Richard North, 15/05/2019  
 


Here we go again. Mrs May's spokesman has announced that a Bill implementing the Brexit deal will be introduced in the first week of June, a vote for which will have the effect of the Commons assenting to the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement.

This is despite the lack of a deal with Mr Corbyn, although talks are continuing into today. Yet, with very little expectations of success, this puts Mrs May's stratagem into the high risk category, so high that failure seems almost certain.

Coincidentally, Donald Trump will be in the country on a three-day state visit, attending – amongst other things – the D-Day 75th Anniversary commemorations in Portsmouth. Whether that will have any impact on parliament, in a positive sense, is unlikely but it will keep the media distracted for a while.

But what will also still be in everybody's minds will be the results of the Euro-elections and the thinking is that Mrs May will be relying on the expected Faragical surge to bring the MPs into line, assuming that they will be terrified by the result.

Voting for the deal, so the theory goes, will be the garlic which wards off the evil and keeps Farage from repeating his magic at the general election.

Either way, Downing Street is stressing that it is "imperative" to have the vote in early June if the UK is to leave the EU before MPs' summer recess – usually in the second half of July. It thus looks as if Mrs May is trying to get as close as possible to her original 30 June deadline.

That is probably the only opportunity left to put Brexit to bed before the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, scheduled from 29 September to 2 October. This will either make it a victory parade for the dancing queen, or a doom-laden admission of failure pointing us in the direction of a no deal exit at the end of October.

The timing of the vote is also seen as a last-ditch attempt by Mrs May to deflect the pressure on her to resign, buying her enough time to get to the recess, whence things go quiet for a bit while everyone is on their holidays. Whether she then resigns or toughs it out until the conference is anyone's guess.

Judging her intentions isn't made any easier when the electorate also seems equivocal, taking the view that getting rid of Mrs May would make very little difference. A ComRes poll for the Telegraph has only 15 percent of voters more likely to vote Conservative in the Euro-elections if the prime minister was replaced. On the other hand, 60 percent say that her departure would not affect the way they vote.

Crucially, 40 percent thought there was no suitable replacement for Mrs May, as against a mere 31 percent who thought there was a suitable candidate in waiting. None of the names offered attracted majority support of all voters.

Only 22 percent of all voters think the Oaf would make a good leader of the Tories, as opposed to 57 percent who think otherwise – nearly three to one against him. Only 35 percent of Tory voters support his leadership bid, which rises to 40 percent of "leave" voters but, even with him at the helm, the Tories lose to Labour at the next general election.

Interestingly, when it comes to a May/Corbyn deal, 49 percent support the idea while only 26 percent oppose it. This is about the only issue which attracts a clear majority – possibly pointing the way forward for the two party leaders.

What we don't get to know are the voting intentions of the public if Mrs May either delivers Brexit with parliament approving the Withdrawal Agreement, and how that might change if we drop out without a deal.

However, given the spread of voting for the general election, some pundits are pointing to a high probability of a hung parliament, suggesting that either the Tories or Labour might have to form a coalition with Farage's party in order to gain a working majority.

But if one homes in on the one area where there is a clear electoral message, the support for the Tories and Labour working together indicates that a workable solution might be a national government, replicating the conditions of 1931, 1935 or 1937, or Winston Churchill's 1940 wartime coalition.

That would certainly fuel Farage's "betrayal" rhetoric, but one could believe that an embattled political establishment might find this to be a more convenient way of excluding the interloper. And taking this to the extreme, one could even speculate that the two main parties might join together in order to revoke the Article 50 notification.

At a time when the country was under such serious stress, the idea of government unity seemed by far the best solution at the time. In the desperate time to come, this may again seem a reasonable solution for the political classes, who have more in common with each other than their electorates.

Under such a scenario, one might see the two parties coming together in a formal pact during the life of this parliament, with them then standing on a joint, national platform for a general election, as they did in 1935, thereby giving a resultant government the appearance of a mandate on which to proceed with EU reintegration.

That would certainly give Farage something to moan about, and enhance his betrayal narrative. But even he might be pushed to get a majority under such conditions.






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