By Co-Founder Matt Gillow
I’ve not been involved with politics for, comparatively, very long. But in my short political ‘lifetime’ I can’t call to memory going into a parliamentary vote with the government so inevitably going to lose.
What happens when Theresa May’s government does get knocked back, yet again, on Brexit? Dominic Grieve’s latest (arguably out of order) amendment means she must now come back to Parliament with her Plan B within three days or be found in contempt of Parliament – again.
I don’t think it’ll come to that. Jeremy Corbyn has been calling for a General Election for some weeks now, to no avail. When May, potentially crushingly loses the Meaningful Vote (her team has set the ‘acceptable’ threshold at a loss of 100 or less) then the Labour leader will surely have no choice but to stage a vote of No Confidence in the Prime Minister – I predict he’ll try and force the government’s hand on Wednesday or Thursday. He’ll inevitably lose it – the DUP and Jacob Rees-Mogg’s European Research Group have previously confirmed they’ll rally around her in this instance. May’s team will chalk this up as another win and (somehow) a mandate for her to soldier on.
Then we’re at an impasse. The Conservatives can’t try to remove Theresa May until December 14th 2019. Her Deal still won’t have a parliamentary majority – and now Dominic Grieve has handicapped the Government in a No Deal scenario by tying its hands on financial powers, that way out looks increasingly scarier. A Second Referendum doesn’t have enough parliamentary support, or backing from an executive which would have to implement it – and suffer the repercussions.
So where do we go now?
I admit I’m biased. The EFTA/EEA Norway Model is my preferred option, as a sceptical Europhile – but increasingly I’m seeing it as the only, and most likely, way out of the Brexit impasse. It has a broad range of parliamentary support – from Robert Halfon, Nick Boles and Nicky Morgan on the Tory backbenches, to pro-Euro Lucy Powell on the Labour benches. John McDonnell has reportedly been sounding out support for the policy. Norway could, if the government came back with the idea as a proposed Plan B – command the support of the not-insignificant bloc of pro-May’s Deal MPs. I’d expect the Liberal Democrats and the SNP, as we edge closer to Brexit and a dangerous No Deal scenario, to panic-switch support for a Second Referendum to the Norway Model – which they’d surely accept as a pragmatic Brexit.
The Norway Model, in its purest form (though note: the backbench movement for the model also wants to keep us in the Customs Union) keeps Britain outside the regressive Common Agricultural and Common Fisheries Policy. Yes, we’d pay into the EU – but at a far lower rate than we currently do. We’d be outside the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (though for transparency, Norway in practice chooses to accept most EU laws.) The Norway Model gives us far more control over our immigration policy, respects the 48% that voted Remain – and delivers on several of May’s red line Brexit checkers.
It isn’t perfect – that’s absolutely for sure. But dragging government down wildly separate paths hasn’t borne fruit and will continue to fail us. Common Market 2.0, as dubbed by Halfon and Powell in their joint pamphlet announcing support for the policy – is the only path which has the potential to command a parliamentary majority. So, a prediction – May’s Deal fails, but she wins a No Confidence Vote on Wednesday or Thursday. The next logical, and potentially winning step, could and should be Norway.
Image: Number 10 @flickr