It is now a month since the House of Commons has divided on a motion. To the justified derision of those outside, it has frequently risen in mid-afternoon for lack of anything to do. On Tuesday, the Government trumpeted as an iconic Parliamentary moment the Second Reading of the Wild Animals in Circuses (No. 2) Bill. The ban will affect only two circuses and a grand total of 19 animals.
This paralysis is the result of the barely believable intransigence of a Prime Minister consumed by the increasingly deluded aim of passing an Agreement which MPs have thrice told her in emphatic terms is a bad deal. Her response each time has been unmoved: “Pass my deal.”
Her response to every Brexit question before the Liaison Committee last week amounted to: “pass my deal.” Her response to the local elections which saw 1,330 Conservative Councillors unseated and 44 Conservative Councils lost has been: “pass my deal.”
This is a catastrophic misreading of public and Parliamentary opinion. Yet in pursuit of her hopeless aim, the Prime Minister has broken almost every promise she has made and reduced herself to a caretaker. Over 90 per cent now disapprove of the Government’s handling of Brexit and only 28 per cent believe the Withdrawal Agreement respects the referendum result.
The 2017 Conservative Manifesto pledged that the UK would leave the Single Market, the Customs Union, and the jurisdiction of the European Court. We were told that “Brexit means Brexit.” But, according to the Withdrawal Agreement, Brexit means having laws which may not be in our interests imposed upon us by 27 other countries, being subject to substantial fines for non-compliance, from which there is no unilateral right of exit, and paying £39bn for the privilege.
The Prime Minister promised over 100 times that we would leave on 29th March. That deadline was not met. Nor was the subsequent deadline of 12th April. We now face an extension to 31st October and the absurd spectacle of the UK participating in European Parliament elections – costing £156 million – three years after 17.4 million people voted to Leave.
Mrs May likes to claim that if MPs had voted with her we would have left on 29th March, but ignores the fact that she took the active decision to extend our membership. All she had to do to deliver Brexit at the end of March was nothing, and she did not manage that.
Politics is descending into farce as the intransigent Theresa May still refuses to go