Mailvox: behind the Brexit theatrics

An update on the latest from our Brexit insider:

UK Attorney General Geoffrey Cox has issued his latest legal guidance on the documents that Theresa May brought back from Strasbourg last night. The legal risk remains unchanged. As expected, Theresa May simply continued her ‘failure theatre’.

There is no method for Britain to exit from the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement unilaterally if there are simply “intractable differences” between Britain and the EU. Since the reason that we are leaving the EU in the first place is due to “intractable differences”, of course those differences are not going to be resolved in the matter of the Irish Border. The Attorney general said the “legal risk remains unchanged” and the “fundamental circumstances remained the same”

Theresa May was attempting to obtain something that would allow Geoffrey Cox to change his advice and recommend the approval of the Withdrawal Agreement, using some sort of codicil, which was given the name ‘Cox’s Codpiece’. The Attorney General was adamant that everything within his codpiece should be in good working order.

Britain can still use the 1970 Treaty of Vienna to cancel any international agreement, regardless of whether that agreement includes a exit clause. Remember that the most fundamental principle of English constitutional law is that no parliament may bind a future parliament.

The Labour Party’s finance spokesman, effectively the #2 guy in the party, said yesterday that the priority is to defeat the government. The Northern Ireland Democratic Unionist Party, upon whom Theresa May depends for the existence of her government, said just now that they will vote against the Withdrawal Agreement. The European Research Group of Conservative Party Brexit supporters, led by Jacob Rees-Mogg will also vote against the Withdrawal Agreement.

So, my prediction is that this evening, Theresa May will be defeated by a similarly huge margin to her defeat in January.

The Labour Party could then legitimately call another ‘no confidence’ motion to dissolve the government, but that would not be successful. No one wants a general election. There is also no mechanism to involuntarily remove Theresa May prior to December 2019. She would have to be persuaded to step down, and there is no indication that she would agree. Fortunately, complete paralysis is a good situation at the moment because the legal default position is ‘no deal’.

During the vote Withdrawal Agreement in the House of Commons tonight, Brexit supporters will move an amendment to rule out a second referendum. This is calling the bluff of the ‘People’s Vote’ campaign, who decided not to move an amendment to have a second referendum. They decided this because there simply isn’t the support in the Commons for another vote. It is likely that Theresa May will support the ruling out of a second referendum because that has always been her position.

This is a clear indication that the Remain supporters know that their position is weakening. National opinion polling has ‘no deal’ at 44{e08cad746da4649304cc119361c7d8e2ee7ced73b617f6c7db2262986ac851da} and ‘remain’ at 30{e08cad746da4649304cc119361c7d8e2ee7ced73b617f6c7db2262986ac851da}, with presumably a large slice of ‘don’t know’ in the middle. Almost no one wants Theresa May’s deal.

Although Theresa May cancelled the votes on ‘no deal’ and ‘delay’ scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday respectively, I suspect these votes will nevertheless happen. The House of Commons will reject the concept of ‘no deal’ and ask for a delay. The EU will then refuse an extension because the UK doesn’t have a plan to achieve agreement to the Withdrawal Agreement, and therefore we will have ‘no deal’. The House of Commons just doesn’t want to be the ones that actually choose ‘no deal’.

UPDATE: 14 MPs have switched sides to support Brexit in our time!

Sky News: 14 MPs have switched sides and will vote for Theresa May’s deal. She now just needs to persuade another 102 MPs to change their opinion to get her deal approved. i.e. She still needs a miracle. The atmosphere in the chamber is being described as “funereal”. The last rites of the Conservative Party.

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