Chaos, tumult, uproar. As I write this on Tuesday night, the Government has just lost a vote on the Commons taking control of the order paper. Parliament is reeling. 21 Conservative MPs, good people and friends of mine, have been expelled from the Party. A general election looms.
How on earth did it come to this?
MPs only have themselves to blame. Whether it was Theresa May’s deal, or indicative votes for every option under the sun, the only thing this House of Commons has been able to agree upon is how to disagree. MPs disagreed on the Norway option, the EEA option, a customs union, and more besides. Very many MPs (principally the ERG and those who refused to accept the referendum result) insisted on absolute victory, failing to recognise that those who insist on absolute victory risk absolute defeat.
This latest vote is just more of the same. It doesn’t rule out no deal. It merely pushes the cliff-edge back. That’s because the only way to avoid no deal is with a deal, and it’s why many of us voted for Theresa May’s deal three times. It’s also why I voted for a customs union, which would have honoured the result whilst protecting jobs and peace in Northern Ireland.
And now, to make matters more exasperating, 17 opposition MPs have come out of the woodwork to say, in effect, they made a mistake and would now vote for the Withdrawal Agreement if it came back. Why didn’t they heed the warnings at the time?
So where do we go from here? The short answer is, in all likelihood, a general election. What that will solve, however, is far less clear. Whether it’s Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street, if MPs aren’t prepared to compromise, our country will be condemned to more of the same.