We are on the brink of the greatest exercise of democracy in the history of our nation, the vote to leave the European Union taken on 23rd June 2016, being overturned. More people voted for Brexit than for anything in British history ever. Yet Prime Minister Theresa May has set forth proposals in her White Paper which experts agree will make Brexit happen in name only; indeed, we will have to follow almost all of the same rules as being in the EU forevermore with no real ability to take back control of our laws, our money, our borders — the very basis of the campaign to leave. To make this worse, her proposals go against all the red lines which she has repeatedly and so eloquently argued for in her landmark speeches.
The extent of May’s treachery and scheming is quite breath-taking and extensive, but here is a very brief summary: she secretly planned for this Brexit In Name Only (BRINO) for a year working to undermine her own publicly stated policy and red lines; she has determinedly undermined her colleagues especially the (now former) Brexit Secretary David Davis; she has threatened her MPs and the public with no Brexit at all if her new plans aren’t followed; she has conceded everything to the EU at all stages with nothing in return; she cleared her new plan with German Chancellor Angela Merkel before showing it to her Cabinet and has subsequently said that the plan cannot be changed as Merkel has already approved it.
Even staunchly loyal MPs, such as Jacob Rees-Mogg, are now openly in revolt. It is clear that May has doubled down on her new plan and will not yield. Therefore, the only solution is to remove her as Conservative Party leader. But how would this work?
- First, 15% of the Parliamentary Party (that’s 48 Tory MPs) would have to submit a letter of no confidence to the Chairman of the 1922 Committee, Graham Brady.
- If this occurs, a secret ballot will take place where Tory MPs will either support or oppose Theresa May’s leadership; she only needs to get a simple majority of MPs voting in support. This would be 159 MPs (if all Tory MPs vote).
- If she wins, she is untouchable for a year, and Brexit is finished.
- If she loses, a new leadership election is held in which she cannot stand.
- All candidates are voted on by the Tory MPs, the lowest ranked candidate being eliminated round-by-round until only two candidates remain; these two candidates will be put to the party membership to determine who will be next Conservative Party leader.
However, the quandary that pro-Brexit Tory MPs, and pro-Remain Tories who realise that May is electoral poison, find themselves in is this: do they really have the support the oust May? Very possibly, but perhaps probably not; after all, only a minority of Tory MPs are pro-Brexit, and pro-Remain Tories are likelier to wait until after this Remain-in-all-but-name deal is signed off on and then stick the knife in. In which case, all is lost. Therefore, some Tories wish to wait until after the Parliamentary Summer recess as they feel a vote against May is more likely to succeed then. Why? Because the EU will by then have, so it is claimed, rejected May’s proposals, thereby strengthening resolve against her.
For those who want Brexit to happen, indeed, for those who care about democracy at all (the idea that the people have power, a vote is held, and then the outcome of the vote is carried out), it is imperative that the intransigent May is removed from office. However, short of her death, the only way for this to happen is in a vote of no confidence, a vote she is perhaps likely to win. Our only hope is that a peculiar alliance of Tory careerism, principled Brexiteers, and Labour MPs helping to vote down May’s proposals, will effectively combine to save Brexit. That would be an occurrence as rare and miraculous as the vote to leave the European Union itself.
© 2018 Bryan A. J. Parry
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