February 14th’s Valentine Days massacre in the Commons marked the point where May finally lost control of Brexit and the Tory Party split into warring factions. The comment by Defence Minister Tobias Ellmore that the 72 Brexiteers who did not back May were “A party within a party” was well founded, but there will be no dividend for Labour. The bigger picture got lost in the scramble. March 29th is now (Sat 16th February) 42 days away, and May is playing Russian Roulette.
A slowly dawning consciousness that the end is near is sparking a limited recognition that the only game in town is extending the deadline. Gary Younge in the Guardian of 15th February wrote that this has to happen but not with May in charge. There is a reality gap here. There is no alternative Prime minister that the Guardian readership would like. But the other options have closed down. It is now Delay or Else risk No Deal. May has to be overridden. She cannot be replaced.
Certainly the People’s vote campaign has no chance unless this happens. Adonis told a meeting on February 2nd the best estimate of PV voting MPs is 160. With the arguments inside the Labour Party becoming self defeating only an extension – preferably for a year – can create a space to build. If May continues to lose votes for her options, the choices will be No Deal or an Extension.
An extension would not be a walk in the park- the Sun attacked it before Xmas and the far right call of BETRAYAL will echo far and wide. But let us be clear. There was NO deadline in the Referendum motion and parliament can change the date it chose and ask the EU 27 to comply. The far right will have to be faced down. But as neither a General Election or referendum cannot be held in 42 days, the choice is clear.
Jeremy Corbyn said on Valentines day Mrs May “cannot keep on running down the clock and hope something will turn up”. Yes she can! Running down the clock can only be stopped by extending the deadline. Then the other options – General election, Referendum, Citizens Assemblies, etc become worth discussing.
This was made clear in a letter to the Guardian on 16th January signed by notables including John Palmer ex Guardian European editor – and myself. It had no impact whatsoever. Yet if there is no extension Britain is heading for a bunjee jump with no bunjee. Perhaps the promised March 23rd demo could be a lever, but so far there is no sign Millbank has understood it PV campaign has to be put on the back burner and Extension put on the front of the political hob. It is now essential this happens.
Suggested motion from the South Staffordshire EU group follows. Colleagues who can put motions through branches are invite to contact me
This meeting notes that the best estimate of MPs supporting the Peoples Vote is 160 (Andrew Adonis National PV meeting 2nd February). There is no majority for a PV or any deal in the Commons in sight. However Jeremy Hunt the Foreign Secretary and many Labour and Progressive MPs have called for an extension of the deadline from March 29th.
This should now be the Campaign priority with all options to be considered including a General Election, Peoples Vote and Citizens Assemblies. This meeting calls for national action up to March 29th including a mass demonstration on March 23rd to prioritise extending the Article 50 deadline preferably for a year.
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