Theresa May’s win gives her the scent of bigger victory, courtesy of divided Labour

Quite a coup, to turn a defeat by 230 votes into a victory by 15 votes in a fortnight – a victory courtesy of the DUP by the way. Rather sadly, the big losers of the day were the supporters of a second referendum.   But what sort of victory? It required turning 180 degrees from insisting hers was  the only deal, to agreeing to renegotiate  the “significant and legally binding change to the withdrawal agreement” she insisted was impossible only …

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Enter the “Malthouse compromise.”

In the present fevered atmosphere, what seems like a Eureka moment inside the Westminster bubble may not survive the cold light of day. Nevertheless, in Tory ranks excitement is building over the Malthouse compromise, a plan co-ordinated by a minister Kit Malthouse proposed by leading soft dealer Nicky Morgan. This would extend the transition period from the end of 2020  to December 2021 and allow the UK and EU to “prepare properly” for WTO terms or “obviate this outcome by …

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No Deal alarm is rising on both sides of the border

Ah the old, old days! With so much concentration on the Westminster bubble, it’s easy to forget that the pressures of Brexit operate in several directions. Cracks in the facade of unity among EU 27 are appearing on the surface as the prospect of No Deal by default refuses to go away.  Irish alarm is by no means unique. As everybody always knew, solidarity with EU 26 leaves the Republic uniquely exposed to a particularly  inelegant game of  political poker …

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The DUP seem poised to bail out Theresa May. Will the EU be impressed?

 After that cosy little dinner at Chequers, the Downing St spin machine duly delivered straight to The Sun   THE DUP have privately decided to back Theresa May’s Brexit deal next week when she toughens it up, in a major breakthrough for No10. The Sun can reveal that delicate deliberations are now ongoing between the Ulster unionist party’s leaders and the PM. In a crucial shift, it has emerged that the DUP are now willing to accept a backstop as long as …

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Brexit panic surfaces in Dublin but the EU is implacable on No Deal consequences

Last night I managed to survive the Ivan Rogers Experience, ( YouTube) a remorseless  dissection of the  entire Brexit debate which was as depressing as it was impressive. With good reason, Rogers is known as the Eeyore among Brexit experts. He was the UK ambassador to the EU who quit in disgust six months into Theresa May’s premiership. Remorselessly he spelled out the defects of every option now facing the UK, including remaining or re-applying. He laid about him with …

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With the Conservative and Labour leaders now under internal pressure, MPs on both sides of the chamber move to take control

. The moment of Brexit decision has shifted yet again – closer and closer to default crash out of the EU on 29 March. Theresa May has confirmed that plan B is plan A – basically the deal that was so massively rejected a week ago. But the dynamics have changed. Next Monday she will move a neutral motion to the Withdrawal Bill taking note of her statement today. This will allow amendments to be moved with alternative  proposals for …

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Break-up of the parties or No Deal Brexit – the looming choice

As matters stand, we’re either heading for crash out No Deal or the main parties are heading for break-up. The Conservative and Labour leaders are dolally.  Theresa May is listening but not  to anybody who wants  a customs union or a second referendum.  Jeremy Corbyn will not only not meet her but has urged all Labour MPs not to meet her either.  But this request in a letter to his MPs came too late to stop former ministers Yvette Cooper and …

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Nothing new to offer as Theresa May misfires the last shot in her locker in support of her deal

With her back to the wall Theresa May exposes  her own and her speech writers’ monumental ignorance of  UK devolution by bizarrely invoking the  creation of the Welsh Assembly based on a squeakingly narrow referendum result. as a killer argument   against calling a second referendum on Brexit.   What a pity that that she is such a poor  advocate  of what would otherwise be a viable proposal.  Extracts from May’s speech released by Downing Street last night show she will invoke …

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The shape of the final deal actually looks promising- if only we can get over the hump of the backstop. London now needs Dublin’s help to get there

 “Cosmetic and meaningless.” On behalf of the DUP, Nigel Dodds’ rejection of the government’s latest bunch of concessions and clarifications is entirely predictable. The legal text containing the backstop of the Ireland/ Northern Ireland Protocol has indeed not been changed as everybody knew it wouldn’t be and won’t be.  Many will shrug and say that’s that. But it’s nothing of the sort. If there’s to be any middle way between No Deal and No Brexit, it’s hard to see how …

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The DUP are the crucial “dominoes” in May’s bid to win a second meaningful vote

Theresa May’s strategy to try to win MPs’ endorsement of the withdrawal agreement is a little clearer, arising out of hints she gave to Andrew Marr yesterday. The strategy  is classic if conventional  politics, before a fundamentally divided, incoherent opposition, however formidable it now seems. It involves  narrowing  the gaps, wearing down opposition by a mixture of  project Fear (miles of traffic jams and English police on Ulster streets ) and project Farce (the shipping company with no ships), and …

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Theresa, No Deal Project Fear is a cruel insult to our intelligence

The latest Project Fear is a UK government analysis of the impact of No Deal   on the Republic’s trade. It says that 80% of their trade with Europe passes over the British land bridge to ports such as Dover. No deal barriers causing expected congestion there  would have a catastrophic effect on the Irish economy. The aim is to soften up Varadkar’s apparently implacable support for the backstop. Project Fear is accompanied by Project  Puff up and Soothe the DUP, …

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May’s desperate tactics are unworthy and will fail to give her victory

Tactically Theresa May is being astute. But then she has always run Brexit as a party strategy.  Strategically in the national interest, she’s risking a disaster. By continuing to face MPs with a binary choice as late as mid January – My Deal or No Deal – she’s squeezing the time available for any Plan Bs to emerge but she’s raised her immediate chances of staying in office.  This of course assumes the divided cabinet will play along and the …

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Game of chicken is hotting up

Brexit tensions are rising towards fever pitch. The Times story puts it neatly : If you step back from the noise surrounding Theresa May’s struggle to get her deal through parliament there are really only four Brexit options left on the table: Mrs May’s deal (possibly tweaked); no deal; a second referendum; and a Norway-style soft Brexit. Each option has its advocates in the Commons but none yet has enough backing to command majority support in the House. Ultimately MPs …

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Face it: A backstop is a necessary condition to avoid catastrophe. May’s conditions do not threaten the constitutional integrity of the UK – for now

The Times headline is unqualified: “No- deal will “include new border in the Irish Sea.”  So we know what side they’re on. Theresa May’s adoption of  a “temporary” backstop whose terms and conditions she insists would not play a part in a permanent deal with the EU was inevitable.   But here’s the bigger problem. To be temporary, it must mean that  the whole UK will remain  in long term close alignment with the EU.  A looser permanent relationship like a …

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Even if Theresa wins cabinet support for her ” all-UK customs arrangement”, time is running out to knock it into shape for the negotiations

In a nutshell, this is   the first problem Theresa May will confront from up to a dozen cabinet ministers this morning.  “We must have control of the backstop. If Theresa doesn’t stare down the EU and win a mechanism that does this, the whole argument is immaterial as there is zero chance of passing the Commons.  The Taoiseach indicated an openness to consider proposals for “a review mechanism”, provided that it was clear that the outcome of any such review …

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