The obvious is now clear to the British government. The EU are not going to fundamentally change the Withdrawal Agreement other than by flipping a few words around here and there and the Attorney General has abandoned such a negotiating position. The Agreement will go before Parliament again pretty much as it was before despite the PM’s insistence that she has obtained meaningful changes on the Irish backstop question.
What now remains to be seen is whether in a renewed fit of panic Parliament will pass the same Withdrawal Agreement which they essentially rejected back in January. There is some possibility in this occurring given the political party pressures that Project Fear 2 has been stoking up. Let us remind ourselves of the essential backdrop to this vote: the Conservative government were mortified when Leave became the majority decision in the referendum. They could not understand what had happened but nonetheless braced themselves to ensure that whatever the negotiation outcome Britain would remain as aligned - or even more aligned - with the EU having paid token lip-service to the legal mandate to actually ‘leave’ the EU. Therein lay the dilemma for Mrs May. How could she give the impression of negotiating a great deal for Britain’s exit whilst in reality ensuring that Britain stayed firmly glued into the EU project ?
With a lot of backroom brainstorming with the EU, two scenario’s emerged. The first was to create such an awful Withdrawal Agreement that it would never get through Parliamentary scrutiny and then doggedly be seen to go back to the negotiating table against all the odds to get improvements for that bunch of folk Mrs May refers to as’the British people.’ On the face of it, that looked like a determined PM trying hard to rectify the awfulness of her first attempt. But she and her cronies knew from the outset that that was not what was going on in Brussels. The second scenario was the government’s ‘resistance’ to taking a no-deal outcome off the negotiating table, again mainly lip-service to the chants that this would diminish our negotiating position. For you and I that would be a logical resistance but to the PM it was another piece of Lego clicking nicely into place with her being seen to be championing the Leave mandate by toughening her stance with the EU. Project Fear 2 ensured that MP’s were spooked enough to demand its removal so the PM shrugs and says, ‘Not my fault - I tried’. No such stance has ever taken place, and if we look from a governmental perspective (that’s one of maintaining the status quo, the orthodoxy of the establishment and the positions of those with vested interests) both scenario’s posed a win-win outcome.
If the Withdrawal Agreement is rejected and no-deal is off the table then Article 50 would almost certainly be extended. That could be stretched right up until 2022 when the next general election falls due with the government saying ‘We’re still fighting for the right deal here, folks! So vote for us and we’ll get the job done. The reality, of course, is that the job never will reach a ‘done’ position and by default Britain continues within the EU.
The alternative is that the Withdrawal Agreement, ably enhanced by Project Fear 2, will pass through Parliament, albeit by a whisker. That the Agreement is so woefully bland and open to interpretation and continuing alignment with the EU gives the government a carte blanche to maintain as much connectivity to the EU as decency will allow, albeit that on a piece of paper Britain will be out of the EU.
What is occurring now is exactly what the majority of government and Parliament wish for. Brexit Leavers are going to be betrayed by a purposeful strategy to not leave in practise. The only difference between the two outcomes is that the first one will not be perceived to have happened before 2022 whilst the second one will occur much sooner if not precisely upon 29th March. Either way, the establishment will have won.
The question now becomes: ‘What will you vote for come the next general election ?’ And the rider question to that may be something like: ‘Will my vote actually mean anything ?’
Lastly, a correction to Bristling Brocks witterings on the previous post to this one. BB referenced Mike Pence looking on at Trumpy in exasperation. It should have, of course, referenced Mike Pompeo. Apologies.