The Default Position
Posted on March 19th, 2019
by Rab Bruce’s Spider
With the countdown to Brexit now being measured in days, things are as unclear as ever despite the dramatic events yesterday. John Bercow’s decision to block a third vote on Theresa May’s deal unless she brings back something that is materially different has thrown everything into even more confusion.
It raises a number of questions, not least of which is why Scotland’s fate is being determined, not by a bunch of dinosaur deniers from Northern Ireland, but why a precedent from 1604, before the act of Union? Whether you agree that the Speaker has made the correct decision or not, it seems absurd that the unwritten constitution of one nation can be applied to all the countries of the united Kingdom. If nothing else, this does at least confirm what many have been saying – that Westminster is England’s Parliament; it is not the Parliament of a truly united kingdom.
As to what effect it will have, that still remains in doubt. The default position is still that the UK will crash out of the EU without a deal on 29th March. Or, at least, that is the position at time of writing this. Who knows what will have happened by the time you read it?
May’s choices now seem to be (1) to ask for an extension to Article 50, (2) to revoke Article 50, or (3) to go ahead with crashing out on 29th March.
The EU have already said that they are not inclined to grant an extension unless there is a specific reason for it. A General Election might count, as would a decision to hold a second Referendum, but neither of those things seems high on the Tories’ agenda at the moment.
As for revoking Article 50, Theresa May has shown such stubbornness over the past couple of years, it’s hard to see her doing this at such a late stage, especially as the new tax avoidance laws will come into effect very soon, thus creating huge problems for lots of Tories and Tory Party donors if the UK remains part of the EU.
Which puts us back with the default option of a disastrous crash out. John Bercow may have saved us the unedifying spectacle of MPs changing their minds as a result of being offered bribes of one sort or another, but his decision hasn’t altered the countdown to catastrophe. Theresa May is the only one who can do that, and she shows no signs of doing so.
So Nicola Sturgeon will need to implement whatever plan she has pretty soon. I really do hope it’s a good one.