Matt Frei is Leading Britain's Conversation.
8 December 2016, 14:18
So 461 MPs voted last night to trigger Brexit by the end of March, and 89 against. Game over? Not necessarily.
Because actually this vote was a fudge, as the Commons gave the government the right to trigger Brexit, but demanded the details of the government’s strategy be published.
A bit like requiring a Premiership manager before a vital game, to tell us all on Wednesday his detailed tactics for Sunday’s match.
The government is finding it difficult enough to nerve itself to grapple with Brussels. Now they have to go through it all with Parliament first, thereby giving the wretched Juncker and his Junckersaurs in Brussels all the advanced knowledge required to make it even harder to get the deal we want.
One benefit of last night may be the derailing of that Supreme Court case, because, why put in a parliamentary process, when the government has already established one.
I feel sorry for the judges actually. Slagged off by some of the popular press for doing nothing more than standing up for the Sovereignty of Parliament. It’s the government that are in the wrong because they want to use the Royal Prerogative thereby side-lining Parliament, as if Charles I was alive and well and living at No10.
Pre-Brexit parliamentary debates will also be especially difficult for the government in the House of Lords, where they don’t have a majority.
The Lords shouldn’t interfere with the popular will, but that won’t stop them, especially the more than 100 Lib Dem Peers spoiling for a fight.
There’s only one way that that can be stopped, and that is of course an early election.
Mrs May, as I’ve advised before, but it bears repeating, should hold an election in early March, win it as she undoubtedly would, and then turn her attention to Parliament, and later Brussels at the end of March.
The Junckersaurs will take comfort from our politicians seeming to be at sixes and sevens over all this. The only way for her to establish that she rules the roost is to get a fresh mandate.
Why am I so certain she would get one? Because Labour is all over the place, (23 Labour MP’s voted against Corbyn’s line, 149 supported him, and dozens more abstained). Voting to put this Rag Tag and Bobtail bunch into government would be suicidal.
As for the Lib Dems, barely half of them – five – turned up to vote against last night’s motion.
They’re just not serious. And after all that huffing and puffing over the Richmond Park by-election, what does it actually amount to?
They scraped in by 2,000 votes in a seat where for most of the last forty years, they have had the MP and controlled the council. Some triumph.
Learned commentators perhaps not too familiar with South West London have also missed a major point.
A lot of Tories put clothes pegs on their noses, and voted Lib Dem to get rid of Goldsmith. They were simply fed up with his selfish, shallow gadfly behaviour, and others found it impossible to forgive him for what ended up as a disgraceful Mayoral campaign.
They wanted rid of him. Mystic Mellor confidently predicts, if Mrs May actually does go for a spring election, the Tories with a different candidate will win back the seat.