The Tories have long adopted a tactic of abandoning votes they fear they will lose – and they look to repeat the manoeuvre, this time in the most scandalous and despicable of circumstances.
The government has frequently opted to avoid the appearance of defeat by not even trying to win votes including, to their historic and eternal shame, the vote on the release of their legal advice on Theresa May’s Brexit deal. By subsequently attempting to simply ignore the result, May led her government into ignominy as it became the first in UK history to be found in contempt of Parliament.
May expects to lose the vote catastrophically next week, when she seeks MPs’ approval for her dismal withdrawal deal with the EU and has been weighing up the possibility of simply hiding again. But this time, rather than not vote and therefore lose, she is contemplating a more complete cowardice – by not even putting the deal to Parliament at all.
By doing this, she hopes to pacify the Tories’ own hard right and the DUP long enough to gain time for a desperate attempt to persuade the EU to agree to remove the Northern Irish ‘backstop‘, which would create an Irish Sea border, before she brings a revised deal to Parliament.
The EU has been making noises about the possibility of ‘minor’ amendments – but the removal of measures to protect the Good Friday Agreement and the economy of the Irish Republic are anything but minor.
But May cannot contemplate a sudden announcement that she is abandoning the vote, especially after telling the country ad nauseam that her deal was the final and only option.
So the Tories have been edging toward the prospect and away again, but a little nearer each time – and each time briefing the media to say ‘it’s not going to happen, but it just might‘, with the ‘might’ becoming a little more concrete each time.
Sky’s Beth Rigby, for example, told the country at 3.06pm:
Yet not even fifty minutes later, the story was already metamorphosing a little closer to its likely final form:
May’s cowardice is more than deep enough to allow her to embrace the humiliation of running away from the vote – but her media consultants and the mainstream media are already softening the public up to minimise the blow.
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