From the Daily Mail front page to calls for deselection, the response to Wednesday’s vote shows that hardline Leavers are rattled. This is whyby Alex Dean / December 15, 2017 / Leave a comment
On Wednesday, Theresa May’s government suffered its first defeat in the Commons, on an amendment to the Brexit withdrawal legislation. Parliament will now in effect be given a “meaningful vote” on any final Brexit deal the government eventually returns with from Brussels, before it is ratified. The fury the next day was grimly predictable, most of it directed at Conservative MPs who had defied the party line, and who stood accused of trying to undo the result of the referendum. “Proud of yourselves?” asked the Daily Mail, under pictures of the offending MPs. The similarities with the Telegraph‘s “Sabateurs” front page a few months ago were obvious. This is the humiliating fate that awaits anyone caught subverting “the will of the people.” It wasn’t just the papers; prominent Conservative commentator Tim Montgomerie called for the rebel Tories to be deselected. Nadine Dorries, currently a sitting MP herself, joined him. The anger failed to dissipate as the day went on and come 10pm, Isabel Oakeshott was attacking “sanctimonious” Remainers on Question Time, and making the case that in voting to give themselves a say, MPs were trying to undermine the principle of democracy.
Tonight, the Tory rebels have put a spring in Labours step, given them a taste of winning, guaranteed the party a weekend of bad press, undermined the PM and devalued her impact in Brussels. They should be deselected and never allowed to stand as a Tory MP, ever again.
— Nadine Dorries (@NadineDorries) December 13, 2017
This doesn’t really hold water. The rebels, for their part, insist they are not trying to undo Brexit at all.
As Dominic Grieve, who tabled the relevant amendment, went to pains to explain on Newsnight immediately after the vote, this was, for him, a procedural matter.
Parliament had been sidelined throughout the Brexit process, and it was high time this great institution reclaimed its rightful place at the centre of British politics. This line of thinking is reasonable and deserves a fair hearing. But whether some Remainer MPs were trying to thwart Brexit or not, there’s something else worth discussing here: the deeply unpleasant tone of the political debate. The sheer intolerance in the Brexit camp for anyone of an opposing view.
— Ole Ryborg (@OleRyborg) December 14, 2017
Consider the following: Leavers won the vote in June 2016. Theresa May has triggered Article 50. We are, barring a most unlikely upset, on the way out. So even if Wednesday’s vote represented a setback, why are Leavers so angry? This is perhaps the most important question to come out of the past few days in British politics: why is it all…