LEADING THE WAY OUT OF THE EU

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Friday 10 May 2019 

A tepid week finally draws to a close. Who would have thought we’re only two weeks away from a national poll, or rather a second referendum, to borrow a phrase from Question Time’s young and commendably spirited audience member (must watch Tweet below – Westmonster have a write-up) last night.

The Times report an increasingly Conservative calamity. Their European elections leaflet fails to mention an independent trading policy or leaving the Customs Union. Worse still, with no clear electoral platform to work from, the Tories have orientated their campaign around shaming their own MPs who voted against May’s deal, inviting voters to visit www.backthebrexitdeal.com and email their own Member of Parliament to demand they vote for it when it inevitably returns to the House of Commons. The motivation: this is the only way of stopping the elections. Good grief.

Absolute madness. First, the election has already been confirmed by David Lidington, May’s number two in cabinet. Secondly, what kind of leaflet – and the website is a fundamental extension of the leaflet – is premised and stopping the election coming down the line.

Interestingly, the page initially listed the 34 patriots who called the government out on the abominable withdrawal agreement with Brussels at the most recent vote. That section of the website has been withdrawn.

“This leaflet seems to contradict what I and Conservative colleagues were elected on in 2017. It is of concern to me that our party’s leaflet has failed to include that we will leave the customs union and the single market to ensure we can have an independent trade policy,” commented Anne-Marie Trevelyan.

The Guardian continue the thread. “The thinking is that if we make no effort then we will have an excuse for having done so badly. But it is seriously embarrassing,” says one Tory MEP following private polling that puts the Conservatives on 10%. They could come 6th. The situation is “absolutely dire” says a CCHQ source.

Impressively for Nigel Farage, three in five Conservative Party members intend to vote for the Brexit Party, which means activists on the ground are few and far between. Besides, they have nothing to offer voters. The leaflet makes that plain.

Things are no less chaotic in Westminster. The Telegraph confirms the prime minister is seriously considering indicative votes to get MPs to form a consensus around some twisted form of EU withdrawal or other – whatever it is, we won’t be able to call it leaving.

Very un-British plans are being put together to get MPs to rank their preferred choices in a transferable vote type system, whereby votes are reallocated until one single option reaches a majority.

One cabinet minister wryly observes such a daft system will lead to an Auf Wiedersehen Pet type situation. In one episode, the characters can’t agree on which colour to paint the shed. Eventually, it gets painted yellow, even though no-one wanted it as their first choice.

There was the talk of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill getting tabled next week, that now looks unlikely. The European elections are the week after, even less likely. This story is going to run and run.

What a surprise.