Part 2. Brexit. After The Vote… The Aftermath…
By Tatton Spiller of SIMPLE POLITICS…
If the vote is delayed – all this Brexit chat carries over until January. It’s all a bit of an anticlimax.
If the vote is won – Brexit is *on*. As soon as next week, Parliament start passing the necessary legislation. Theresa May starts focusing on domestic bits and bobs. We’re leaving on 29th March 2019. After that, I’d expect a Conservative leadership challenge, and a new leader to take us through transition and into the 2022 General Election. That said, if she’s managed to get this vote through, she’s a blooming miracle worker and may find a way to survive as PM.
If the vote is lost – this is where things get a bit less certain. Nobody really knows what will happen. The PM is refusing to discuss it because she is ‘focused on winning’. Here are some things that may or may not happen…
A no-confidence vote from Labour – This is almost certain to happen the next day if the vote fails. But, it almost certainly won’t pass. The DUP have said that they would support the government if May goes back to the EU to try to renegotiate the backstop. So the vote happens but is narrowly defeated. There will be no General Election.
A leadership challenge from the Conservatives – almost certainly the 48 letters would now emerge. She’s lost the biggest vote of her career. She’s spent her entire leadership time building to this. The knives will be out. There would then be a vote of confidence within the party. She survives or she doesn’t. If she does, there can be no more challenges for a year. If she doesn’t, we could have a new Prime Minister in 3 weeks or so.
A return to Brussels to make some (cosmetic) changes – regardless of confidence votes in the House or in the party, May will go back to the EU and try to get some concessions. Right now the EU are saying there are none to be had. It is widely expected they’ll change their minds once the vote falls. The PM will be hoping to get enough from the EU to go back to MPs in January and win that vote.
So far, so good. I’d expect all three of those things to happen in the event of a failed vote. There are more things that could happen – with varying degrees of likelihood.
A second referendum – OK, by this stage, Labour have failed in their attempt to get a General Election. The policy is, in that eventuality, they will campaign for a second referendum. They would join an array of opposition parties in that policy, as well as a few Conservative MPs. That’s quite a lot of pressure on the PM. The issue is that Theresa May has been very, very clear that she thinks a second vote is completely off the cards. It might be that the only way this happens is if there has been a change of leadership. That said, she’s quite keen on hanging on, our current PM. Could we see her make a huge U-turn? It’s not completely out the question.
Norway plus – This is possibly the most popular option in the Commons. It accepts the Withdrawal Agreement as it stands, but re-writes the Political Declaration (which is only a guideline anyway). The plan would be that our future relationship would be like Norway, plus a bit. Norway is members of EFTA which is part of the single market – including freedom of movement, but with an emergency brake if ‘difficulties’ arise. The plus would be some form of a customs union to ensure the Irish border works properly. We leave the common agricultural policy and the common fisheries policy. This could be done with Theresa May still at the helm. If the EU27 are up for it, we could see a vote on this in late January, and then, if it passes, Brexit is back *on* and we leave on 29th March 2019.
The Big ‘Tatton’s best guess’ as to what on earth will happen.
I’ve got this nagging feeling that she wins the vote. I think she’s tenacious and driven and prepared to do all kinds of backroom deals. Literally no pundits seem to agree with me, so I’m not going to make that my big guess. Sure, I’m a sheep and a coward. But sometimes you need to listen to your elders and betters, right?
So. Here we go: I think she loses. I think there is a leadership challenge. I think she’s replaced v quickly with someone (possibly an interim to get us through Brexit) who goes back and renegotiates. Possibly by some kind of backstop adjustment. More likely a Norway Plus model. With cross-party support, that vote (maybe on January 23rd). We head to 29th March. Leave and start transition. Full Conservative leadership election takes place.
Sunday – If you love this stuff and find the creation of history fascinating and engaging, watch Marr (BBC One, 10am) and Ridge (Sky News 9am). If you find it irritating, repetitive and futile, maybe give them a skip.
There will be no prime time debate in the evening. The BBC & ITV have pulled out. ITV, though, have The Chase: Celebrity Specials and Catchphrase Celebrity Specials in the slot that had been mentioned. So, you’ll get well-known faces being challenged with some tricky questions, but not those faces or those questions.
Monday – ‘Twas the night before the meaningful vote, when all through the House
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
Except that, of course, there will be much stirring. MPs will be enjoying the fourth day of Brexit vote chat. The first three were fairly unremarkable. Lots of predictable stuff. Apparently, Theresa May likes the deal and Corbyn doesn’t. That kind of thing.
Tuesday – Here it is. Tuesday 11th December. The meaningful vote. First up will be the day’s debate and the selection of 6 amendments to be voted on before the big one. Voting will take place in the early evening. Summing up will happen just before. It’ll be worth following from 5ish.
Tune in if you can. Follow or catch up with us if you can’t. This stuff matters.
Wednesday – I mean, who knows what’s happening? PMQs, presumably. Maybe a vote of confidence in the government? Maybe 48 letters emerge? Maybe, just maybe, a triumphant Theresa May makes a statement. Official business today is just ‘Consideration of Lords amendments’. Which means ‘we’re keeping this day open for whatever needs to happen’.
Thursday– Gosh. I don’t know. The end of days? Business as usual? Something in between?
Theresa May has scheduled a general debate about using public health to reduce youth violence, so it’s clear that she wants tp win the vote and then get back to the domestic agenda. Sometimes, though, you don’t always get what you want.
Friday – No Parliament. Well, that’s not true. Over in the Lords, the Archbishop of Canterbury has a debate about linking British foreign, defence and international development policy. It’s a pretty interesting topic, to be fair. But. By this stage next week, I’m not expecting anyone to care.