Extraordinary political experiment may reveal what is plausible | Politics News


The future of the country hinges on today’s extraordinary experiment in the way our democracy functions.

Handing over control of Commons Business for five hours or so could just start to crystallise the contours of compromise.

The PM’s strategy of bludgeoning MPs, as the leader of a minority government, into adopting her take on Brexit and her red lines has clearly failed.

And already there are signs that MPs are trying to bend their own favourite Brexit options. Vote Leave campaigners are backing the Norway option.

Labour MPs that want a referendum may nonetheless signal their backing to a customs union solution.

Labour appear on the cusp of yet again a glacial move in the Remainish direction.

At a meeting of the shadow Cabinet Brexit subcommittee yesterday they agreed to back the amended “Kyle-Wilson” compromise – which now seeks to attach a “confirmatory public vote” to “any” deal passed in this parliament.

So that is it – the Opposition looks set to now guarantee to back a referendum if any Brexit deal from Mrs May’s to Labour, Canada, or Norway Plus, gets through the Commons.

The Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry told me: “The interesting thing about Kyle-Wilson is that it says in principle under this government, under Theresa May anything that comes back would need to be subject to the lock of a public vote, and that I think that’s going to be quite popular.”

Number 10 have not put in the May deal for part of this process, clearly trying to rise above it, but also fearful of a fatal blow being applied to it in the ballot process.

But Number 10 is also yet to say if the whip will apply to the votes as demanded by some cabinet ministers this week.

Indeed the whips themselves are rebelling. At one of this week’s cabinet meetings whipping arrangements for the vote on the legal instrument extending the Brexit date in UK law, also voted on tomorrow, was hotly debated.

Sky sources say that “sensitive arrangements” have been made for whips who cannot vote for the extension to allow them to somehow skip the vote. Some cabinet ministers are amazed at the concession.

The bigger point of course is whether a strong move towards an indication of a soft Brexit majority could well push the Tory Brexiter holdouts to back the PM’s deal.

Jacob Rees-Mogg reluctantly backs the deal as better than no Brexit in a newspaper article today. Boris Johnson edged closer but still did not back the deal. A meeting of the 1922 committee could be the missing link for the PM, with a promise to stand down imminently.

Except the maths is still difficult. European Research Group holdouts pin their hopes on French President Emmanuel Macron vetoing an extension in April and delivering no deal.

And if the Conservative Party is to pass this deal on the basis of May’s assurances that she will be replaced by a different hard Brexiter Tory leader, then what is the incentive for Labour backers to come over?

Ultimately the parliamentary numbers are what they are, and what they have been since June 2017.

Even if a deal gets through, there needs to be sufficient support to then pass difficult legislation before 22 May. Today the Commons may just reveal what is even plausible.



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