The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 7th December 2018

May in office but not in power

by New Worker correspondent

THERESA May’s government is on the brink of collapse. Jeremy Corbyn says Mrs May was now “in office but not in power” following three defeats in parliament this week. Nigel Farage has resigned from UKIP in protest at the elevation, by the party he helped set up, of Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, a racist bigot who calls himself ‘Tommy Robinson’. And Labour will move a no confidence vote in the House of Commons next week if the Brexit deal is defeated in a bid to trigger a general election.

For the first time in modern parliamentary history ministers were held in contempt of parliamentary procedure for trying to withhold the full legal advice provided by the Attorney General regarding Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

Labour and the other opposition parties, backed by the Democratic Unionists (DUP) and other Tory rebels, forced the Government to reveal the legal advice it had received on Brexit, held the Government in contempt of parliament for refusing to release it in the first place and then passed an amendment by Tory Remainer Dominic Grieve giving MPs a greater say in Brexit if the Mrs May’s plan is defeated next week.

Tory loyalists say that the full legal advice adds little to the summary the Government published on Monday. But it did reveal that there was no provision, under the terms agreed with the European Union, for Britain to lawfully exit the proposed UK-wide customs union without a subsequent agreement. It suggested that Britain could be trapped “indefinitely” in a customs union with the EU in the future and that Britain would essentially be treated as a third country by northern Ireland for goods passing through the UK to northern Ireland. This has predictably enraged Mrs May’s former DUP allies who fear this is the thin end of the wedge that leads to the end of partition.

Some Tory Brexiteers think Mrs May’s deal is rubbish. Others fear that giving the Commons the final say next week could lead to the end of Brexit altogether. Liam Fox, the international trade minister said: “There is… a real danger that the House of Commons, which has a natural Remain majority, may attempt to steal Brexit from the British people. That would be a democratic affront,” Fox told a parliamentary committee. Some Tory Eurosceptics are clearly prepared to vote with the opposition to reject the agreement while a number of hard-line Tory Europhiles seem ready to join them in the hope that this will speed the day to a snap election and the return of a Labour minority government, reliant on support from the Scottish nationalists and Liberal Democrats, that will agree to a second referendum that the Remainers believe can now be won.

The Prime Minister claims that her deal “takes back control of our borders, laws and money” and that it’s the best Britain is ever going to get from Brussels. But within the Westminster bubble most pundits are predicting a humiliating defeat for Mrs May when the vote is taken next Tuesday. We’re then in uncharted waters.

If Mrs May loses the vote her premiership is over. Whether the DUP and the Tory rebels would go so far as to join the opposition in supporting the no-confidence votes needed to force an early election is unclear. In any case a defeat would almost certainly trigger a Tory leadership challenge. Mrs May, who is a Remainer at heart, could simply resign to pave the way for a snap election in February. But who knows what has been discussed with the opposition under Privy Council rules?e’s Vote” - on the basis that if there is no consensus in parliament on what comes next, the question has to go back to the people.