Friday, 17 February 2017

Scathing Commentary

Andrew Rawnsley is understandably scathing about the lack of leadership shown by Westminster MPs in the great Brexit debate, especially by Jeremy Corbyn and the official Labour opposition.

And as Rawnsley observes at the end of his opinion piece Westminster MPs have essentially given the Government a blank cheque and rendered themselves "powerless to influence the outcome of the most important negotiation in Britain's postwar history". 

Read the full article via the ink below to The Observer.

Parliament has diminished itself at this turning point in our history

By Andrew Rawnsley - The Observer

Cowed and fearful MPs have sanctioned a Brexit strategy which most of them think will end in calamity
The details of the crushing government majority are handed to a clerk after the Brexit Bill vote. Photograph: -/AFP/Getty Images

Sir David Attenborough, eat your heart out. You may travel to the most exotic biosystems on our planet, but you will be unlikely to glimpse such surreal couplings as we have just witnessed in the voting lobbies of the House of Commons. There was Jeremy Corbyn putting his name to the legislation of Theresa May. There was John McDonnell fusing with Boris Johnson. Most miraculous to behold, Diane Abbott, mercifully recovered from the headache that was so life-threatening that it prevented her from participating in earlier proceedings, marched in step with Michael Gove. Voting together and voting for a very hard form of Brexit. Which meant that it wasn’t even close. The Brexit Bill smashed through the Commons unamended and by 494 votes to 122, a crushing government majority of 372.

This is remarkable at several levels. For all the chatter about obeying the will of the people, how MPs voted was wildly unrepresentative of what the country did last summer. Had the narrowness of the 52/48 referendum result been replicated in parliament, the government’s majority would have been a much more modest 26. It was also dramatically out of sync with the actual beliefs of most MPs, since three quarters of them did not want to leave the EU. Not only did they sign off on Mrs May’s plan to initiate divorce proceedings next month, they did so having been forewarned by the prime minister that she will pursue a very stark and high-risk version of Brexit.

Britain is departing the single market and most likely quitting the customs union as well. She had even told them in advance that she is prepared to crash out of the EU with no deal at all. That this could be in the range of potential outcomes would have horrified most MPs six months ago. It still does so. Yet they waved it through with the salute of a stonking majority. Finally, and very significantly, parliament didn’t even claim for itself any meaningful input when Mrs May enters the negotiating chamber with the EU.