Brexit Bulletin: Parliament and the country hopelessly divided
There have been two-event of stand-out importance this, both of which highlight the division that exists in parliament and the country, I will deal with the former first:
“Confusion in her eyes that says it all. She’s lost control.” 1
Firstly, senior Conservatives have signalled they are not prepared to support a no-deal Brexit as they inflicted a defeat on the government in Parliament.
MPs backed an amendment to the Finance Bill, which would limit the scope for tax changes following a no deal unless authorised by MPs, by 303 to 296 votes.
Twenty Tories rebelled and, while its practical effect will be limited, Labour said it was an “important step”.
This was followed by the Speaker of the House of Commons (“the Speaker”), John Bercow, agreeing to allow a vote on an amendment to a government motion tabled by Brexit rebel Dominic Grieve.
The Speaker ignored the advice of his own clerks, May’s chief whip and the leader of the House of Commons and insisting the amendment could be voted on, saying he had made an “honest judgement” in the interests of MPs.
The vote was ultimately lost by the government, meaning ministers will have to come up with revised plans within 3-days, rather than the 3-weeks previously agreed in law, if the Leaders deal is rejected by MPs next week.
‘ministers will have to come up with revised plans within 3-days, rather than the 3-weeks previously agreed in law’
Ministers argued that the business motion, tabled by the government, was not amendable and said the Speaker was breaking with long-standing precedent in saying it was.
Critics of the Commons Speaker say he broke with precedent and ignored the advice of officials when he approved a vote on the PM’s “Plan B” response, which ministers lost by 11 votes.
The amendment gives the UK prime minister a hard deadline, and underlines rebel backbenchers’ determination to use every tactic at their disposal to bind her hands. One pro-EU Tory said of Bercow: “He was brilliant today, utterly brilliant.”
There are several things to note here, firstly, it should be obvious to everybody now, including the Leader, that she cannot command a majority for her deal in parliament.
Given that we are meant to leave the EU in less than 80-days there should be a Plan B in the making, therefore 3-days isn’t unreasonable. What is more significant, is that MPs seem determined to take back control from the executive to ensure some sort of orderly conclusion to this Shakespearian comedy.
I believe this should be welcomed, if the Leader cannot command the necessary support, we must expect MPs to step-in, is that what they are there for? Of course, this still leaves us in no-man’s land, all options from staying in the EU to a hard Brexit remain possible, whichever option prevails their seems to be an insurmountable division in the country.
‘MPs seem determined to take back control from the executive to ensure some sort of orderly conclusion to this Shakespearian comedy’
It is this division that is being fuelled by extremists; there are good and bad people on both sides of this argument, as is always the case it is the few that ruin it for the majority.
What we must collectively ensure is that the few aren’t allowed to insidiously creep into power or positions of influence by using the politics of “Hate”. If anyone doubts that can happen, look at the 1930s, look at the rise of far-right politics in other European counties.
“Evil men with racist views, Spreadin’ all across the land” 2
This isn’t hyperbole this week’s disgraceful attacks on Anna Soubry, a Tory remainer, who was called a “Nazi” and a liar” by a mob targeting her during an interview, highlight the issue.
Previously, she had been called a “disgrace to the country” and told “she was on the side of Adolf Hitler” for backing a second referendum.
Some prominent Brexit supporters have suggested that Ms Soubry is getting what she deserves because the has defied the “will of the people”, the cry of fascists against democrats down the ages.
Let us deal with the individual comments:
- “a disgrace to the country2; all she is doing is standing up for her beliefs and insisting on holding the government to account, isnt that what we want from our MPs?
- “liar”; there is no doubt that one-side was economical with the truth and embellished the facts during the referendum but that was the leave campaign, as highlighted in 7th November article:
This leaves the two worst allegations; “Nazi” and “Adolf Hitler”. I must admit struggling to even understand how anyone could be so stupid as to even think this.
Hitler and his Nazi’s were racists in the very worst definition of the word, who inflicted appalling suffering on untold millions of people; not only are the allegations filth they are stupid and incorrect and discredit the leaver campaign.
However, this set me thinking, what did motivate voters to tick the leave box?
A survey by the British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey published in June 2017 shows that Brexit was the result of widespread anti-immigration sentiment, specifically widespread concern over the numbers of people coming to the UK – millions of whom have done so under the EU’s freedom of movement rules in recent years.
‘73% of those who are worried about immigration voted Leave’
The research was collated by the National Centre for Social Research through a survey of nearly 3,000 British people.
Specifically, 73% of those who are worried about immigration voted Leave. It also found that the longer any given voter felt EU migrants should have lived in the UK before qualifying for welfare benefits, the more likely they were to vote to leave the EU.
Full details can be found at:
Quite disturbingly immigration and all the issues associated with it are now referred to as “taking control of our borders”, this obfuscates the truth, and is on spin too many.
Immigration, racism, take back control, however you wish to dress it up, is a very emotive subject. Undoubtedly, many leave voters aren’t racist, what they must avoid is being used by the few for their own ends.
What people should consider is why they are so frightened of immigration and feel the need to “take control of our borders”?
One cry is “they come over here and take our jobs”, they don’t; the country has record low unemployment. It is a well know fact that migrants keep London running, often doing the jobs that Brits feel are beneath them.
‘In my opinion, the discontent stems from the 2008 financial crisis’
In my opinion, the discontent stems from the 2008 financial crisis, whilst central banks reacted quickly and positively, only the US did it properly.
They eschewed austerity, and this was reflected by the speed and depth of their recovery. Both the UK and much of Europe took the route of austerity leading to a prolonged and stealthy recession.
As a result, people are worse off. In the UK, the TUC said in its annual report on the nation’s finances that the amounts owed by British households rose to a combined £428bn in the third quarter of 2018.
Each household owed £886 more than it did 12 months previously, it said. The figures do not include outstanding mortgage debts but do include student loans.
Not only do we owe more, the average real wage is lower now than it was ten years ago. Following the recession in 2008, average wages fell almost consistently in real terms until mid-2014. From 2014 to 2016, inflation was low, and wages increased, though they’re still not back to their pre-recession levels. Now, inflation has caught up again, and real wages are leveling off.
If we doubt the impact of this, look at the bloodbath on the high street, even Christmas couldn’t stem the tide, this is all down to Amazon and the internet.
‘Lower incomes and rising debt have fuelled people’s discontent’
Lower incomes and rising debt have fuelled people’s discontent. Situations like this are ripe for nationalist politicians to exploit, they give people scapegoats, someone to blame, this isn’t unique to Britain, it is happening elsewhere in Europe
We must avoid slipping back to the bad old days, if we are to take back control of our borders we need to ensure that those racist days of the 1970s, when TV programs such as “Till Death Us Do Part” and “Love Thy Neighbour” are consigned to history.
The final word goes to the poet laureate of New York City…
“You’re going to reap just what you sow” 3
A treat for lyric spotters today with three to wrestle with; 1 we start by unashamedly revisiting the fabulous Joy Division, because certainly ‘She’s Lost Control Again’.
2 Then we have something that is possibly a little bit more challenging to identify, but worth that trip down memory lane as Heaven 17 reminds us that (We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang. Well worth revisiting, but this 2010 version is a reminder that even music icons lose their barnets!
3 Lou Reed closes out the article by reminding us what we may be missing – a ‘Perfect Day‘
You’ve been a great audience.
Philip is a great believer in meritocracy, and in the belief that if you want something enough you can make it happen. These beliefs were formed in his formative years, of the late 1970s and 80s
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