The British Sense of Meaningful

Watching May’s dillapidated government stagger on may be an entertaining spectacle but it’s also a bizarre one.

David Davis has yesterday promised to introduce legislation to parliament that will allow MPs to vote on the final Brexit deal. The Brexit secretary announced the move in the Commons after it became clear that the government could face defeat on an amendment laid down by the former attorney general Dominic Grieve that calls for a meaningful vote.

But in a wonderfully British twist David Davis stated: “It’s a meaningful vote but it’s not meaningful in the sense that you can reverse the whole decision.”

Ah, that kind of meaningful.

Welcome to Wonderland.

We’re told that “MPs in the House of Commons audibly gasped” – though not sure if this is because they were so surprised to be given  say or so shocked by the disdain they were being treated.

“Taking back control” is looking a lot like “draining the swamp.”

The irony that parliamentary sovereignty – we’re told LEAVE’s main aim – has been completely sidelined – won’t trouble the cabal as they cling desperately to power.

Christopher Hope, the Chief Political Correspondent for the Telegraph tweeted:

“BREAKING Britain will leave the EU without a deal if MPs vote down final deal, David Davis said. MPs in the House of Commons audibly gasped.”

It’s brinksmanship but only of the Blazzing Saddles variety…


David Allen Green, the Law and policy commentary at @FT, who blogs at @jackofkent unpacks the contradictions of this.

He argues

1) The UK will leave the EU on 29 March 2019 by automatic operation of law.

2) There are only really three possible exceptions to the UK leaving the EU on 29 March 2019. None of which are currently likely. First: the UK and EU can agree an extension. UK stays a full member oof EU until an agreed date after March 2019. Second: an alternative date can be agreed as part of an overall exit deal. This, however, requires the deal to be in place before March 2019. Third: Article 50 is revoked (or somehow paused). This is (probably) legally possible as long as UK is acting in good faith (rather than as a negotiation ploy to re-start clock). He concludes:

“Now look at three options – and the one thing they have in common. All three are outside the direct control of the UK parliament. Parliament cannot now vote directly to keep us in EU. Too late: Article 50 has been triggered. This outcome is indeed gasp-worthy. It even warrants hyperventilation. It is terrifying. But: MPs should not be surprised. This is the natural and direct consequence of voting for the A50 notification.”

Taking, Back. Control.

As this utter shambles unfolds, and we witness the inevitable destabilisation to the Union it precipitates, let us also remember the wise words of Colonel Ruth who told us back in September 2014:

“It is disingenuous to say that No means out ands that Yes means in, when actually the opposite is true. No means we stay in, we are a member of the European Union.”

The sense of bewilderment and drift is not confined to opposition voices, Labour, Green or SNP politicians. Last night a senior Tory was quoted saying ‘I don’t understand what they are doing – the only meaningful vote would be a vote of no confidence in the government”.’

Comments (13)

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  1. George Gunn says:

    The Tories want a “no deal” exit. That is what setting the date was all about. The next Scottish election should be seen as a referendum on independence.

    1. Alf Baird says:

      You are right George, all that is needed now is a simple straightforward promise from the SNP at any national election, and for them to contest that election on one issue and one issue alone, withdrawal from the UK political ‘union’ charade, i.e. independence. That will enable Scotland’s people to make hopefully their final judgement on the clueless Westminster incompetents.

  2. Crubag says:

    Isn’t jackofkent making the UK government’s point? Now that Article 50 is in motion there are two parties to this, and the other party, the 27 member states and their central institutions, would have to unanimously agree to any delay or deviation. Just the UK parliament voting down the agreement wouldn’t pause anything.

  3. Welsh Sion says:

    Today, Tuesday, in the House of Commons – Applies to both our nations.

    From the Leader of Plaid Cymru @ Westminster.

    Dear Friend,

    Brexit: We need your help


    Today, Tuesday, the British Government will bring the EU (Withdrawal) Bill back to the House of Commons and try to force it through to the next stage.

    The Bill is a threat to Wales’s nationhood and, if passed, will enable the British Government to meddle in devolved fields such as agriculture, the environment and transport – areas that are devolved thanks to the two devolution referendums of 1997 and 2011.

    Not only is the British Government attempting to enable the UK Parliament to snatch back control over domestic Welsh affairs, it is attempting to give British Government Ministers the power to amend or repeal Welsh legislation as they please, without the need of even a vote in Westminster or Cardiff.

    Plaid Cymru has warned from the beginning that this Bill is being used as a vehicle for Westminster to grab power back from Wales and reinstate Westminster-rule over our country.

    On Tuesday, MPs will consider the first batch of amendments. These will include Plaid Cymru’s amendment number 79 – to make this Bill contingent on gaining the consent of the national parliaments, including our Parliament – the National Assembly.

    Our Brexit spokesperson, Hywel Williams, will lead the debate for us in Westminster and we fully intend on forcing the House of Commons to vote on it.


    Show your support for Plaid Cymru’s #GiveWalesASay amendment 79 to the EU Withdrawal Bill, and pressure your MP to support it too.

    Contact your MP, Tweet them, Facebook them and spread the message as far as you can on social media using the hashtag #GiveWalesASay.

    Example Tweet

    “Dear [INSERT LOCAL MP’s NAME HERE] please support @Plaid_Cymru’s #GiveWalesASay amendment to the #Withdrawal Bill”

    You can also find an auto-generated Tweet here.

    Please also read and share our article on 11 things Westminster doesn’t want you to know about Brexit

    The more public pressure we can put on Labour and Tory MPs, the more likely it is that they will support us.

    The British Government is weak and this is a major opportunity to make Wales matter in Westminster.

    Thank you for your continued support.

    For Wales – Dros Gymru,

    Liz Saville Roberts
    Leader, Plaid Cymru Westminster Group

    1. Welsh Sion says:

      Dear Friend,
      RE: Brexit: We need your help
      In the next few hours, the British Government’s EU Withdrawal Bill will be debated on the floor of the House of Commons.
      As I set out in my article on Nation.Cymru, we know this is nothing less than Westminster bullying Wales. Rolling back devolution and contravening the will of the Welsh people to have laws made in our own country.
      We will be pushing our Give Wales A Say amendment.
      I will be there, leading the charge for Plaid Cymru, and for Wales. This will mean the Withdrawal Bill will require the consent of all of the UK’s parliaments, including our Parliament – the National Assembly for Wales.
      Many of you have already lobbied your MPs and posted messages of support on social media. Please help us with one final push.
      Contact your MP, Tweet them, Facebook them and spread the message as far as you can on social media using the hashtag #GiveWalesASay.
      Example Tweet
      “Dear [INSERT LOCAL MP’s NAME HERE] please support @Plaid_Cymru’s #GiveWalesASay amendment to the #WithdrawalBill”
      You can also find an auto-generated Tweet here.
      To find out who your MP is, click here.
      Please also read and share our article on 11 things Westminster doesn’t want you to know about Brexit
      History will not look kindly on Westminster if it fails to back us and disrespect Wales’s national aspirations by governing without consent.
      Thank you for your continued support.
      For Wales – Dros Gymru,

      Hywel Williams MP
      Brexit Spokesperson

  4. William Ross says:


    Just in case you missed it, Westminster voted to trigger Article 50 by a huge majority earlier this year. That means we are leaving the EU.

    Taking. Back. Control. I thought it was simple.

    85% of all voters in GE 2017 voted for parties supporting Lancaster House Brexit.

    Better Together (quite rightly) told the Scottish people that the only possible way to stay in the EU in 2014 was to vote NO. That was entirely true. They never guaranteed that the UK would not at sometime re-consider EU membership. Cameron`s Bloomberg speech was, after all, made in 2013. The SNP ( quite rightly) warned the Scottish people of the possibility of a Brexit vote if there was a NO vote.

    Why do you love Jean Claude Juncker and the EPP so much?

    1. William,
      I know that Westminster voted to trigger Article 50, that was extremely stupid.
      Scotland voted 62% to remain.
      It’s going to be a car-crash. People were duped lied to and misled.
      You’re description of the Better Together campaign is touching however, thanks.

    2. Wul says:

      I suspect, William that you are financially secure and happy to pull up the drawbridge.

      My two teenage children are however f***ed.

      Try making a life in an unregulated UK with Bojo’s chums at the helm.

      Junker et al will look like the Christmas Fairy by comparison.

  5. Graham King says:

    I find use of the ‘n-word’, however spelled, offensive. It was needless to make this point this way.
    I thought we were past that kind of language being acceptable, and here it was used in a gratuitous, throwaway manner to make a point that could have been illustrated by other means. Shame.

    That insensitivity detracts from the cogent point of the article, in my view.

    I hope that you may think better of this decision in hindsight. I realize that to meet deadlines the article may have been written in haste, which may somewhat (but not much) mitigate poor judgement. Evidence of this: typo ‘Blazzing (sic) Saddles’.

    1. John Barr says:

      Oh, give it a rest and stick to the real point here. Your fake outrage is tiresome. The clip was totally apropos.

  6. Willie says:

    Increasingly Brexit is being shown to be a car out of control driven by occupants who are ignorant of the damage being done, but blissful that their objective of taking back control is being achieved.

    And taking back control will indeed include the desire to roll back powers from devolved authorities like the Scottish Parliament.

    We just need to wait until the careering car comes to a stop and then we’ll see the entirety of the damage done.

    Shit I’m afraid happens as a hapless populace watches the grim spectacle.

  7. Willie says:

    With it just being announced that Airbus have usurped Boeing by securing a $49.5 billion order for hundreds of passenger jets.

    That will secure thousands and tens of thousands of high paid high skilled jobs and one can only grimace at the Chairman of the Airbus subsidiary in the UK warning that a Brexit out of the EU could imperil hugely part fabrication in the UK.

    But no doubt this is of no concern to our Brexiteers who think that GB will be able to take on the Americans and win.

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