OH DEAR

According to the BBC’s  Laura Kuenssberg, one government minister (unnamed) says that Mr Bercow is ‘breaking the constitution’ by stopping May calling yet another vote on her deal.

Given that there is no written constitution (Britain being too important to need one, obviously), and everything appears to be decided by custom and practice, and given that (not in this clip, but elsewhere) Channel Four news, a more reliable source than the BBC, dates this custom, or “convention” back to a time before the United Kingdom existed, 1604, I think that the unnamed government minister was probably wise to demand anonymity.

As the Speaker said, this is not his final ruling on the subject. Presumably, it will be for him and his team of legal and constitutional experts to say whether Mrs May’s proposals for the next “meaningful vote”  are sufficiently “substantially different” from those previously rejected twice, to be acceptable in custom. But it’s surely yet another humiliation for the Maybot that she even had to be told this.

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Either she is very badly advised by the legal people at No 10 or, and I suspect this is more likely, she stubbornly refuses to accept advice from anyone.

Even if a prime or first minister were very clever and had a good grounding in constitutional law, he or she would be ill-advised not to listen to learned advice. Mrs May who has neither of these attributes seems to be very foolish to trust her own and Philip’s judgement.

She also seems to have a very thick skin.

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I just saw this on Miguel’s timeline.

No policies, no plan to get us out of the horrific mess we are in what with Brexit and austerity.

But we bloody well HATE the SNP and that should be enough.

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IF ONLY MAYHEM THE MAYBOT HAD LISTENED TO DONNY THE DIPSTICK

We might have had a deal like he’s managed with China or North Korea…

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After all, he did “write” a book called “The Art of the Deal”, didn’t he?

[Note from Munguin: Well, no. He didn’t. According to Chapter 2 of “Fire and Fury” (Michael Wolff, 2018) the author claims that Trump’s co-author, Tony Schwartz said that Trump hardly wrote any of the book and it is doubtful if he’s even read it all!]

Seriously though, Trump wouldn’t have been out of place in the cast list of the Whitehall Farce that is Brexit, along with the other main cartoon characters:

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The porcine posh boy; the posh but tasteless haystack who never grew up; the vicar’s cornfield destroying daughter; the disgraced DOCTOR; the lazy tosser; the flocconaucinihilphilicating faux aristo; the drunken ashtray … and the orange knob.

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What a team!

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Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

Nothing has changed. As predicted.

The backstop is the backstop is the backstop.  Because legally it has to be. And no matter how you play the legal language, there is no way around it.

It is impossible to have a backstop that one side can walk away from without consultation. If there is no trade deal after December 2020, and that is, given the painfully slow progress of the current government in the withdrawal phase, more than likely, the backstop will have to come into force.

Interesting to note that last night the leadership of the DUP was consulted on the outcome of the talks. The first ministers Scotland and Wales were not. Almost like we didn’t matter.

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Make with the money, May!

So, how will they vote tonight?

Will the bribes of vast amounts of our money to Labour MPs’ constituencies in England work?

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Will the DUP be satisfied? If so, will Rees Mogg take his line from them, as he has said he would?

Will May still be prime minister this time next week?

How did we get into this almighty mess?

Erm, yeah, I think

How soon can we escape?

WAS MAY ALWAYS A LEAVER?

AND WOULD SHE PERSONALLY WELCOME A HARD BREXIT?

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Parlonsfrançais ; c’est une anglaise, elle nous ne comprendra pas.

I’ve recently read suggestions that Mrs May was always a Leaver.

However, as the Home Secretary in a government which stood for Remain, and given that it seemed unlikely that Leave would win, during the referendum campaign of 2016, she pretty much sat on the fence, making occasional, and rather reluctant, statements supporting the government’s Remain line.

Given that politicians rarely do anything actually totally principled, this line was presumably adopted in order that she could be seen as a contender for leadership when Remain won and Cameron eventually stood down in a UK which would still be inside the EU.

Aye, well, the best-laid plans o’ mice and men… and politicians, eh?

Leave won and Cameron, although he said he wouldn’t do, resigned the prime ministership, and then a few days later, although he said he wouldn’t do, he resigned his seat, bought his  £25,000 shed and disappeared in disgrace, into obscurity (hopefully forever).

So then a rag-tag of ridiculously inappropriate and underqualified people stood for the leadership and so, by default, the job of prime minister. She had to join them; this would be her last chance. Although she must have known that it was a thankless task.

Jeremy Corbyn notwithstanding, it was relatively unlikely that a Conservative party that had taken a Britain divided every which way could form a government once it was over and done. And who could guarantee that Corbyn wouldn’t be replaced by someone electable?

Anyone in the Conservative Party with even the slightest potential to be a ‘leader’ swerved what was going to be the job from hell. They say every political career ends in ignominy, but this one was going to be a bobby dazzler of an end. And so the line up was a load of also-rans. Particularly unfortunate when it could be argued that REAL leadership was needed in 2016 more than any time in the last 70 years.

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Wedding bells.

Fox, the already disgraced ex-minister, ex- leadership candidate, ex doctor,  with a history of outrageous expenses claims and a relationship with Adam Werrity which saw him give his unvetted young friend access to the MoD and highly confidential meetings at home and abroad, managed 16 votes).

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Meet me behind the bike sheds.

Crabbe, the hard-right Christian, anti-gay, who thought it appropriate to vote to reduce benefits for disabled people by £30 a week and who resigned his cabinet post after it was discovered that his Christian beliefs and marriage did not preclude his engaging in “inappropriate” texting to a young woman. (He later repeated this behaviour as a backbencher and so it wasn’t a one-off aberration.) Also, in the expenses scandal, it could be said that he used the system to maximum effect, spending our money to do up a place he went on to sell shortly thereafter, and transferring his second home allowance to his first home. He managed a whole 34 votes. Not as embarrassing as Foxy, but close!

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My wife wants to be prime mistress

Gove, the idiots’ idiot. Or maybe he’s just Sarah Vine’s idiot? He’s more a figure of fun than anything else, from his strange vocal delivery and mannerisms to his never-failing ability to put his foot in it. He too is a committed Christain, so committed in fact that he gave a copy of the King James bible to every school in England and Wales when he was their secretary of state for Education. His first act in government was to announce and publish a list of cost-cutting measures including stopping school building projects. Unfortunately when he announced this in the Commons with a flourish, it was still a work in progress and Govey ended up with egg on his face. To try to avoid personal criticism, he blamed the snafu on his Civil Servants! Good start to a ministerial career. In addidtion, he too had some rather dubious expenses, some of which he paid back. For all that he racked up 46 votes.

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Leadsom the fox hunter, was the candidate that you would have said was from the left field if she hadn’t been so right wing. I’d never heard of her, and when I heard her speak I felt I could understand why. To call her unimpressive would have been massively overrating her and a bit of an insult to the word “overrated”. She too, of course, had some skeletons in her cupboard including donations from a brother-in-law in Guernsey, which is abroad. She was accused of beefing up her pre-political CV full of senior jobs in finance. And not without reason. It was said that when she was “City Minister”  she was “seen by departmental officials as “a disaster”, “the worst minister we ever had. … She found it difficult to understand issues or take decisions. She was monomaniacal, seeing the EU as the source of every problem. She alienated officials by continually complaining about poor drafting.” In other words, she excused her thickness by blaming it on officials. Again, a seriously bad move.  And everything from the cost of champagne to Britain losing the Eurovision was the fault of Brussels! She managed to upset a lot of people by pointing out that May would be an inappropriate Prime Minister because she didn’t have any children. (Just imagine if a man had said that!) For all that she managed 84 votes on the second ballot and then withdrew before the members’ ballot leaving May the winner. (I have the distinction of being blocked by her on Twitter! It’s a bit like an OBE, but better.)

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It does seem so naughty doing this. Now let’s see when I get back to the office, I’ll shred all the files for the Windrush people and we’ll be able to refuse them medical treatment, and employment and then deport them (evil laugh!) 

May herself was, as I said, a useless candidate. She had a reputation for being anti-immigration, anti-foreigner and for being intransigent, unlikely to take advice from anyone but her husband and, as Ken Clarke said, “a bloody awkward woman”. As Home Secretary, she was responsible for a multitude of measures to make life more difficult for people from outwith the UK. Many of which had consequences that even a robotic operator like her should have been able to see. Making employers and landlords responsible for checking immigration status was bound to lead to anyone who looked even slightly foreign being refused accommodation or work. The “go home” vans and the destruction of Windrush papers were the tip of the iceberg.  And that’s before you start on other matters like the ‘mess’ she made of the sex abuse scandal. The shredding machines in the Home Office must have worked overtime on her watch.

She had told people (specifically her friend, Damien Greene, of the ‘porn at work’ scandal) when she was “up” at Oxford, that she wanted to be Prime Minister. Margaret Hilda was, at that time destroying the fabric of the country from her grace and favour in Downing Street, and it seems that May wanted to follow in her footsteps. (I mean did you hear the drivel on the steps of Downing Street? St Francis eat your heart out!)

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Everything about May points to her being anti-European. And the way that she has embraced the hard right ERG group and the DUP suggests that that is where her sympathies lie. Surely it didn’t escape her (or advisors’) notice that the Irish situation was fraught enough without her going into an expensive de facto coalition with an extreme BritNationalist party filled with a visceral hatred of “Catholic” Europe and with blood-red lines to prove it.

She has refused to work with Scotland and the majority in Northern Ireland to try to work out any kind of compromise, although it is clear from the Danish experience, that that could have been a possibility, and she seems to have no rapport at all with the more moderate members of her own party like Grieve, Soubry, Clarke and Heseltine, whom she actually sacked.

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I’m so sorry your magisterial magnificence. Next time I shall wear a wider skirt and I’ll be able to curtsey lower like the obedient Britannic subject I am.

She seems to have made no effort to soften the deal in any way and she has insisted that the bad deal that she made is the only deal and may be heading for failure in these last three weeks before we leave.  She’s shown no inclination to investigate the allegations of corruption and dark money allegedly associated with Leave Campaign and has insisted from day one that the tiny majority was the will of the British people.

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Sounds like a fanatic to me.

SAY CHEESE

OH…

I’ve got a suspicion that the talks didn’t go too well.

I suspect they heard the news that the Bank of England has said that damage to Britain’s economy from Brexit has increased. It has cut growth forecasts and held rates where they were.

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Alternatively, I suppose, someone might just have described Ross Thomson’s barroom activities to them.  Maybe her smile here is because she had her hands where the sun don’t shine, instead of the other way round.

Or maybe, horror of horrors, they heard that Gibraltar is, in fact, a colony.

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Whatever it was, for heaven’s sake don’t let them near the milk. They’ll sour it.

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YOU HAVE TO LAUGH

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I have to admit it, I’m a Twitter addict.

After Munguin’s Republic (to read your comments), it’s invariably the first thing I look at on the net.

On a regular basis, I see silly tweets from a wide variety of politicians, Scottish and otherwise. My favourites are, of course, the likes of Richard Leonard, demanding that the SNP take water back into public ownership, pay Glasgow council female employees fairly, or something equally embarrassing that Labour is failing to do in Wales or failed to do during their 13-year tenure in Downing Street, but that the SNP MUST do, and Labour would definitely do were it to ever gets its hands on power in Scotland.

Even sillier are tweets from the likes of Murdo Fraser about the Queen’s Eleven, almost certainly typed later on in the evening, if you get my drift!

There is no shortage of Tories making idiots of themselves on Twitter. Miles Briggs, Ross Thomson, Jackson Carlaw, to name but a few. And my favourite: Jamie Greene.

Today in true Greene style, Jamie hit out at the First Minister, who has been on business in the USA and Canada.

He accompanied this graphic (did he pay staff to do it, tut tut, or is he a wee whiz on the ‘puter himself?) with text that read…

“If Nicola Sturgeon wants to go to the US to talk about independence then the should pay for it. The Scottish taxpayer should not be left with a bill of thousands of pounds so that the First Minister can fly first class, grandstand and talk up .”

Now, the reason I mention this is not to highlight Jamie’s graphic or literary skills.

Rather, I wanted to show the utter pointlessness of this kind of tweet.

It raised a lot of interest, of that, no doubt. I counted roughly 200 replies and there may be more by now. And, of course, I didn’t read every one in detail, but from what I could see, not one single person was agreeing with Jamie. (I’ll take that back if someone finds a supportive tweet. As I say, I didn’t read every one.)

Now, given that one criticism of Twitter is that people tend to follow and be followed by,  people with roughly the same outlook and opinions, and given that Jamie is a Tory list MSP, you might expect that the bulk of his followers would be Conservatives or at least have Conservative leanings.

It seems, then, a bit strange that there is so little support for his tweet.

On the contrary, people have laid into this intervention with some interesting counter facts.

Firstly, of course, as various people pointed out, Nicola Sturgeon didn’t go to the USA to talk about independence, she went on a trade mission. That is a part of her job.

Any idiot could have found that out in any number of ways.

Well, I’ll rephrase that, almost any idiot could.

Jamie also seems concerned that Nicola travelled first class.

Now I have no idea whether on not she did. I suspect that on a transatlantic flight, where you are expected to start work, be photographed and do interviews the minute you deplane, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to do so.

I’m sure that her counterpart in London doesn’t travel tourist on these flights.

And I’m sure that when Fluffy took himself off on a trade mission to South America on behalf of the British government, he didn’t travel steerage. So there really is a bit of a pot and kettle thing going on there.

The job of the first minister includes representing Scotland all over the world. That’s the deal. It specifically says that in her job description: “ promoting and representing Scotland at home and overseas”. Not to do so would be a dereliction of duty, and as far as I know, all first minister, regardless of party, have done it. I suspect that they too did not travel tourist.

So far so bad, Jamie.

Many tweeters point out a series of other facts to Jamie, just in case he was unaware of them, a fair number concerning the incompetence, wastefulness and general slackness regarding taxpayers money in matters within the purview of the government run by his own party.

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That one is my favourite… (To be fair I really really dislike Foxy, the disgraced former defence minister.) And there’s a wee additional comment to that particular graphic.

One guy pointed out that there was, in fact, a trade deal ready to sign.

It’s with the Faroe Islands, and according to him, it’s for whelks! (I’m sure you appreciate, knowing my love of the Nordic nations, that I mean no disrespect to the people of the Faroe Islands. I’ll bet it’s for more than Whelks. But Liam did promise us 40 deals just awaiting his signature on behalf of the queen, and no matter how good the trade deal with Thorshavn, Whelks won’t sustain us far into April. Keep up the good work your doctorness.)

As always in these matters, people do kinda go off topic ever so slightly, and mention is made of a fair few matters, not in the least concerning Nicola and her job, rather matters where the UK government has wasted endless amounts of Scottish and British taxpayers’ money.

One interesting one, I thought, was in the matter, recently in the news, of Labour MPs being bribed with cash for their constituencies to vote for Theresa’s hairbrained scheme to leave the EU, but to tie Britain to all its strictures without giving it any say in their composition. In fact, not so much “taking back control”, rather giving away the very considerable control that they had (a veto on some matters and a heavily balanced qualified majority vote on others).

It concerns a letter to the Times (no less) from Lord Thomas of Gresford QC (no less).

It seems that Jamies’ prime minister may be skating on very thin ice in this respect. And, that being the case in respect of Labour MPs,  may she not also have done so in the matter of the cash bribe(s) to Arlene’s Orange Fest?

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Nice of Jamie to facilitate the more open discussion of this matter, not (as far as I know) aired much by the BBC and hidden away in the august setting of the relatively little read  Times’ letters’ page.

Jamie’s tweets may be read here.

WELL, THERE YOU HAVE IT…

Seriously, there is no point in a backstop if it is time limited or if one party can simply withdraw from it at will. The EU’s deputy chief negotiator has said that there is no change in the EU position.

James Felton, on Twitter, put up this picture with the following caption, which more or less perfectly describes the position of the Brit Prime Minister.

“Me again. You know the backstop.

The backstop I signed up to, yes.

After two years of painful negotiation, that backstop, yes.

The backstop you’ve repeatedly said is a red f***ing line, yes.

I was thinking – can we scrap it?

No?

Ok, same time again tomorrow.”

Oh, Theresa, if only you hadn’t got yourself entangled with the Dinosaur Unbelievers Party (DUP)! And you thought the worst thing you’d ever done was run through some field or other when you were a bairn?

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