BREXIT UPDATE 24: THE MAYBOT’S NEW STATEMENT
Last night (Saturday April 6), the Maybot issued a new statement, justifying her decision to talk to Corbyn about the way forward. The statement is reproduced below – together with (right at the end of this piece) an informal, conversational version of the speech that was posted as a video on social media this afternoon (April 7). The main points are:
1) She finally admits that her deal “was rejected three times by Parliament and there is no sign it can be passed in the near future”. However, the last words suggest that she is still determined it will be passed in the end, however long it takes.
2) She finally rules out No Deal, saying that Parliament will not allow this to happen. She says the “stark choice” now is between leaving with a deal and “not leaving at all” – ie No Brexit.
3) She says that, as she has realised she cannot secure a majority among Conservative and DUP MPs, she had “no choice but to reach out across the House of Commons” to Labour. This seems to indicate that her offer was at least partly a genuine one. She had finally realised that she had run out of options and turned to Corbyn in desperation. However, she still seems to retain the hope that, with the threat of No Brexit — or a “soft” Labour Brexit, involving a customs union and close alignment with the Single Market — she can blackmail recalcitrant Tory Brexiteers into accepting her deal; so the offer to Labour seems to be partly genuine, partly calculated. She may be intending to bring back her deal in the coming week – possibly, as I suggested in Brexit Update 23, on Tuesday, as part of a series of parliamentary indicative votes that she may agree with Corbyn if – as seems likely – the two leaders acknowledge that talks on a way forward have broken down.
4) She has finally abandoned her claims, made in various previous speeches (such as her Grimsby speech; see Brexit Update 10) that Corbyn is betraying Brexit and supports as first choice a second referendum. She now says: “On Brexit, there are areas where the two main parties agree: we both want to end free movement, we both want to leave with a good deal, and we both want to protect jobs.”
5) She says that she will “go to Brussels this week to seek a short extension to Article 50”. If by this she means the June 30 extension that she asked for in her letter to Donald Tusk, it is highly unlikely that the EU Council will agree to this date, which it rejected last time. But by adding “my intention is to reach an agreement with my fellow EU leaders that will mean if we can agree a deal here at home we can leave the EU in just six weeks”, she seems to be putting forward a date that would come just before the European elections on May 23 – thus, she hopes, enabling the government to cancel preparations for these elections. This seems to be a last, desperate throw of the dice by the Maybot to try to persuade Parliament to agree to a deal that will avoid participation in the European Parliament elections.
6) She ends with one of her favourite programmed phrases: “the brighter future”.
Meanwhile, there still doesn’t seem to be any progress in her talks with the Labour party leadership. Yesterday, Corbyn said he was “waiting to see the red lines move” and had not noticed “any great change in the government’s position”.
As for the Tory Brexiteers, instead of appearing to be ready to succumb to her blackmailing threat of No Brexit, they seem to be increasingly in revolt against her. In an article published today in the Mail on Sunday (the Sunday edition of the Tory right-wing tabloid The Daily Mail), Dominic Raab (a front-runner to succeed her and one of her former Brexit Secretaries — as he writes, he resigned over the backstop), warns that “there is now a danger that Brexit could be lost and the government could fall – handing the keys to Downing Street to Corbyn”. There could be open insurrection if the right wing of the Tory Party finds the UK faced with a long extension and participation in the European Parliament elections.
Struggling as she is with the conflicting demands of the Labour Party, the Tory Brexiteers and the EU leaders, it is difficult to see how the Maybot, with all her survival skills, can carry on much longer as Prime Minister. Whatever happens, this coming week, with the emergency European Council summit on Wednesday and the new cliff-edge leaving date on Friday, looks like being crunch week.
THE MAYBOT’S APRIL 6 STATEMENT
Delivering Brexit has been my priority ever since I became Prime Minister and it remains so today. I want the UK to leave the EU in an orderly way as soon as possible and that means leaving in a way that does not disrupt people’s lives.
My strong preference was to do that by winning a majority in Parliament for the agreement the UK reached with the EU last November. I did everything in my power to persuade the Conservative and DUP MPs who form the government’s majority to back that deal – including securing legally-binding changes to address MPs’ concerns with it.
But that deal was rejected three times by Parliament and there is no sign it can be passed in the near future. So I had to take a new approach.
Because Parliament has made clear it will stop the UK leaving without a deal, we now have a stark choice: leave the European Union with a deal or do not leave at all.
My answer to that is clear: we must deliver Brexit and to do so we must agree a deal. If we cannot secure a majority among Conservative and DUP MPs we have no choice but to reach out across the House of Commons.
The referendum was not fought along party lines and people I speak to on the doorstep tell me they expect their politicians to work together when the national interest demands it. The fact is that on Brexit there are areas where the two main parties agree: we both want to end free movement, we both want to leave with a good deal, and we both want to protect jobs.
That is the basis for a compromise that can win a majority in Parliament and winning that majority is the only way to deliver Brexit.
The longer this takes, the greater the risk of the UK never leaving at all. It would mean letting the Brexit the British people voted for slip through our fingers. I will not stand for that. It is essential we deliver what people voted for and to do that we need to get a deal over the line.
To achieve this I will go to Brussels this week to seek a short extension to Article 50. My intention is to reach an agreement with my fellow EU leaders that will mean if we can agree a deal here at home we can leave the EU in just six weeks.
We can then get on with building a new relationship with our nearest neighbours that will unlock the full potential of Brexit and deliver the brighter future that the British people voted for.
On Sunday afternoon, the Maybot posted on social media a video in which she addresses the nation from a sofa at the Prime Minister’s country home, Chequers: she tries her best to look relaxed but doesn’t really succeed. Her statement here is an informal version of the speech released on Saturday night: