Yes, I know it’s a Bank Holiday and you should be having a nice relaxing day in the sunshine forgetting all about Brexit. But it has been a rather momentous week, so it is time for an update.
The first thing to say is that Mrs May completely fooled me. This time last week I was saying she was going to be vague about her timetable for resignation. Then she only goes and does something that I was unable to predict. She did, as I said, bring back her deal. But I had no idea that she would tinker with it to such an extent that it would alienate the opposition and most of her loyal supporters at the same time. It takes a special skill to be able to do that.
However, people with such skills are not in demand and so she had to go. The country “that I love” doesn’t love her.
Sadly, though, there is no evidence that the country loves any of the alternatives. Boris has his fans, but he’ll soon be on his bike as MPs will not want to put his name forward to the party. Then we’ve got Jeremy Hunt, who single-handedly managed to ruin the health service. Or what about Michael Gove, whose tinkering with education has meant that schools and universities are still in the midst of clearing up his mess. Perhaps, instead, people will choose Dominic Raab who when he was Brexit Secretary said he had no idea that the Port of Dover was so important to Britain.
Whoever is chosen by the Tories won’t matter. The only deal on offer by the EU will not be renegotiated; they have said so umpteen times. The hard-line Brexiteers won’t support it anyway, but Parliament will not agree to “no-deal”. So, in spite of getting a new leader, we’ll be in exactly the same position we have been in for the past three years: stalemate.
Meanwhile, Nigel Farage is riding high this morning acting like he has been made King. His Brexit Party came top of the polls in the EU election. Yet this man (described by one Guardian writer as “the tapeworm of British politics”) doesn’t seem to notice that around 60% of the votes in the EU election went to “remain” party candidates.
The Brexit Party leader told us weeks ago that the EU election would be the “second referendum” so many had called for. Well, Nigel, you have your “referendum” and in spite of only making minor increases in the UKIP vote from five years ago, the public has voted in favour of “remain” by a larger majority than the “leave” vote got in the actual referendum in 2016.
So what will happen from here? Labour is in turmoil, with Tom Watson and Emily Thornberry now saying the party should campaign to remain. The Tories will spend the next two months tossing and turning over who will lead them (probably into oblivion). Change UK will realise that with so few votes they won’t be able to change anything. The Scottish Nationals will press for a split with the UK (which on current polls they would easily win).
If you take all that into account, we end up where we were three years ago. Labour arguing with itself. The Conservative Party focusing on itself. The centre parties being unable to do anything because of parliamentary arithmetic. And Scotland wanting to get rid of its tiresome and argumentative sibling.
And I thought Groundhog Day was just a movie. I didn’t realise it was a documentary about life in Britain.