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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 […]
By former MP for Stirling, Steven Paterson The extraordinary power and influence exerted by Boris Johnson are things I admit to find perplexing. True, as Foreign Secretary, Boris holds one of the great offices of state, yet he proves himself again and again to be hopelessly out of his depth […]
By former MP for Stirling, Steven Paterson The Tories and many of their supporters in the mainstream media would have us believe that those people of the Windrush generation who have been treated as second class citizens by their own government are some sort of collateral damage: accidental casualties of […]
By former MP for Stirling, Steven Paterson
At the time of writing, Home Secretary Amber Rudd remains in her job as the Windrush scandal fallout continues, and the full extent of the inhuman treatment meted out by the UK Government to its own citizens through deliberately rigid officialdom is becoming more painfully clear by the day.
In normal times, it is difficult to imagine how she could possibly keep a job she is so obviously not on top of. But these are certainly not normal times.
The Guardian has just broken a story with further leaked documents contradicting the Home Secretary’s position that there were no official targets for kicking ‘immigrants’ out the country, and it rather looks like she has been caught lying to Parliament. Human shield for her predecessor as Home Secretary she may be, but if it transpires that she has indeed been misleading parliament, her time will undoubtedly be up, and yet another nail will be hammered into the coffin of this decaying administration.
By Steven Paterson former MP for Stirling
The omnipresence of former UKIP leader Nigel Farage in our politics is one of those things in life that must be endured, it seems.
I mean, every time one thinks this shallow character has finally shuffled off the political coil, he pops up once again on network news programmes like some oily car salesman, still somehow in business pushing his well-practiced pitch and damning the beastly European Union and the freedom of movement it brings for its citizens.
Perhaps as a society, we have just become inured to his grinning face beaming at us from television screens during an endless series of publicity stunts blaming overbearing Brussels bureaucrats for trying to ban bendy bananas and the likes to the extent that we’ll tolerate his view being necessary on any story on Brexit and taking back control of Britain’s borders.