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Nigel Hastilow: Voters just want Brexit resolved

By Nigel Hastilow | Nigel Hastilow | Published:

Because Tory MPs were denied a ‘meaningful vote’ in Parliament on Brexit, they decided to have a meaningless one instead.

Theresa May overcame an attempt to remove her

Theresa May bottled out of a showdown on her Brexit deal because she knew she would lose. She promised to go back to the EU and ask for more. But it was enough to provoke Tory MPs into their attempted coup.

But we all knew Mrs May would survive a vote of confidence in her leadership of the party.

We all knew there would be plenty of Conservative MPs wanting to get rid of her.

We all knew she couldn’t possibly lead them into the next General Election.

The leadership vote tells us nothing and solves nothing.

If the Conservatives were going to get someone new to negotiate Brexit, they should have ousted her more than a year ago, after the disastrous General Election and her party conference debacle.

Now they’re stuck with her. And, curiously, her weakness is her strength. Mrs May’s deal may be deeply flawed but our MPs can’t agree on a better idea.

Some want a no-deal Brexit, some want to follow Norway into a form of servitude to the EU and many more want a second referendum to defeat Brexit altogether.

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Rabble

But not one of these options has the support of a clear majority of MPs.

The fact is Mrs May is the only politician to have any viable plan at all.

Loyalty was once said to be the Conservative Party’s secret weapon. However unhappy its members might be, they would rally round their leader in a crisis.

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If that was ever true, it certainly isn’t now. The Prime Minister cannot rely on the rabble who are supposedly on her side, let alone expect support from the Ulster Unionists.

In theory, now Mrs May’s leadership cannot be challenged for 12 months, her opponents should accept defeat and support her.

They had their chance to oust her and, no matter how they try to spin the result, they failed. They should grit their teeth and accept her Brexit deal is the only viable option.

But they won’t.

Sacking

On one side, she faces demented Euro-fanatics like the bitter and twisted Anna Soubry, who will never forgive Mrs May for sacking her as a Minister.

On the other, the hard-core Brexiteers led by the millionaire Minister for the 18th century, Jacob Rees-Mogg, who demand a clean break with the EU.

Neither group is prepared to compromise and the leadership vote seems to have made absolutely no difference.

And they are deaf to calls for party unity, loyalty and even to the fact that the voters are sick of the whole thing and just want some sort of deal which would resolve the issue.

The one Mrs May has negotiated is seriously flawed. It is a half-in, half-out Brexit which is not what the country really voted for.

But if politics is the art of the possible, Mrs May’s deal at least has the merit that it seems to be workable.

It leaves everyone dissatisfied but that may not be such a bad thing – at least it’s an exit of some sort and, if she were able to carry the day, Britain would be all the better for it. The longer this drags on, the more likely it is the chaos will start to damage the economy.

In her desperation, Mrs May is seeking reassurances from Brussels there will be an end to the Northern Ireland backstop.

But, given the chaos and confusion in the Conservative Party, it seems unlikely anything she secures will be good enough for her extremists.

Brexit has turned into a nightmare. Everyone outside Westminster just wants it to end. But it won’t.

There is a possibility we will reach Brexit Day on March 29 without any deal at all. This will be called ‘crashing out’ of the EU though, in reality, it is the best possible solution.

But the vast majority of MPs would vote to stop that happening.

That could make Mrs May’s deal more attractive, as it’s the only negotiated agreement on the table.

More likely, though, is that Parliament would vote to extend the Brexit deadline beyond March and beg Brussels for further negotiations.

Worse still, by this point the demands of the Remainers for a second referendum will become louder and louder.

The ‘People’s Vote’ campaign is not about democracy, it’s about defying democracy, a way to reverse the original referendum result.

Remainers don’t expect us to vote for Brexit twice and, as ‘good democrats’, they will accept the will of the people next time as long as we do what they want.

Mrs May asked MPs: ‘Does this House want to deliver Brexit?’

It’s a fair question and I fear the answer is no, it doesn’t. Not in any form.

Mrs May survived the vote on her leadership but all it means is her Premiership has lived to die another day.

Out of fashion

The Christmas party is getting complicated. It’s bad enough not knowing whether to kiss a colleague and, if so, should it be once (too intimate), twice (too formal) or three times (too French)?

Now, thanks to the Ted Baker affair, it’s no longer acceptable to hug anybody either. Ray Kelvin, founder of the fashion chain, has been accused of being far too intimate with his underlings because he wants to hug them.

As a result, the precious snowflakes who work for him have demanded an end to this behaviour and the man who created their jobs has suspended himself. It all adds up to a good excuse to avoid the agony of the office party altogether.

Counting costs

Builders, eh? They always take longer than they said they would, often because they’ve got two or three other jobs on the go at the same time.

And unless you tie them down very strictly, there’s every chance the costs will massively over-run the original estimate.

No doubt that’s why the Government decided Sir Terry Morgan, the bloke who over-ran Crossrail by a year and added over £2 billion to its cost, wasn’t the best choice to build the HS2 railway from London to civilisation.

The snag with this scheme – ‘the biggest infrastructure project in Europe’ as politicians keep telling us – is that we all know the builder’s estimate is a joke and the promised completion date is a work of fiction.

Two remainers

There’s supposed to be a homelessness crisis so why are a Labour MP and her son, who between them earn more than £120,000 a year, allowed to stay in a council house?

Kate Osamor and her son Ishmael share a house in Haringey, London.

That’s even though she gets £77,379 as an MP and he’s on £45,835 as her chief of staff – whatever that is supposed to mean.

Surely she and her son should do the decent thing and let someone who really needs a roof over their heads live in their £750,000 council house.

Nigel Hastilow

By Nigel Hastilow

Express & Star columnist

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