Much is being made of the acceptance by this Remainer House of Commons of the terms of the deal Boris Johnson agreed with the EU (as opposed to the parliamentary timetable). It is being claimed that the Commons has performed a historic turnaround by accepting Brexit for the first time.
Not so. What the Commons accepted last night was Brexit in name only, a faux-Brexit deal which would see the UK leave the EU only to remain shackled to it in perpetuity in key areas but without any power to influence EU policy, thus leaving it worse off than as an EU member.
Two factors ensured that the terms of this deal were accepted by a majority of 30. The Tory Brexiteers, including all the so-called Spartans, folded; and 19 Labour MPs rebelled against their party line by voting for the deal.
The Spartans folded because, as I wrote here, they weren’t actually Spartans at all. They were so overwrought and bamboozled by the pressure of this unendurable travesty that they proved all-too vulnerable to the terrors of never getting Brexit at all and remaining trapped until 2022 by the Remainer coup against democracy, or the siren song of government sources making false or undeliverable promises about escaping over time from the bad bits of the deal.
Whatever. They folded to what is basically a Remain-by-stealth deal. And indeed, we can see that it is indeed such a deal because the Remainer parliament has now voted for it. True, the very worst bit, the backstop, has been removed; but the rest of it is basically the May deal that will trap the UK under the control of the EU – precisely the situation the British voted in the 2016 referendum to bring to an end.
Nigel Farage has been calling it right, as here. So have the DUP, who of course are now the target of redoubled Remainer sneers that all they can do is sectarian obstruction. So has the Bruges Group, whose analysis of the Johnson deal trap you can read here and which says of it in summary:
“The Treaty permanently restricts our military independence, demands payment of an unspecified sum, prevents independent arbitration, grants EU officials immunity from UK laws, leaves us with EIB contingent liabilities running into tens if not hundreds of billions and will impose punitive laws on the UK during a transition which is likely to be extended until mid 2022 (just a few months before the next General Election).
“The Political Declaration is such that a future FTA with the EU is made unpalatable because it will restrict our foreign policy and military independence as well as policies in trade, tax, fishing, environment, social and employment, competition and state aid. Free movement is replaced with vague notions of ‘mobility’ and ‘non discrimination’.”
Now here’s the full, cynical measure of this unparalleled travesty and potential tragedy. Because he is genuinely the prisoner of an unprecedented and unconstitutional coup against democracy and the people, Boris Johnson may now go into a general election (if the Commons actually allows the British people their right to have one at this juncture, which seems unlikely) brandishing this Brexit betrayal bill as the proof that he alone stands for “getting Brexit done” as opposed to Labour and the LibDems.
That latter bit is true; the first bit is not. But because most of the public has neither the patience nor the inclination to study the terms of that Johnson deal, and because Boris’s popularity has soared in lockstep with every move against him by the Remainer parliament and activist judiciary, he could get away with it.
Except of course for Nigel Farage, who now stands poised to do to Boris Johnson what Farage did to David Cameron — declare that the Westminster emperor has no clothes, and articulate once again the deepest yearnings of the British people to have once again a sovereign, democratic, self-governing country. And this time, those yearnings would be fuelled by incandescent rage.
Unless the Spartans come to their senses and now turn decisively against the Johnson deal, this is what’s coming.