Brexit Weekly: 5 Things

I don’t care if Monday’s Blue

It’s been a long week for our long-suffering Prime Minister Theresa May. It feels like months ago but it was only on Monday that, recognising the existing Brexit deal would not win the backing of the House of Commons, she pulled Tuesday’s vote and stood up to face the derision of an unsurprisingly rambunctious chamber. The sticking point remains the Northern Ireland border and, to scepticism across the House, the PM announced that she was returning to the EU to seek ‘reassurances’ on regarding the extent and longevity of the backstop.

Tuesday’s grey…

The development set the wheels of the European Research Group (ERG) turning furiously with Jacob Rees-Mogg stepping up to the plate as coup-maker in chief to orchestrate a vote of no confidence in our PM. Marina Hyde’s excellent summation draws upon cultural references as diverse as Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and Con Air to describe the machinations of the Brexit-loving parliamentary group and their role in this week’s events. The extent of internal conflict within the Conservative party was demonstrated by this televised contretemps between deputy party chair James Cleverly and Brexiteer Andrew Bridgen, a masterclass of British awkwardness.

… And Wednesday too

But all was not lost. A number of Conservatives MPs flooded forward to offer public statements of support for their leader and, by the time they filed into the 1922 committee room on Wednesday evening, it was apparent that May would survive the vote. If only just. The Prime Minister was forced to make a deal with the parliamentary party that she would stand down before the next election. Just quite who this will benefit is unclear as whoever is to take on the mantel will need to sort out the ramifications of a compromise or a no-deal, with little good will left on either side. And besides, it is difficult to see Conservative MPs coalescing around anyone whilst dividing lines within the party remain so deep.

Thursday I don’t care about you

On the back of this pyrrhic victory, May was forced to return to Brussels where her attempts to bargain with Juncker and European Commission colleagues ended in failure and an accusation of nebulousness. She was quick to confront the European Commission president in a whispered but gutsy exchange which was captured and shared across the entire world; deciphered with the help of Channel Five’s lip-reading experts.

It’s Friday I’m in love!

And so onto Friday when British politics is coming to terms with an embarrassingly public display of indignity. I’m afraid to say that, as we approach the weekend, political love is in short supply in Westminster. Indeed, we end this tumultuous week with more questions than answers: how long can the Tories hang on to the DUP? Will Labour ever step in for a challenge? Are we about to witness the moment of The People’s Vote? Will Father Christmas leave another Brexit deal under the Number 10 Christmas tree?

As the sands of negotiation drain with increasing haste through the hour glass of Article 50, Monday is sure to bring another week of political drama. Stay tuned with us at Whitehouse to find out what happens next.