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FOR Theresa May to lose one Brexit secretary may be, to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, “regarded as a misfortune. To lose both looks like carelessness.”
Some commentators ridicule Dominic Raab’s departure in the footsteps of David Davis, suggesting he has responsibility for having negotiated the Tory government’s friendless deal only to abandon it at the last minute.
In reality, as the Prime Minister made clear after Davis walked out, she is Britain’s chief negotiator and, in her absence, her Europe adviser Oliver Robbins holds sway.
This former permanent secretary for the Department for Exiting the European Union is, in common with May and her predecessor David Cameron, for whom Robbins also worked, a lifelong supporter of the EU project.
The PM stated repeatedly in her marathon performance at the despatch box today that she was determined to deliver on the electorate’s clear referendum result while maintaining the closest relations with the EU.
If she is sincere about these aims, she has set herself mission impossible, as one MP after another told her.
The contrast between the anger expressed in Westminster and the preening complacency of EU officials Michel Barnier and Donald Tusk confirms the direction charted by the May-Robbins craft.
Jeremy Corbyn was right to point to “two years of bungled negotiations,” followed by a “botched deal” that leaves the government “in chaos.”
The opposition leader outlined the gaping gulf between May’s promises to her Tory and Democratic Union Party MPs, especially over creating “a de facto border down the Irish Sea” between Britain and Northern Ireland.
As much as she tried to deny the undeniable, she couldn’t have imagined being faced with the loud interjection of “He’s right!” by DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds about Corbyn.
The Labour leader highlighted that May’s declarations about taking control over our laws, money and borders and ending European Court of Justice over Britain’s affairs are mere fantasies.
Jacob Rees-Mogg’s announcement that he was sending a letter to 1922 Committee chair Graham Brady MP to indicate no confidence in the Prime Minister was intended as a clarion call to Tory Brexiteers and could mean her facing a leadership challenge in the near future.
Corbyn understands that May’s government faces an existential crisis, offering a political opportunity to Labour, provided it concentrates on demanding a general election as the PM watches her key policy plank crumble and she personally faces possible removal from office.
The Labour leader’s clarity contrasts vividly with that shared by the New Labour rump of MPs, led by Chuka Umunna.
Umunna, his close Tory ally Anna Soubry, together with Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable and Green MP Caroline Lucas, led the charge for an undemocratic so-called “People’s Vote” to overturn a decision backed by 17.4 million voters that still awaits implementation.
Were Labour to fall for this time-dishonoured EU ploy of forcing electorates to rerun decisions the Brussels elite disapproves of until they correct their mistake, it would be dicing with electoral disaster.
There isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell of May’s bogus Brexit deal being accepted by the Commons without large numbers of MPs performing back somersaults.
European Council president Donald Tusk said today that EU leaders will meet on November 25 to finalise the draft agreement, provided “nothing extraordinary happens,” but the only outcome worthy of the designation “extraordinary” would be if MPs were to back the deal on its return to Parliament.
The Tory government is out on its feet. Labour and other anti-Tory MPs must concentrate on counting it out.
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