The BBC and other ‘MSM’ have been saying today that the government’s loss – by 309 votes to 305 – of the vote on Dominic Grieve’s amendment to the EU bill has been Theresa May’s ‘first such loss’.
Technically true, but disingenuous – May has suffered numerous defeats – but this is the first time she’s actually contested one of them. On previous occasions, she has beaten a cowardly retreat, whipping Tory MPs into not voting at all, rather than try to win and risk a loss. Losing by not fighting at all is presumably better in Tory minds than fighting and still losing
The amendment – which forces the government to give Parliament a vote on any Brexit deal before it is finalised – was one that she could not afford to lose, so she had no choice but to try to win.
And she failed, in spite of backseat offers and pleadings to Tory rebels – who clearly don’t trust their front bench to keep any promises to ‘listen’ or allow a ‘meaningful’ vote.
Normally, the Tories’ PR machine would already be busy claiming that the defeat somehow doesn’t matter – or wasn’t really a defeat because it’s very similar to what the government wanted to do anyway.
Not tonight. Dominic Raab made a token attempt to downplay the loss, but Tory commentators have been all over even BBC News, describing in horrified terms the scale of the setback. But more importantly, Theresa May has already lashed out at the rebels by sacking – very quickly after the defeat – one rebel who held a post he could be sacked from.
Stephen Hammond, who is no longer a vice-Chair of the Tory party.
The Tories are instead trying to spin the defeat by talking up the supposed betrayal of the party and of ‘leave’ voters by the MPs who rebelled for the sake of parliamentary sovereignty, as exemplified by Michael Fabricant:
But whatever the spin, one thing is clear – by lashing out so quickly to sack Hammond Theresa May has thrown away any possibility of pretence about the seriousness of the blow she has been dealt – this is clearly a disaster for her credibility and she is vengeful and shaken.
EU leaders were already sharpening their knives for the Tories after her supposed ‘deal’ last week was downgraded by Brexit Secretary David Davis to merely ‘a statement of intent‘.
May’s abject weakness was already obvious to them in the way that she caved in to every EU and DUP demand last week – but now there is blood in the water and the sharks will be circling at the EU summit about to begin.
And May clearly knows it.
The SKWAWKBOX needs your support. This blog is provided free of charge but depends on the generosity of its readers to be viable. If you can afford to, please click here to arrange a one-off or modest monthly donation via PayPal. Thanks for your solidarity so this blog can keep bringing you information the Establishment would prefer you not to know about.