improving the lot of real people in the real world, a thing that the far-left will fight tooth and nail to prevent as their socialist utopia is more important than our livelihoods.

Anonymous said...

Leaks abound on the prospect of a no deal, most of these leaks emanating from the government itself! From stockpiles of medicines, piles of waste in the street (hope the smell doesn’t put off the homeless population!) to food shortages and mass exodus of businesses. Sounds like the sort of thing that could bring class antagonisms to the fore!

And we are supposed to believe that the government will happily allow the no deal to pass and would stand on this apocalyptic platform in a general election! I know the masses have been co-opted by the ruling classes but surely it isn’t that desperate!

I doubt Theresa May could not survive a no deal, she has survived everything else, quite predictably, but no deal would have to be managed by someone else I think.

The thing is for all the talk of the unwillingness of the EU to ‘compromise’ or make any ‘concessions’ the fact is that it is likely the EU will find a way to get a deal accepted and the most likely result is some sort of deal that avoids hard brexit in which Theresa May can continue her glorious reign! But given the disastrous predictions of no deal, who would want to deal with that mess!

Incidentally please can all genuine socialists share this essential analysis as far as possible.


We must do everything to stop the systematic poisoning of proletariat culture and the deliberate degeneration of proletarian morality by the ruling class, it lackeys in the media and its chauvinists on the left (such as Boffy and Denham).

While ever the working classes swallow the lies and hypocrisy of the ruling class, while ever they sit idly by as the ruling class savages brutalise the world, then everything else is beside the point.

Solidarity with the producer classes in Venezuela! Down with the imperialist puppet Guaido