The Prime Minister immediately jumped to her feet as her thumping defeat was announced. Perhaps jumped isn’t quite the mot juste. Propelled might be m
The Prime Minister immediately jumped to her feet as her thumping defeat was announced. Perhaps jumped isn’t quite the mot juste. Propelled might be more apt. Like it was a reflex reaction. Let’s face it, she’s becoming quite used to these humiliations.
Mrs May accepted her thrashing with customary good grace. Members had to crane their necks to catch wind of what she was saying. Her voice was barely audible, her vocal cords following Monday’s negotiations as shredded as a platter of Peking Duck.
Exasperating talks with the Brussels cabal will do that to you. Though few would have blamed her if her hoarseness had come from screaming at her own backbenchers.
Hammer blow: Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg joined the No lobby along with other MPs
For here had been a golden chance to deliver the will of the people. An opportunity to prove to the world that the Mother of Parliaments was a bastion of honour and common sense.
By a majority of 149, MPs had betrayed the values ingrained in this building ever since the 1834 design by architects Charles Barry and Augustus Pugin became a reality and a beacon of democracy to the rest of the world.
Once again our political masters chose to flunk it. A day of utter ignominy.
Mrs May’s announcement that today’s vote on whether No Deal will not be whipped was the signal of a PM admitting she had lost control.
In office, as someone once said, but not in power.
And to think for a moment there had been hope. Not much, but a glimmer. A wee, tiniest shard of light in the gloaming.
Maybe, her Cabinet thought yesterday morning, just maybe.
Then, shortly after 11am, came the torpedo. It arrived via Attorney General Geoffrey Cox’s office. The Government’s legal adviser announced he would not be changing his legal advice on the backstop.
Mr Cox can hardly be blamed. He was fully behind the deal. But legal assurances are never 100 per cent science. Despite attempts by Brussels to smear him as an out-of-his-depth pantomime horse, Respect for the Attorney General remained undiminished. He had put principle before party.
Self-satisfied Dominic Grieve (Con, Beaconsfield) congratulated him for ‘speaking truth to power’. Joanna Cherry (SNP, Edinburgh South West) said Mr Cox had ‘burst his party’s political bubble for the sake of professional integrity’.
Mrs May’s voice went during the marathon session in the Commons yesterday for another meaningful vote
By the time the Prime Minister entered the chamber after Mr Cox was done her deal was doomed. Scotched by the naysayers. One by one, the grinning lemmings had leapt into the abyss.
On the front bench, ministers were tapping their phones, and whispering to each other behind their hands conspiratorially. Behind, empty spaces everywhere.
Clearly someone had let cry to begin manning the lifeboats.
Taking her seat, Mrs May looked up at her husband in the visitors’ gallery and gave a resigned shrug.
When she began speaking, it became clear why. Her voice was croakier than a bullfrog. ‘You should hear Jean-Claude Juncker,’ she squawked.
The Opposition peppered her with interventions, drawing things out. Up in the Press seats we wondered if her voice would even last the course.
There were 75 Tory rebels – down from 118 last time – as well as all 10 DUP MPs. Just three Labour MPs backed the deal. The Prime Minister got back about 40 MPs from the January 15 vote
Iain Duncan Smith (Con, Chingford) manfully passed a tablet down to the front bench. A cough sweet? Considering how her colleagues had behaved, few would have blamed her for snaffling a cyanide capsule with equal enthusiasm. As it was, Mrs May had little new to add.
The red meat of her negotiations had already been announced by her Attorney General. And frankly he said it all much better. Nor did Jeremy Corbyn have much to say. A more skilled statesman might have given the wounded PM the velvet glove treatment, like a leopard toying with its prey. But no. Rant, rant, rant he went as usual.
The occupancy of the chamber at this point had dwindled. It may not have helped Mr Corbyn that he eventually got to speak just moments before the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham was due off. I know what I’d rather have been watching.
Once members headed for the voting lobby, the naysayers had taken to Twitter to their express their intentions. All was lost. The Prime Minister dutifully returned to the bridge to accept her fate.
Good show. Meanwhile, of her hubby there was no sign. Whatever firewater that man has lurking in the back of the cabinet in Downing Street, let us hope he poured his wife a large one last night.