Last Night's Meaningful Vote

As I write on Tuesday evening, Parliament has once again voted down the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal. I fear the judgement of history will be scathing.

Instead of voting for a result that would have allowed a dam of pent-up investment to break over the British economy, supporting jobs here in Gloucestershire, Parliament has voted to send our country out into uncharted – and mountainous - seas. Moderation has given way to inflexibility. Pragmatism has been trumped by dogma.

Of course the deal wasn’t perfect. What compromise ever is? It carried risks too, as the Attorney General made crystal clear. But the risks our country now faces are far greater.

That’s because the opponents of the deal who marched arm-in-arm through the No lobby are gunning for completely different – and conflicting - outcomes. Some want to leave with no deal. Others want to block Brexit altogether. And a further cohort want to sow as much chaos as possible, (even though as Ken Clarke pointed out they don’t disagree fundamentally with the deal) to trigger a general election and get Jeremy Corbyn into Downing Street.

But those who are trying to block Brexit have to realise there is absolutely no guarantee the EU will offer an extension. The EU are utterly fed up with this whole process, and some senior officials are talking about cutting us loose. That would mean hard Brexit in just two weeks’ time – literally the opposite of what Remainers want.

And those who want no deal have now willingly handed the Brexit process to a Parliament that doesn’t have a majority for such a course and will try to block it – again creating the very real prospect of the opposite to what hard Brexiteers want.

It is very difficult to predict where things go from here. Irony of ironies, much now depends on the EU. Hardly ‘taking back control’.

But in a hung Parliament, a cross-party solution was always inevitable, as I said back in 2017. That remains the case today. MPs must wake up.