This isn’t a coup. We should still be concerned and angry.

Boris Johnson set off a political earthquake when he asked the Queen to prorogue parliament on the 28th August. There have been huge protests in London. Opposition MPs are demanding meetings with the Queen. The Speaker has issued a statement calling Johnson’s decision a “a constitutional outrage.” Many people will be cheering Boris Johnson on. Others will be frightened and scared at what lies ahead. It’s the reason why many are referring to the current situation as a coup. When …

Read more…

The DUP threaten to pull the plug on May’s careful plan

We may have a timetable up to Hallowe’en but for what? Apart from taking an Easter break from today to 23 April, MPs were only a little wiser after Theresa May’s long statement. The talks between the two front benches are “ serious “ but there is no meeting of minds on how to close the narrow gap between a customs arrangement  (Conservative) and full  membership of the customs union (Labour).  There’s slightly better news on process. May and Corbyn …

Read more…

Tory and Labour splits widen as Parliament gropes its way painfully towards a soft Brexit. Guess who might be about to hop on board?

  A  Twitter blizzard,  floods of Live updates  and lurid headlines convey the pace and drama of events. Tory Brexiteer fury as May is seen as recruiting Corbyn to pass a soft Brexit. A secret ballot on Theresa May’s leadership *will not* be granted by 1922 committee  of all Tory backbenchers  – the feeling is it will only add to instability. They can’t hold a formal process because December’s vote gives May a one year grace period.  Asked one rhetorically: …

Read more…

Brexit choices narrow at peak crisis approaches, for the EU and Ireland too

As a riven cabinet meets in peak crisis mode, we might tentatively assume that Theresa May would prefer continuity to smash, such as a general election. For good reason , as  voting guru  Prof John Curtice reveals: Holding a general election could simply make Britain’s Brexit impasse even more difficult to resolve. That is the clear implication of where the parties currently stand in the polls. According to a projection based on the average of each company’s most recent poll, the …

Read more…

My dream outcome. Ken Clarke, the sanest and oldest, to head up a cross party coalition

 I could never have guessed it but the bums really did squeak  in the Commons yesterday. The failure so far of the indicative vote process was a narrow squeak, but even so, it   revealed a genteel amateurishness about the whole process. Clearly many of them failed to heed Ken Clarke’s s advice and vote right down the list. With so little experience of brokering deals and still inured to their party tram lines, they failed to caucus like  Americans or …

Read more…

Squeaky bum time for Brexit, as the roof closes in on Theresa

Image by permission of Parliament “Anything can happen in the next 12, 11, 10 days” This is the pretty safe prediction of the Institute for Government, the think tank of former civil servants and bright young para-politicians who hug the inside track closer than most. One of the institute’s chiefs Jill Rutter would be earning a fortune if she’d been paid a decent fee for all her media appearances in recent days and weeks. Back on the IfG website Jill …

Read more…

This wasn’t what was supposed to happen on Brexit Day

True to form, the gambit to separate out withdrawal terms  from the rest of the package has failed in advance.  For the DUP this wheeze may be even less attractive than the May deal as it doesn’t even include the legal assurances  they rejected  (courtesy Sam McBride of the Newslettter for the thought). Yet again the figures don’t add up for the Daily Telegraph and the entire media. On Thursday night Mrs May still needed to persuade 52 Tory rebels …

Read more…

Last night’s indicative votes show how the impasse in the Commons could be broken

The House of Commons voted last night on eight proposals that were intended to indicate what the House might be prepared to support to break the deadlock on the departure of the UK from the European Union. None of the proposals were approved by MPs. The narrowest defeat was for Kenneth Clarke’s proposals for the UK to leave the EU and remain a member of the customs union which lost by eight votes, whilst Marcus Fysh’s proposals for “Contingent preferential …

Read more…

And now the fate of the entire country could be placed in the hands of Sammy &Co

I may have forecast the isolation of the DUP too quickly. First Boris – sidling backwards into it supporting Mrs May’s deal.  And now  Jacob Rees Mogg has had his Damascus moment and appears to have placed the fate of Theresa May’s deal in the DUP’s hands. But is there less to this than meets the eye? If anything the DUP’s position has hardened. It has dawned on them that the  likely  final settlement will take on the shape of …

Read more…

My Deal or No Deal no longer. Flying blind to Brexit with a choice of deals. Theresa’s desperate plan for survival

Call it a lottery, call it chaos. Call it parliamentary democracy adapting to an unprecedented situation. From Laura Kuennesberg Theresa May has told MPs that a third vote on her Brexit deal may not take place next week “if it appears there is not sufficient support“.  In a letter to all MPs, that was one of four “clear choices” she outlined, along with revoking Article 50 which she says would “betray the result of the referendum”, leaving with no deal, …

Read more…

A house divided against itself – Brexit factions in Westminster

It has become apparent that Westminster is deadlocked with regards how to proceed with the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union. Theresa May had intended to receive “clarification” from the European Union on the proposed Withdrawal Agreement, but the EU have made it clear that no re-negotiation will be forthcoming. Assuming nothing dramatic happens between now and the vote, it is virtually certain that the government will face a heavy defeat. To illustrate the difficulty faced in getting parliament …

Read more…

“This is the “Canada-plus” option the EU at one point said it would never agree to…”

The Irish Times today carries the view of, the always worth reading, FT columnist Wolfgang Münchau on the withdrawal agreement between the UK and EU. First he makes a quick point on the opposition on both sides of the House of Commons… When British cabinet ministers resigned hours after the publication of the withdrawal agreement between the UK and EU, they could not conceivably have read it, let alone digested its finer points. Many of the MPs who denounced the …

Read more…

On Charlie Kennedy

There’s lots of talk about Charlie Kennedy’s talents and his ‘flaws’, often a euphemistic way of talking about his alcoholism. Alistair Campbell has blogged movingly and directly about their shared illness. It was never exactly a secret. I remember canvassing a man in the 2004 European election campaign, a rather grand chap in a very wealthy street just north of Kensington Gardens. “Oh, the Liberals”, he sneered, “Couldn’t possibly vote for a party led by an alcoholic.” “I take it …

Read more…

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

As with the Red Queen so too, it would seem, with Sinn Féin – who published their 2015 Westminster Election Manifesto today. The BBC report notes Deputy leader Martin McGuinness said that he does not believe any of the main parties in Northern Ireland will play a role in the formation of the next government and that any claims to the contrary were “misleading”. Well, Sinn Féin will not play any role.  But other Northern Ireland parties might, depending on …

Read more…

“there was a ‘culture’ in the Northern Ireland Office not to prosecute Republicans…”

In appearing on the first day, Norman Baxter has set a fairly direct tone for the Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee inquiry into the administrative scheme for OTRs (see also), by suggesting that it was the Northern Ireland Office which was indulging in politics over Republican suspects rather than the PSNI: He then claimed pressure had also been exerted from Downing Street in regard to the 2007 arrests of Gerry McGeough and Vincent McAnespie in relation to the attempted murder …

Read more…

NI Affairs Committee: “We understand the sensitivities of this issue for some members of the Executive…”

As the BBC reports, the UK House of Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee has published their report on the Implementation of the Armed Forces Covenant in Northern Ireland.  Among the recommendations noted by the BBC The committee chair, MP Laurence Robertson, said the report highlighted the need for those who serve the country not being disadvantaged because of that. He said while the special political and legal situation in Northern Ireland made the situation potentially contentious, that should not mean …

Read more…

Commons Debate on Margaret Thatcher: Glenda Jackson goes and spoils the party by, erm, having a debate….

I don’t know whose idea it was to have a debate on Margaret Thatcher in the House of Commons. Glenda Jackson (no, I didn’t know she was still there, no idea John Whittingdale was still there either) could not stand the restraining convention of polite respect. She exaggerates, of course, she’s a politician after all. Care in the community was, for instance, poorly thought out and ill-managed, but did eventually lead to a civilised move a way from life time …

Read more…

“This vote now draws a line under this issue…”

Or not, as the case may be.  ANYhoo…  A Conservative Party backed proposal to redraw UK parliamentary constituency boundaries has been defeated in the House of Commons.  As the BBC reports MPs voted by 334 to 292 to accept changes made by peers, meaning the planned constituency shake-up will be postponed until 2018 at the earliest. It was the first time Lib Dem ministers have voted against their Conservative coalition colleagues in the Commons. The two parties have been in …

Read more…

Martin McGuinness applies to become paid officer of the Crown…

Or as the BBC faithfully report Martin McGuinness has confirmed that he has formally resigned as the MP for Mid-Ulster. “I have served formal notice of my resignation from the position of MP for Mid-Ulster with immediate effect. This is in line with my party’s commitment to end double jobbing,” he said. [Just in time, eh? – Ed]  Sadly, he’ll have to wait until he’s actually disqualified from holding his seat.  Just like his party leader was… And as we …

Read more…

NI Attorney General: “Citizens are entitled to have confidence in the administration of justice”

Conveniently, neither the Northern Ireland First or deputy First Ministers, nor either of their juniors, were available to the NI Assembly on Monday to answer Jim Allister’s pointed question on their continued confidence, or otherwise, in the “statutorily independent” NI Attorney General, John Larkin.  [As open and transparent as possible! – Ed]  There’s been no such reticence from others.  The NI Finance Minister, the DUP’s Sammy Wilson,  has criticised the cost of the Attorney General’s contempt of court proceedings against the former Secretary of …

Read more…