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Imperial engineering - June
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March 27 2019
By Westminster Watcher

Our man based in Westminster is a seasoned political watcher follows the implications on the coach, bus and minibus industry of debates and decisions being made by politicians both in London, as well as the devolved regions. The nature of his role and contacts means he has to remain anonymous, as he keeps his finger on the political pulse...

Drama in the House

I know everybody is thoroughly bored of Brexit, but just as I think the situation can’t become any more dramatic, it does. So forgive me if I indulge myself in making some further observations on a dramatic week at Westminster last week. This affects us all. 

The Speaker ruled against a third meaningful vote on the Withdrawal Agreement

First, the Speaker’s ruling that he wouldn’t allow a third meaningful vote on the Withdrawal Agreement if it was the same, or substantially the same, as the Agreement that was put to the second meaningful vote. 


Not unreasonably he cited parliamentary precedent to justify this dramatic intervention given that MPs have twice decisively rejected the Agreement. Except that earlier this year the Speaker grandly said that he would not be held by precedent in reaching his rulings on parliamentary procedure as otherwise procedure would never evolve.

Contradictory or what? The Speaker is an ardent ‘Remainer’ so he clearly ruled against a third vote to suit his own views when the Speaker must be entirely neutral. It’s disgraceful.

Then, despite having repeatedly said she was determined to see the UK leave the EU on 29 March, Theresa May is, humiliatingly, forced to ask the EU for a short extension of Article 50 to the end of June despite the fact that only a few days before her putative deputy, David Lidington, told the House that a short delay would be “downright reckless”.  Clearly the Prime Minister and her deputy don’t see eye to eye.

Gone in days?

But, as I write the signals from Brussels are that the EU will only agree to a short extension if MPs first vote in favour of the Withdrawal Agreement in a third vote – which the Speaker has said he won’t allow. Perhaps the House will find a way around the Speaker’s ruling and another vote will take place – but the signs are that Mrs May is set to lose this one too. The likelihood of the UK leaving the EU without a deal has increased dramatically.

I said last week that Mrs May would be gone by 1 August. I now think she may be gone in a matter of days. Her incendiary attempt to lay the blame for this mess at the feet of MPs rather than to take any responsibility on herself, both at Prime Minister’s Question Time last Wednesday and then in a TV broadcast the same day, was breath-taking. The furious, emotional, reaction from MPs, including many in her own party, was entirely predictable. 

If we leave the EU without a deal Mrs May surely has no choice but resign. But even if, miraculously, a third vote passes the Withdrawal Agreement and an extension to end June is agreed to, she’s now angered so many in her own party - Remainers and Leavers alike - her position is untenable. 

Despite winning that no confidence vote last December most Conservative MPs now just want her to go. When you read this the UK will know its fate – and so will Theresa May.

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