Wednesday, 3 April 2019

It's still Plan A

The entire cabinet was given an hour’s detention yesterday after agreeing to something (although on the basis of past experience they probably didn’t know what they’d agreed to) so that they couldn’t get their usual blow-by-blow accounts of the meeting into the public domain through ‘briefings’ and whispers before the headmistress had given hers.  When the vegetables eventually found out what they’d agreed to, it was too late to change it.
The statement which she eventually made after the marathon cabinet meeting yesterday has been widely interpreted as representing a significant change in her position (for example, this, from the BBC); some sort of Plan B.  But it looks more like a repackaged Plan A to me.
The core elements are:
·        Meet Jeremy Corbyn to ‘consult’ over possible alternative options give him another lecture on why her plan is the only one available
·        Ask the EU for a short extension which takes us past the point of no return for participating in the Euro elections, and makes any longer extension legally impossible
·        Attempt to bully her own party into line by threatening the extremists with a softer Brexit
·        Attempt to cajole a few more Labour MPs into supporting her by threatening a no-deal Brexit
·        Run down the clock until the new ‘final’ date when the alternative becomes her deal or no deal (without participating in the elections, the right to unilateral revocation would have to have been taken off the table by any grant of an extension by the EU)
·        Resign as soon as she gets her deal through, leaving one of her party’s extreme Brexiteers to take over and tear up whatever agreement she’s managed to reach with the EU and/or the Labour Party
In what way, exactly, is that any different from what she has done to date?  It doesn’t take no deal off the table; indeed, it makes it more likely unless Labour agree to support her plan.  Why else would the Brexiteers in her cabinet have supported her?  Labour MPs would have to be certifiable to trust a single word she says given her history (although sadly that’s about the most credible aspect of her plan).  Hopefully, the EU will show the same wisdom and patience that they showed last time she asked for an extension and offer only a lengthy one (with the option of reducing it in the event of agreement being reached sooner) on condition of participating in the elections.  It is surely clear by now that a rushed decision will be a bad decision, and that the UK needs more time to find a proper consensus plan going forward rather than one achieved by bullying under the pressure of the clock.

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