The Only Brexit Update You Need

What's up with Jeremy Corbyn's half-baked "no confidence" motion?

18 December 2018, 12:37pm

Jeremy Corbyn at a "Remain" event before the Brexit referendum (Tommy London / Alamy Stock Photo)

Lately, Brexit insiders have taken their ball and run so far off ahead of the public that they’ve stopped explaining anything. No one who isn’t a pro or a crank knows their EFTA from their ECHR.

Worse – Brexit itself is no longer just one story. It’s about six, all happening simultaneously, but in very different locations, with very different characters. Northern Ireland. Trade. The Tory Civil War. The Ultra-Remainers. The Labour Party. And whatever celebrity numb-nuts has piped up this week. It’s like solving a jigsaw that’s on fire over the phone.

This column is designed to be the antidote to that. The same questions. The big ones. Every week. Until we either figure it out or Britain falls into the sea. Short and dumb. The Arlene Foster of words.

What's Labour’s Latest Incoherence?

They are going to try for their own vote of No Confidence. But not a proper one. A cowardly one.

Corbyn will table a motion of No Confidence. But – important point – not in the government, but in Theresa May herself. So, unlike a motion of No Confidence in the government, which would mean fresh elections, this one isn’t even required to be debated by Parliament. The government could say "no thanks", shrug and move on.

But Labour’s cunning plan is that: "If the government does not allow time for a debate itself, that shows it is scared of losing and that May does not have the confidence of the Commons." To which the government’s response will almost certainly be "yeah… we know". Of all the shards of molten flak presently tumbling down on the PM, this is like being savaged with a single moist towelette.

Is May More Toast Than She Was Last Week?

Not at all. But she is now officially medium-term toast.

Having seen off the Tory party’s internal No Confidence vote (by an unconvincing margin that meant 37 percent of her MPs voted against her) she now has immunity from being challenged for a year. But now at least six of her Cabinet and five of her backbenchers are permanently auditioning for her job.

Plus, if the deal flunks, there could still be a General Election within weeks, which would put us into the yes-even-more-uncharted territory of the Tories having to elect a new leader, and publicise them. Could she even quit in those circumstances?

Whatever Happened to That People’s Vote Thing?

They are bloody everywhere.

As the realistic solution gets ever more tangled, the drumbeat of the impossible only grows louder. Last week, some enterprising cabinet backroom boy deep within Number 10 ran it up the flagpole with the Sunday press. Even as Amber Rudd was publicly backing the PM in her No Confidence vote, she was slyly winking at the idea of a 2ndRef. Since then, May had to publicly rule out a second vote. But there are now two parallel realities – No Deal and 2ndRef – each hurtling towards their own, entirely unrelated, endgames.

What's the Numb-Nuts Celebrity Intervention of the Week ?

The England Football Class of 1990.

Gary Lineker’s Italia 90 World Cup comrade Chris Waddle thought he’d have a punt: "Well done Theresa May, now let’s leave Brexit with no deal we will be fine."

Next thing you know, Peter Shilton, England’s most-capped player, 1990 survivor, is mouthing off about how he has "been so impressed with @Jacob_Rees_Mogg @Conservatives @itvnews with interviews in the last few days".

A glory-boy like Waddle is one thing, but when men as gritty as Derby County’s ham-hands Shilton are diving in, you know we’ve reached saturation-point coverage. The Brexit singularity can only be weeks off.

Are We Going Back to the Semtex Years In Ireland?

Never, if Parliament backs the deal.

This week, after admitting that her Draft Agreement couldn’t make it through Parliament, May ended up back at EU headquarters, pleading for "more assurances" that we wouldn’t be yoked to the EU via the Irish Backstop forever. She was told to fuck off. EU insiders briefed that her request for these assurances was "nebulous", wishy-washy. In short, they played the classic French game of "I will pretend not to understand you so you will do things my way".

Within hours, she was caught on camera in a weird volatile exchange with EU Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker, where she seemed to be bollocking him about being called "nebulous", and he splayed his hands on her in a creepy, over-familiar way.

Anything Happening On Trade?

Switzerland has signed a trade deal with us.

We don’t yet have the details of the text, but it’s signed.

The Swiss also happen to be negotiating a new treaty with the EU at the same time, but that one has stalled because the Swiss were worried about Free Movement and cheap labour. So in the great breakup game of It Wasn’t Me, It Was Him, we’re now the sane ones, and Brussels are the Honestly He Was a Sociopath.