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.
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”.’