The Internal Market Bill passed Second Reading last night by 77 votes.
I couldn’t listen to all of the debate – I was working yesterday, having decided to take off Wednesday and Thursday as usual – for PMQs (Keir Starmer will be absent: he is self-isolating as one of his household has shown symptoms of coronavirus) and because Wednesday is the second day of the committee of the whole House examining the bill.
But I listened to enough of the debate, including Boris Johnson’s opening statement presenting the bill (and Ed Miliband’s strong rebuttal – Starmer picked him to sub in, and I have to say, he was terrific) to see very definitely two things.
EU Referendum Results Map
Last week, I wrote and posted a series about the four possible directions the UK can go from where we are.
- First, hard Brexit, which is catastrophic;
- second, soft Brexit, which is several different flavours of disaster;
- third, re-running the EU referendum, which would be expensive, time-consuming, and wouldn’t necessarily stop Brexit;
- fourth, Parliament voting to revoke the invocation of Article 50, which means an unprecedented rebellion of MPs in both Opposition and Government with unpredictable consequences.
From a worm’s-eye perspective, the fourth option is least-worst: but the people most likely to face negative consequences for carrying it out and saving the UK from catastrophe or disaster, are the same MPs who would have to vote for it.
And regardless of how bad it is for us in the lower income bands, MPs are all in the top ten percent by income just from their salary: they have a generous expenses system, heavily subsidised food and drink at work, complete job security until the next general election, and a nice golden parachute even if they lose their seats then: they will not directly suffer from the economic disaster of soft Brexit, and though the catastrophe of hard Brexit might hit them, they’re better insulated against it than most.
In fairness, Theresa May never said what would happen if she lost 13 seats.
But here we are.
The Conservative Party has 317 seats in the House of Commons: even allowing for the 7 Sinn Féin MPs who never take their seats, the Tories are five seats short of a majority.
Labour, the SNP, the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, and the Green Party, have between them got 314 seats.