Close

Comment

The Brexit Ultimatum

Shoot herself in the head

By Steven Paterson former MP for Stirling

Such was the surrealism of the week just witnessed that the Prime Minister reminded me of that scene from the classic Mel Brooks spoof Western Blazing Saddles, when the new sheriff arrives in the town of Rock Ridge to find himself somewhat less than welcome.

Pointing a gun to her head, the Prime Minister warned: ”Hold it! The next man makes a move, the United Kingdom gets it!” Hold it, men. She’s not bluffing.

It seems that every day that passes sees one development or another that pushes any kind of deal between the UK and the EU27 over Brexit further out of reach and less attainable, and underlines the deathlike grip the extreme hard Brexiters have over this process. They want no deal, and it looks increasingly as if they will be able to force such an eventuality on a reluctant parliament which has become as paralysed and powerless as the Government which tries to lead it.

Take the knife-edge votes on Monday and Tuesday for example. The hard line European Research Group, led by Jacob Rees-Mogg and supported by Stirling’s Tory MP Stephen Kerr, tabled amendments to the Government’s customs bill designed to gut the recent “Chequers Agreement”, leaving the Government with the invidious choice of rolling over and accepting the amendments or facing a catastrophic defeat which would likely have ended Theresa May’s premiership.

Read More

The Beginning of the Dead-End Game

Prime Minister Theresa May

This week’s comment from Steven Paterson, former MP for Stirling

The tedious creep towards the Brexit endgame suddenly accelerated in the past week or so, as the looming negotiation deadline in September finally forced the Prime Minister to nail down some actual proposals at her Chequers showdown.

Cue the resignations of the Brexit Secretary David Davis, who had clearly been side-lined and ignored by the Prime Minister, and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, whose political calculation after seeing Davies resign on a point of principle was that his chances of becoming the next Prime Minister were better served in resigning too.

Boris Johnson,
possibly your future PM and to quote Frankie Boyle, “a cross between a serious head injury and an unmade bed……” scary thought.
Image licensed from depositphoto.com
Any question that the Prime Minister has seen off her extreme hard Brexit opponents is entirely illusory, of course. Both Johnson and Davies will be vociferous critics of her Brexit negotiations from the backbenches and in the press, and the precarious arithmetic for the minority Tory Government in the House of Commons means that each time a significant vote on the matter comes along, the risk of defeat is very real.

It’s anyone’s guess how many such defeats May’s administration can take before collapsing, but we are probably about to find out. Votes on customs arrangements take place in the Commons today (Monday), and the hard Brexit brigade, whose leader Jacob Rees-Mogg has been scathing in his criticism of the Prime Minister’s position and the White Paper published following the Chequers conference, may seek to derail the Government depending on the level of support he can count on.

Read More

A Long Hot Summer

By Steven Paterson former MP for Stirling

In the end, the EU Summit was a bit of a damp squib with no real progress on Brexit to note. And this is remarkable, now that it is over two years since the referendum and with a deal, if there is to be one, requiring to be agreed by October in order to allow its ratification in EU member states.

It seems the gravity of what is at stake is lost by a public long since bored to tears by the glacial rate of progress on the technicalities and intricacies of this issue.

Yet Brexit has enormous ramifications for the economy and jobs in this country, and the UK’s fantastical position is to persist with the obvious pretence that everything will be alright on its own. This is taking complacency to a staggering and unbelievably irresponsible degree. Reports from EU countries like Ireland now indicate that preparations for a no deal Brexit are being stepped up by the EU27, who despair at a UK Government which simply cannot get its act together. It seems utterly incredible that facing the biggest constitutional change in decades, the government charged with delivering a Brexit deal cannot even participate in meaningful negotiations as yet because it has still not finalised its own position a full two years into the process.

Read More

The Settled Will of the Palace of Westminster

Clock of Palace of Westminster

By Steven Paterson former MP for Stirling

In the end, the Tory Government got its way with the EU (Withdrawal) Bill this week when it returned to the House of Commons for what turned out to be the final time.

The Bill has now squeaked through, by just sixteen votes. It remains to be seen if the handful of rebel Tory MPs who could have delivered a painful defeat on the Government actually won a concession as substantial as they would have us believe, on what is for them the crucial issue of allowing Parliament a ‘meaningful vote’ on the final Brexit deal – if there is one that is.

Meanwhile, the week has confirmed that the devolution settlement which has operated for the past nineteen years is a thing of the past thanks to the UK Government’s insistence that legislative might is right. The new convention replacing it says that whether it comes to a devolved or a reserved power, it is the UK Parliament which reigns supreme. Any powers conferred to the subordinate Scottish Parliament are conditional and subject to withdrawal should any future UK Government so choose.

Read More

Shall There Be A Scottish Parliament?

Scottish Parliament

By Steven Paterson, former MP for Stirling

The sheer contempt in which Scotland, its MPs and the Scottish Parliament are held by the Westminster establishment was laid bare this week when House of Lords amendments to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill were debated in the House of Commons.

The delirious shower of sneering, braying, and giggling Tories inhabiting the Government benches – including those representing Scottish constituencies – savoured the delicious moment that Westminster’s power grab was completed against Scotland’s Parliament. The “debate” (if indeed the English language can forgive me calling it thus) was relegated to the very end of the day’s proceedings thanks to the Government’s Programme Motion setting out the timetable, order and limit on debates, meaning there were a mere nineteen minutes remaining of parliamentary time to discuss the Tory attack on Scottish devolution.

Read More

DSG Operation in MOD Forthside

An open letter by SNP Councillor Alison Laurie
Last Thursday was an upsetting day for the many employees and their families who have experienced a redundancy as a result of Babcock closing their DSG operation in MOD Forthside. In a bitter irony, this was done on the same day as Heads of Terms for the Stirling City region deal were signed just along the road at the Engine Shed.

The service employed 56 people. These were highly skilled jobs, and almost 50 of them have now been made redundant. 

Yes, this was a decision made by Babcock Intl – a private company looking to further profits – but it came as the result of decisions made by the Tory Government to decommission MOD Forthside. 

In a press release, dated 7 September 2017, Stirling’s Tory MP Stephen Kerr boasted that he was “saving our jobs at Forthside”. 

Read More

Paying a High Price for the DUP

By Steven Paterson former MP for Stirling

It is almost a year since the Westminster General Election which saw the DUP sweep to an unprecedented level of power and influence through parliamentary arithmetic which means they effectively own the Tory UK Government. The continued support of their ten MPs in the House of Commons is the single reason Prime Minister Theresa May’s flagginggovernment can continue to survive week after tortured week

Read More

The Many Faces of Unionism

The Union flag

By Former MP for Stirling, Steven Paterson

This week’s Unionist conference in London drew together the big hitters of the Better Together world: Tory; Labour; and of course, DUP. Keynote speeches were delivered by Ruth Davidson, Michael Gove, Arlene Foster, Brandon Lewis, Alistair Darling, Jim Murphy and Theresa Villiers, as the Union and Unionism past, present and future were examined.

The tone was exactly what you’d expect. Generous dollops of gushing praise for the 300 year old Union which, it was alleged, has served us all so well for all this time, and predictable condemnation for the SNP for not taking the No vote in 2014 as an all-time, all-circumstances rejection of Scottish self-government forever and ever and ever.

Ruth Davidson stated a somewhat strange belief that talk of independence only started in 2007 – I’m sure I heard the concept mentioned before that – then went on to peddle the myth that the devolved Scottish Parliament she sits in is somehow an “autonomous and powerful parliament for Scotland”. This ridiculous falsehood at the very time her Tory colleagues at Westminster are ignoring the Scottish Parliament’s democratic vote to resist the stripping back of the powers it has by Westminster in response to a Brexit Scotland didn’t vote for but is being dragged towards anyway.

Read More

Co-operation and Partnership, Westminster-Style

The Scotland Office - time to go! Image By Paul the Archivist [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

By former MP for Stirling, Steven Paterson Perhaps Stirling’s unpredictable Tory MP Stephen Kerr was overcome and swelling with Britannic pride this week owing to wall to wall and unavoidable coverage of a royal wedding. Or maybe he just took a wee turn in the hot weather. Whatever the reason […]

Read More

How Is Boris Johnson Still Foreign Secretary?

Read More