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Current location: Scotland
Member since: Mon Sep 7, 2009, 12:57 AM
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"Fuck knows, I'm past caring, it's like the living dead in here."

Those were the words of a Cabinet minister in the run-up to today's vote on May's deal, as reported on last night's BBC Newsnight by its Political Editor Nicholas Watt (note to hosts: I'll censor the title if you want, but Newsnight didn't.)

William Kedjanyi @KeejayOV2

“Fuck knows, I’m past caring, it’s like the living dead in here.” A Cabinet Minister to @nicholaswatt of #newsnight on tomorrow’s vote. So, you know, good vibes

Watt's full quote:

In Cabinet, I am picking up complete and utter despair. I said to one Cabinet minister, "Why is the PM holding a vote when she’s pretty sure that she’s going to lose?" And using very strong language, this Cabinet minister said to me, "Fuck knows, I'm past caring, it's like the living dead in here."

This Cabinet minister then went on to say, "Theresa May is the sole architect of this mess. It is her inability to engage in the most basic human interactions that brought us here. Cabinet has totally broken down. Ministers say their bit, she gives nothing away. One side thinks X will happen, the other side thinks Y will happen, and the Prime Minister decides on Z."

No idea how the vote will go as the debate continues in the House. The DUP are reportedly out, some Labour MPs are in. We're no doubt screwed anyway:


Jim Cornelius🇪🇺🇬🇧 🇮🇪🔶 @Jim_Cornelius

2015: "Only the Conservatives can deliver strong and stable government"
2016: "It's going to be a Titanic success"
2017: "I'm not going to be calling a snap election"
2018: "Chuck Chequers"
2019: "Fuck knows I'm past caring, it's like the living dead in here."

Get set for Brexit: Indicative Day - the one where the Grand Wizards turn on each other

Draw near, true believers, for these are dark days for the ERG Brexit ultras. The Fellowship of the Ringpieces finds itself divided on their next move, and may yet be bitterly sundered as they ponder the big question: could they honestly have played it worse?

Before we help them answer it, a quick update on which bit of Blunderland we’ve tumbled into now. Late on Monday night, the House of Commons voted to take control of the parliamentary agenda and attempt to break the Brexit deadlock via a series of indicative votes masterminded by former Tory minister Oliver Letwin. A clue, a clue! Our kingdom for a clue! Like all initiatives handled by Oliver Letwin since the 1980s, it promises to go spectacularly wrong in ways we haven’t even thought of yet, but let’s pretend otherwise before the shitstorm gets properly under way on Wednesday.

The Commons took this momentous decision after yet another of its Brexit endurance debates, all of which now resemble the grim Depression-era dance marathons of They Shoot Horses Don’t They? Lowlights included Kate Hoey insisting that no deal is simply “a different type of deal”, in that way that farmers will agree that no rainfall is simply a different type of rainfall. Or, indeed, that farmers will agree that no deal is simply a different type of deal, as they prepared to slaughter the estimated 10 million lambs they would not be able to export to the EU.

Reflecting on the Commons decision to take the prime minister into special measures, the No 10 spokesman said May was not happy with it: “She has said that tying the government’s hands in this way by seeking to commandeer the order paper would have far-reaching implications for the way that the UK is governed and the balance of powers and responsibilities in our democratic institutions.”


Finally: Parliament takes control of Brexit

It was a historic moment. Tonight the constitutional battle over Brexit took a decisive turn. MPs finally took control.

It had been a long time coming. Dominic Grieve first tried to wrestle control from the government in January. Then Hilary Benn tried again the week before last, only to lose by two votes.

Tonight's successful attempt came from Oliver Letwin. It wasn't even that close. It passed by 329 votes to 302. In the process, the government lost three ministers, who resigned to vote against the government: health minister Steve Brine, business minister Richard Harrington and the widely-admired Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt, who only yesterday was sat with Theresa May in Chequers.

In each case, the amendments had used the same mechanism: Standing order 14.1, which gives government the power to control parliamentary business. This was MPs setting their own timetable and deciding what they would debate and how.


Maybe nearly three years too late, but this confirms May's lame duckness.

She and her cabinet haven't been up to the job, in the EU or the UK. May's red lines on freedom of movement and the nonsensical "Brexit means Brexit" and The Will of The People™, along with the government's downright lies about how much research they'd carried out into the impact of the various Brexit options, have stifled proper explorations of the options that face the country, culminating in a deal that in the end only she and a few sycophants support, and even then only with reservations. Now, their plain shiftiness about how they'd run the order paper in the days to come finally overtaxed the majority of MPs' patience.

So some degree of control has finally been wrested back by Parliament. There will follow a series of debates and indicative votes on various options later this week - non-binding, just like the referendum. Whether the government will pay their results any attention, we'll have to wait and see.

Grim days with a gaslighting prime minister

Last night, Theresa May took to her podium at 10 Downing Street to lecture The People™ about what The People™ were thinking and feeling and to blame MPs in Parliament for the fact that she and her two governments have done fuck all to pursue a path to a relatively sane Brexit for over two years ("relatively" is doing a lot of heavy lifting there).

It's been pointed out elsewhere that it's a mystery how May would know what The People™ are thinking since she's too shy to actually meet any but a select few for fleeting periods in tightly regulated out-of-the-way venues. She's never shown any sign of empathy according to those who've ever had dealings with her, so when she talks about "the mood of the country", she's discussing the voices in her own head.

Last night, she chose to prolong her dangerous game by blaming MPs - a number of whom have already been receiving threats over Brexit - for the dire situation we're in and for not compromising by going along with whatever she wants.

Today, Speaker John Bercow was driven to address the House to clarify that MPs generally aren't "traitors" (there are a couple I'd quibble with him about that, but he's taking the high ground when I'm less and less inclined to do so):

BBC Politics

"None of you is a traitor... the sole duty of every member of Parliament is to do what he or she thinks is right"

Commons Speaker John Bercow defends Parliament, after MP accuses Theresa May of "pitching MPs against the public" over #Brexithttp://bbc.in/2JHSaeL

The Leader of the House, the repulsive Angela Leadsom, took to her trotters a few minutes later to express her leadership by telling him that he hadn't "raised the level", whatever that means. He was having none of it:

PointOfOrder @Point_OfOrder

Andrea Leadsom and the Speaker, John Bercow, had their umpteenth public spat in the Commons just a few minutes after. pic.twitter.com/Wri5GiNyB0

May's conduct - doubled down on by Leadsom - has infuriated the very people she needed to persuade to her point of view, the MPs in Parliament on both sides of the House. There's no point in her addressing The People™ if she's going to deny The People™ a voice in this argument, either through a second referendum or another general election, and rely instead on her warped interpretation of a dodgy jumped-up opinion poll from nearly three years ago.

If May's not careful, it won't be a case of her being ousted by a parliamentary coup or choosing to duck out once she's achieved her ambitions, there'll be staff in white coats chasing her round Downing Street with butterfly nets, and not before time.

Nine days from 'Brexit day', does anyone have a clue what's happening?

We're begging for an extension and seeking trade deals with the mighty Liechtenstein. Everything is fine


The people in charge have had three years to make a success of Brexit, and here we are nine days away from Brexit and we don’t even know if we’re nine days away from Brexit yet. Sure, Theresa May is asking for an extension, but only in the same way that you’re free to ask your teacher for an essay extension, when they know full well you’re going to cram that time full of yet more useless procrastination.

By now, the leave camp promised everything would be sorted and we’d have all the trade deals ready to go the second after we leave the EU. Which is why it’s not the most reassuring thing when Liam Fox came out with a massive shit-eating grin to announce that he’s signed a deal with Liechtenstein, a country with a population roughly the size of Liechtenstein. Apologies if that doesn’t help clarify the size of Liechtenstein, but Liechtenstein is literally the go to example of somewhere as tiny as Liechtenstein. See the problem I’m having?

We are out of options and nearly out of time. So how have we spent our supposed last precious few days in the European Union? As is traditional, we’re having ourselves a constitutional crisis.

After seeing the government show up over and over again with the same deal and a good feeling about it this time, the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, decided he’d had enough and invoked a parliamentary convention so old that not even Jacob Rees-Mogg saw it coming from his vantage point of 1837.


It IS flawed, but most of what Brexiteers object to was enacted as a result of UK pressure!

Not least under Thatcher and her handbag regime.

See here: https://politicalscrapbook.net/2017/07/american-tells-bizarre-story-of-how-britain-went-from-leading-the-eu-to-leaving-it-in-one-epic-twitter-plea-to-rethink-brexit/

Maybe the objectors could point me to any political setup in the world that isn't flawed, more or less deeply.

Babies and bathwater come to mind.

Brexiteers March to Leave with Nigel Farage in Sunderland

The March to Leave set off from a sodden field on Saturday morning, to begin its way over to London over a 14-day period.


Angry rows broke out as the march started, with several counter-protesters assembling to get their views across.

Carrying love hearts bearing messages like "we love workers' rights" and "we love to have a say", they chanted “you can shove your Brexit up your arse”.

As Mr Farage arrived, a woman set off a flare with the EU colours, to shouts of "exit Brexit" from the counter-protesters. She was shepherded away by police, but no arrests were made.

It is understood that two two advertising vans, made by the anti-Brexit grassroots campaign Led By Donkeys, will also be following the march.


Farage's army may be glad of the company. 2,000 were slated to take part - each expected to pay Farage £50 for the privilege - but only 100-200 actually turned up at the start in a muddy and rain-drenched field, almost outnumbered by the media and counter-protesters. They better not have blinked or they'd have missed Farage, who soon peeled off to find something better to do with his Saturday.

Led By Donkeys @ByDonkeys

Hiya @Nigel_Farage 👋#EpicProtestMarch

I didn't get past the first two comments on this article:

We need to get behind these people leave means leave without any deal we would never get a deal that suits us they wouldn't allow it

why aren't you on the march then?

This seems to sum up their leader's attitude: Nigel Farage will not complete Brexit Betrayal march despite urging supporters to join him

Led By Donkeys @ByDonkeys

Hi millionaire elite property tycoon and Farage funder @TiceRichard, is this the "epic protest march" you've been talking about? Cos right now there are more people in the queue at my local Tesco #MarchToLeave #EpicProtestMarch

Cheering the marchers on from the comfy sidelines while trying to keep a brave face, rabid Brexiteer and BBC Question Time regular Isabel Oakshott sprang into action:

Security might be needed, but more likely to protect the public from some of the marchers:

North East 4 Europe #FBPE @NE4EU

One of the Farage lot has just punched a female member of NE4EU at his Sunderland march.

McWomble 🇬🇧🇪🇺🇺🇸✊✌️ @WombleFree

So this happened to me today at the ⁦@NE4EU⁩ protest at the start of Farage’s march not really a march. Nice people these Hard Leavers. ⁦@angelsforeurope⁩

Not wishing to sound complacent, but if this is the scale of "civil unrest" we face if we don't pander to these arseholes, then so far I'm not very whelmed.

Meanwhile, ace campaigners Led by Donkeys haven't been idle:

Led By Donkeys @ByDonkeys

We had a busy night at @ByDonkeys, covering Sunderland in our billboards. Farage's fake grassroots elite-funded circus has not gone unchallenged ✊

The Banks Files: Brexit funder urged campaign to "press it harder" after Jo Cox murder

Despite an agreement by all groups to suspend campaigning in the aftermath of Jo Cox’s death, Arron Banks instructed the social media team at Leave.EU to “boost” an existing sponsored Facebook ad.


Leaked emails and documents reveal that despite an agreement by all groups to suspend campaigning in the aftermath of her death, the millionaire businessman instructed the social media team at Leave.EU to “boost” an existing sponsored ad on Facebook.

New evidence also reveals that his campaign discussed secretly exerting influence and control over other groups, pumping in cash not properly declared to authorities, in a potential breach of spending laws.

Banks secretly bankrolled Labour’s Eurosceptic movement Labour Leave, funding at least three figures on its executive board, an office and computers. Labour Leave is under investigation by the Electoral Commission.


These revelations are in the third part of a series on Banks run by Channel 4 News over the past week. Some other "highlights" here:

Channel 4 News
Replying to @Channel4News

Business associates of the self-styled “bad boy of Brexit” offered to oversee a plan to create a massive new Russian gold company, and tried to arrange a personal meeting in Moscow with key players from a state-owned Russian bank.

Channel 4 News

Tonight, a Channel 4 News investigation will reveal for the first time how a finance company substantially owned by Banks drew up a business pitch for a Kremlin-linked oligarch called Siman Povarenkin to merge six Russian gold miners into a single company. https://www.channel4.com/news/the-banks-files-how-brexit-bad-boy-arron-banks-was-eyeing-a-massive-russian-gold-deal

Channel 4 News

The Banks Files: Did Arron Banks bribe a South African police chief to have a business rival investigated?https://www.channel4.com/news/the-banks-files-did-arron-banks-bribe-a-south-african-police-chief-to-have-a-business-rival-investigated

Channel 4 News

Tonight we reveal Brexit funder Arron Banks ignored campaign suspension after Jo Cox’s murder, urging social media team “up the spend” and “press it harder”.

Watch the third instalment of #TheBanksFiles in full here:

Scottish and Welsh parliaments unite against no-deal Brexit

The First Ministers of Scotland and Wales have joined together to tell the Prime Minister her "reckless" behaviour over Brexit "must stop now".

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and her Welsh counterpart Mark Drakeford spoke out after politicians in Edinburgh and Cardiff took a "united and historic step" to vote against both Theresa May's withdrawal deal and the prospect of a no-deal Brexit.


Afterwards the two first ministers said: "For the first time in the 20-year history of devolution, the National Assembly for Wales and the Scottish Parliament voted simultaneously to oppose a damaging no-deal Brexit.

"The vast majority of members across both chambers voted in agreement that a no-deal outcome would be completely unacceptable and that an extension to Article 50 is the best way forward to protect Wales, Scotland and the UK as a whole."


In Edinburgh MSPs overwhelmingly passed a motion stating this by 87 votes to 27 with one abstention, while in Cardiff a similar motion was approved by 37 votes to 13.


European Commission warns Britain over dividend tax avoidance

Brussels has accused Britain of enabling tax avoidance by big business in a move that may foreshadow a post-Brexit battleground.

In its annual report on the UK, the European Commission drew particular attention to dividend tax arrangements, which it claimed made Britain attractive for “treaty shopping” and “aggressive tax planning”.

The UK has incurred the EU’s ire on tax avoidance before but Brussels has never used the annual report to voice its concern. The accusation puts Britain in a small group of countries to be named and shamed that includes Luxembourg, Cyprus, Ireland and the Netherlands.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/european-commission-warns-britain-over-dividend-tax-avoidance-xck2dt5hq (paywalled, but reading the rest of the article only requires registration)

One of the deep suspicions among Remainers (me included) has been that May's rush to trigger Article 50 was at least partly an attempt to avoid having to comply with the EU's new anti-tax avoidance and money laundering directives, likewise the enthusiasm for a no-deal brexit among the more monied of the Tories.

The government did state last July that it would comply with the new legislation at least during the originally projected transition period up to December 2020. The UK's archipelago of affiliated tax havens won't be bound by the new rules unless they decide to apply them (which they probably will if they want to continue to have access to EU financial markets).

Unless there's a no-deal Brexit and complete breakdown in UK-EU relations, which some are evidently angling for, these issues are likely to be a continuing source of friction during the transition period and beyond.
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