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Friday 11 January 2018

Less than a week until Theresa May’s dreadful deal with Brussels finally gets voted on. “We’re going to get smashed” a government insider tells the BBC.

Westmonster reported yesterday that May has lost a further nineteen presumed backers of her withdrawal agreement. According to Politico, a measly two have been clawed back, but don’t be surprised if, come Tuesday’s vote, the margin of defeat is greater than the projected 433 to 206 split following yesterday’s letter to the grassroots from two of Britain’s former security chiefs.

Former head of MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove and Lord Guthrie, previously chief of the defence staff have targeted Conservative association chairmen, telling them: “Buried in this Agreement is the offer of a ‘new, deep and special relationship’ with the EU in defence, security and intelligence which cuts across the three fundamentals of our national security policy: membership of NATO, our close bilateral defence and intelligence relationship with the USA and the Five Eyes intelligence alliance.”

“Please ensure that your MP votes against this bad agreement and supports a sovereign Brexit on WTO rules, without payment of ransom,” they sign off. Smashed indeed.

May is getting desperate. The prime minister is now venturing into the left to pick up much-needed votes, but how many will she haemorrhage from her own MPs in the process? “I want to move to the left as little as possible, thank you very much,” a Cabinet minister told the Telegraph, although their reasoning is that Tory MPs should back the existing deal before it gets adulterated by the Labour. Nice try.

Mrs May appears to be taking up the offer of a planned Labour amendment to the motion on the deal at the second time of asking which will commit the government to the EU’s job-destroying environmental policies.

According to the Guardian, Downing Street officials held a meeting with the group of Labour MPs behind the initiative and encouraged them to draft the amendment that would also seek assurances on workers’ rights, which the government would then consider accepting.

May has met with Unite general secretary Len McCluskey and his counterpart at GMB, Tim Roache this week. McCluskey is a Corbyn ally and against a second referendum, but that doesn’t make him a useful asset to May and her plan. He is keen on keeping channels with Downing Street “open”, no prizes for guessing who is going to be playing whom.

The prime minister’s charm offensive with the left is a fool’s errand. Most Labour MPs want a second referendum and will therefore not be backing her deal under any circumstances. Those on the front bench not in favour of a so-called people’s vote want a general election. Only a tiny minority of MPs, John Mann, Caroline Flint and at most 20 others backing the workers’ rights amendment fit into this latter category May is trying to appeal to. She needs more than 100 votes, what good will 20 do other than to further weaken her position within her own party?

And we emphasise, 20 at most. Even MPs like Mann who have long campaigned to get out of the EU struggle to accept the truly dreadful terms of the arrangement made with Brussels. Kate Hoey has been one of the its most effective lambasters.

Speaking of Brussels, it is worth noting the EU is said to be watching movements in Westminster closely and is also paranoid about Britain deregulating to the nth degree (employment and environmental regulations would be targeted first). It seems the prime minister is making these moves out in the open to soften up her negotiating partners for a “better” deal once this one is dismissed in four days’ time.

Quote of the day: “The EU’s triple lock guarantee is so constructed that never again will Brussels be troubled by an explosion of democracy in the United Kingdom. Project Fear has been in overdrive since the Withdrawal Agreement was published, with spin, misrepresentation and blatant untruths deployed to sell it to a rightly suspicious nation.”

An anonymous Civil Servant writing for Brexit Central.