Our correspondent The Rebel looks at the extraordinary world of politics today as the astonishing Tory leadership race gave us a Prime Minister who has lost his majority to govern and seen control of Brexit seized by MPs who hate him.
The Rebel is a leading political figure close to senior politicians in London as well as Cardiff Bay, and will always give readers the inside track on what is being discussed in the corridors of power.
It is a golden rule of investigative journalism to know what you don’t know and then go to a lawyer.
Every lawyer unfortunately gives different advice, but it offers a rough idea.
It is a pity our politicians and political pundits do not follow the same rule.
They have no idea what is going on now either, and they too should go to the equivalent of a lawyer (a constitutional expert).
But the problem with getting different advice from a libel lawyer is magnified a thousand times in this mess, because although constitutional experts are absolutely firm about what lies ahead they don’t actually know – nobody does!
They give different advice according to which one it is.
What we do know is that it is complete chaos.
As one UK newspaper columnist put it the day after Tuesday’s vote: “(This is) a government that is making it up as it goes along… The government is flying blind“.
Frankly I am as much in the dark as the next person because in 32 years involvement in politics I have NEVER known a time like this.
So let’s start by giving you what I DO know is going on in the UK Government.
Boris always realised he was going to lose that first vote.
So too did his advisers – chief among them is the irrascible Dominic Cummings – but the scale of the loss on Tuesday night took even them by surprise.
MPs took control of the parliamentary agenda by 328 votes to 301, a majority of 27.
The UK Government confirmed that it would strip the whip from the 21 Tories, including nine former cabinet ministers, who rebelled, but there is a growing backlash against that now.
The perceived arrogance of that faux young old fogey, the Leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg didn’t help matters.
Caroline Lucas the Green MP said: “Now, there’s been a lot of talk about democracy tonight and the Leader of the House, who – I have to say – with his body language throughout this evening has been so contemptuous of this house and of the people”.
Other MPs shouted at him to sit up.
The vote itself was pretty awful for Boris and his acolytes.
He told the commons: “The consequences of this vote tonight means that Parliament is on the brink of wrecking any deal that we might be able to get in Brussels.
“It will hand control of the negotiations to the EU”.
Number 10 was on a war footing for a General Election in the next few weeks.
The team around Boris reckoned the Tories would lose some seats to the Lib Dems in Remain areas, so they had to concentrate their fire on winning even more in Leave areas while taking on the Brexit Party, and BoJo had bet his party on winning up to 30 seats clustered in the Midlands and the North of England from Labour.
That’s why you were hearing this macho talk from him about taking the UK out of the EU on October 31 “no ‘ifs” and no ‘buts'” and that he would “rather be dead in a ditch” than ask the EU for a delay.
Yet he may now have to.
The bearded lefty is poised to reject Boris’ demand for a 15 October election for a second time on Monday, with Labour fearing it would play into the Prime Minister’s hands.
Despite being taunted by Boris as a “chlorinated chicken” who is afraid of facing the public, the bearded one is holding out for an election on Labour’s own terms – most likely at a later date.
The UK Government has suggested that it will hold a vote on another motion under the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act on Monday, a procedure that requires two-thirds of MPs to back it if it is to pass.
No final decision has been made about Labour’s tactics next week, but daily discussions are taking place with other key opposition figures including the SNP’s Ian Blackford and Liberal Democrat leader, Jo Swinson.
All this was made worse for the straw-haired leader by the resignation of his brother Jo yesterday, and by making a speech that was deemed too political in front of police officers who had to stand for an hour in the sun, with one of them becoming ill.
Perhaps she didn’t know what was going on.
But then none of us do…
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