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British MP’s will vote this week on an array of MP’s private member bills to help funnel Parliament toward some kind of Brexit harmony.
In the next few days British MP’s will be asked to vote on a number of motions to help the UK government gauge the level of support for each potential pathway forward and perhaps begin to align their policies with the winning motions.
The government isn’t obligated to act on winning or losing motions, but it does give them some indication as to where policy advisors and policymakers on the government side might concentrate their efforts.
The following three excerpts from a BBC website article published April 1, 2019 seem to make the best sense, which is why I’ve posted them for your convenience.
A link to the full BBC.com article from which these excerpts were taken can be found at the bottom of this page.
Motion A: Unilateral right of exit from backstop
Proposer: John Baron, Conservative
This proposal aims to commit the UK to leave the EU on 22 May with an amendment to Prime Minister Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement. That would allow the UK to exit the so-called Irish backstop whenever it wants, without the EU’s permission.
The backstop is an insurance policy designed to keep an open border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic “under all circumstances”, if the UK and EU do not manage to agree a permanent trade relationship in time.
Many MPs fear that it could mean the UK is tied to EU rules for years, while the Democratic Unionist Party has voted against it because it would mean Northern Ireland was treated differently from the rest of the UK.
This is a new motion, which was not considered by MPs on 27 March. But the EU has said that the backstop is not up for renegotiation.
Motion B: No deal in the absence of a withdrawal agreement
Proposer: John Baron, Conservative
This motion asks MPs to support the UK leaving the EU without a deal on 12 April, if they have not agreed to support the prime minister’s withdrawal agreement by then.
If the UK did leave the EU with no deal, it would mean initially trading on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms, which could mean tariffs on certain goods and extra checks on UK goods entering the EU.
On 27 March, a similar motion was backed by 160 MPs, but opposed by 400.
Motion H: EFTA and EEA
Proposer: George Eustice, Conservative
This motion proposes that the UK rejoins the European Free Trade Association as soon as possible, meaning the UK stays in the single market.
It also requires negotiations with the EU over “additional protocols” to resolve the issue of the Irish border and agri-food trade.
All excerpts courtesy of BBC.com Brexit: What are MPs voting on?
Published April 1, 2019.
Thumbnail image courtesy of: AP Photo/Matt Dunham
After trying to pull-off an international Brexit treaty all by herself with only a small cadre of Conservative insiders — and without allowing her colleagues in the UK House of Commons to participate in the process, nor indeed to know much at all about how negotiations with the EU were progressing, UK Prime Minister Theresa May was recently forced by British MP’s and the (excellent) Speaker of the House, John Bercow into fully informing them about her Brexit plans, which has resulted in the political equivalent of a slow-motion car crash.
Yet, Speaker John Bercow’s decision to allow a series of indicative votes in the UK House of Commons as a damage control measure and as a frustration-lowering device may turn out to be the best thing to happen to the House and to British democracy in decades.
Such precedent will allow indicative votes in the future on thorny issues before the government, thereby allowing individual MP’s to pose questions to the House and receive the results in the form of votes For or Against their motion and allows constituents to gauge the voting record of their MP’s.
At the very least, it’s another tool in the toolbox of Parliament with which to conduct The People’s business and to help MP’s, stakeholders in the UK economy, and Britons to understand the will of the House more completely.
Good so far? Yes?
Although Clearly Not Theresa May’s First Choice; Indicative Votes May Save Her in the End
Speaker Bercow’s decision to allow indicative votes will over time, funnel MP’s toward becoming part of the solution instead of part of the problem.
I doubt Theresa May sees that MP’s are and always should be (from the PM’s perspective) part of the solution instead of part of the problem. After all, how could she?
She’s been banging on about her cliquish Withdrawal Agreement / Political Declaration / Joint Instrument for almost the entire 986-days she’s been the Prime Minister and has tended to view colleagues in the same way she views Brexit and everything else in the world; As a series of obstacles to be avoided. (The mindset of a bureaucrat)
She doesn’t seem to realize that playing the bureaucrat isn’t what the job of Prime Minister is all about.
Politics in One Word: IRDIME
Once you move up to the big leagues, bureaucratese must give way to Identification (identifying items that legitimately require the attention of a UK Prime Minister) Research (getting the right policies from the get-go) Dissemination (communicating with colleagues / keeping them in the loop / thereby making them part of the solution instead of part of the problem) Informing (keeping the public informed) and importantly, Math (Do I have the necessary support to get my legislation passed?) which coincides nicely with Electability (Will I stay in power if I get these bills passed?)
Theresa May is in the situation she’s in — because she’s a ‘square peg in a round hole’.
Other bureaucrats who employ bureaucratic tools to accomplish political objectives will end up in the same quagmire that Theresa May now finds herself in — both in the House of Commons and in Brussels. And soon with the public who will blame her for getting the country into the mess it’s now in.
There’s no doubt she means well for the United Kingdom.
And there’s no doubt that (as you would expect from a world-class bureaucrat) she has crafted an excellent, perhaps exceptional Withdrawal Agreement / Political Declaration / Joint Instrument (except for the hated Irish backstop clause forced on her at the last-minute by unelected EU bureaucrats) and there’s no doubt she intends to make a success of Brexit even if it kills her dream of staying-on as Prime Minister. Admirable.
But a New Process Has Begun, Thanks to Speaker Bercow
During today’s indicative voting, not one proposal received majority approval from MP’s. Which may have surprised some of them who were wanting to hijack the Brexit process or those who wanted to kill it.
This is the back story of the indicative vote process: Sometimes people have unrealistic expectations, or feel they are being ‘kept down’ by the government which causes them to wonder that perhaps the present House of Commons isn’t as ‘democratic’ as it should be; Yet, there have been few examples of purer democracy than in the House of Commons yesterday where members voted on proposals offered by none other than MP’s from every party. An historic day!
And every one of them failed.
IRDIME works at the backbench level in the House of Commons exactly as the stock market works in the economy (the most perfectly balanced system in the universe, except for nature itself) and if an idea has merit people invest in it, and if it doesn’t have merit few invest in it, and if they do, they stand to lose. But feel free to invest or vote how you want!
And they’re now starting to see what Theresa May has been seeing all along; That there isn’t a magic bullet that can solve all of the various Brexit problems.
Which will have the (very odd, but predictable) effect of causing MP’s to respect Theresa May moreso than they’ve done over the past 986-days now that they see the limitations of democracy; How can you get what you want if you don’t know what you want? and; How can you get what you want if you can’t sell it well enough to the other members of the House?
It’s one thing to know what you don’t want, and that’s now been made clear by these time-consuming but necessary indicative votes.
Now, due to Speaker Bercow’s precedent-setting decision all that remains is for MP’s to find out what they do want.
All-in-all, a healthy democratic exercise is underway in the UK Parliament — a process that Theresa May should’ve initiated herself back in 2016 instead of locking MP’s out of the Brexit process for 2-years.
Including MP’s throughout the entire Brexit process could’ve resulted in Brexit done and dusted before June 23, 2018 (within 730-days, or 2-years of the referendum to Leave the EU) and both the UK and the EU would’ve been the better for it.
And there’s no excuse on Earth good enough to cover that failure.
The Obvious Way for the House to Proceed (From a Brexiteer Point-of-View)
- Continue with more indicative votes until every side has had their fair say (without undue duplication of proposals)
- If no clear winner arises, then straight to voting on the 400-page Withdrawal Agreement / Political Declaration / Joint Instrument (remove The Backstop) and every MP should vote to pass it with a clear conscience if they’re true democrats representing the will of The People.
- The House should then vote that Theresa May present the approved 400-page WA, etc., to Brussels for their kind consideration.
- If the EU answers, ‘No’ or if it doesn’t counter-offer — then, straight to a No Deal Brexit — which is what The People voted for in the first place.
- But if an EU counter-offer is made, then that must be respectfully considered by the whole House, first by indicative vote, and then by meaningful vote.
The end of this story is that separate from going through this interesting and necessary indicative vote session; The People voted to Leave, they didn’t vote for complicated Withdrawal Agreements, nor did they vote for high falutin’ Political Declarations, nor for weak fixes to the fundamental error in the Withdrawal Agreement (the Backstop) they voted to Leave the EU — and the job of government is to carry out the will of The People — whether individual MP’s like the instructions given by The People or not.
And come Hell or high water, I expect that in the end, that will be done.
Therefore, the Dichotomy of the UK House of Commons is This:
Theresa May tried to blast her secretive Brexit deal past MP’s using Shock and Awe tactics and failed twice (making MP’s part of the problem in her mind) but Speaker Bercow, by allowing a series of indicative votes helped MP’s to recognize that Theresa May’s flawed deal is actually a better deal than the House itself could arrange — and therefore, the Speaker, by treating MP’s with fairness and respect, may thereby help MP’s pass Theresa May’s twice-rejected deal.
This Can’t be Said Loudly Enough…
The Speaker of the House, John Bercow, used the strength of the House (its MP’s, its numbers, its experience, its longstanding systems and procedures, its ability to innovate and set new precedent) which allowed (facilitated?) members of Parliament to become part of the solution instead of part of the problem.
And that’s what politics and leadership is all about. Well done, John Bercow!
UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s amended Withdrawal Agreement + the non binding Political Declaration + the Joint Instrument may be for all we know, the best possible arrangement for the United Kingdom to Leave the European Union; But if it takes until the year-3535 before it gets approved and signed into law, by definition, it’s not the best deal is it?
You might laugh at the year-3535 connotation. But really folks, the ‘talking shop’ that is the UK House of Commons (at least under Theresa May’s premiership) is on track to deliver Brexit months or even years after it has been repeatedly promised by the Prime Minister — which means the Brexit that Theresa May is on course to deliver might as well happen in the year-3535.
All of which means that Theresa May’s version of Brexit is irrelevant.
If you can’t get it done on-time and on-budget (£39 billion) Theresa May, it renders your vision of Brexit 100% insufficient and irrelevant.
I will remind you yet again, Prime Minister, The People voted to Brexit; They didn’t vote for a Withdrawal Agreement/Political Declaration/Joint Instrument/plus delays — they voted for the UK to Leave the EU in a reasonable amount of time.
And either the year-3535 or any date beyond June 23, 2018 (yes, 2018) is just not acceptable.
Even the newest backbench MP should recognize that once a referendum is held, and once the result becomes clear, and once the government promises to honour the result of that referendum — that promise to The People must be kept — and it’s not unreasonable to expect that it should be kept within 2-years of the date of the referendum.
This business of Brexit-extension-after-Brexit-extension (which is what I fully expect will happen over the coming months and years) is sub par, gauche, Low Ambition politics and it represents the very worst of parliamentary democracy on planet Earth — a talking shop that can’t get anything done, and keeps kicking the can down the road hoping it will all go away — and then blames its own MP’s for the failure.
Theresa May: Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way!
There comes a point in every Prime Minister’s political life when they become a detriment to their party and to the country. It’s unseemly to hang on to power one minute beyond the moment that occurs, and that time is coming perilously close for Theresa May.
Theresa May has had almost three leisurely years to deliver Brexit — that’s 985-days if you’re counting the days — and her Number One platform item and promise to The People remains unfulfilled.
(It’s been 1005-days since the referendum to Leave the EU)
I’ll remind you at this point that it took only 2044-days for the UK and its allies to defeat Nazi Germany in the biggest war this world has ever known (September 3, 1939 – April 8, 1945) and if Theresa May and her government can’t even deliver a Brexit working with a European ally in less than 1000-days, that government’s failure will stand as one of the epic failures in political history.
Every MP should hang their heads in shame, resign their seat forthwith, and refer to themselves as ‘The Snowflake Generation’ forevermore unless they can now and suddenly act on the will of The People and arrange a Brexit (any kind of Brexit!) including a so-called and very unfairly portrayed No Deal Brexit, and get it handled within days — and be on with the other important (and piling-up) business of running the country.
The shame should be palpable; Millions died in World Wars fighting in brutal conditions for freedom and democracy, and with it, good government — and they didn’t fight for those noble ideals so that MP’s and in particular the Prime Minister could run away from their responsibilities, from their oft-stated promises, and from their party platform — because they’re too afraid to govern, or for some other reason of which we know not.
It’s time for the Theresa May government to stop running away from actually having to make a decision and to give The People what they voted for in the June 2016 referendum and if they can’t do that, then they need to resign, for they are not the quality of people the country needs in the UK House of Commons.
The good and long-suffering British people deserve better than this path of least resistance government.