The value of Theresa May stock within her own Tory party has just plummeted to new depths after she offered MPs a vote on a second EU referendum in a speech this afternoon.
PLEASE WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW:
No sooner had the PM announced that she would be including a vote on having a second EU referendum in the Withdrawal Agreement Bill to be published in the next few days, than social media lit up with anger from Tories and Brexiteers.
In two days time, not only will she face a heavy defeat in the EU elections, it may end up as complete oblivion.
Her speech, put forward as "A new Brexit deal – Seeking common ground in parliament", was pitched as a bold new approach.
But as far as I can see it would tie the UK tighter into the EU as a vassal state and offer the Remainers the chance to go for a second referendum.
So, a Tory Government whose supporters are mostly Leavers, offers a Remain parliament, that wants to reverse Brexit, the chance to vote for another referendum on behalf of a nation that's already voted to leave the EU.
This is obviously pitched at the Remain elements across both Houses of Parliament in the hope that she can get enough support outside of her party to get that Withdrawal Agreement surrender treaty through to ratification.
But worse, she's also included in it a temporary customs union as well as a lock, based on the December 2017 Joint Report paragraph 50, that would keep the rest of the UK aligned in law with Northern Ireland for as long as the Irish border backstop was in play – which could of course be permanently as the Attorney General, Geoffrey Cox QC, pointed out.
Now, what her speech offers, she said, is a ten point plan for parliament to vote on.
One – the government would get a replacement for the backstop in place by December 2020, so it never needs to be used – well the EU have already said that the Withdrawal Agreement is not up for renegotiation and the backstop is part of that agreement. So she can try all she likes, it's a non-starter.
Two – if the backstop does come into force, then the whole UK will basically stay in the EU customs union. Any betting out there against the likelihood of it coming into force?
Three – MPs will be the ones to approve the negotiating objectives and treaties for the final UK/EU relationship – this one will cause all sorts of problems because both left and right will want to bake their ingredients into the treaties.
Four – There will be a new Workers' Rights Bill to ensure the UK never falls below EU standards – The left will obviously want this to be included in the treaties, not as a stand alone Act of Parliament that a future Tory government could repeal.
Five – environmental protection will remain unchanged – once again the left and Greens will want this in the treaties, not as a promise or an Act of Parliament that could be later repealed.
Six – the UK will seek as close to frictionless trade in goods with the EU as possible while outside the single market and ending free movement – this is a recipe to making any temporary customs union a permanent fixture, because that will always be the easy way out.
Seven – we will keep up to date with EU rules for goods and agri-food products that are relevant to checks at borders, protecting the thousands of jobs that depend on just-in-time supply chains – as before, the left will want this embedded in the treaties, not as UK law.
Eight – the Government will bring forward a customs compromise for MPs to decide on to break the current deadlock – That's this temporary customs union she's pushing. The problem for her here is that the EU will not be keen on agreeing to a customs union over which they have no control regarding when it ends, the EU will want a say. Also, all the while we are in it we cannot make trade deals with other countries.
Nine – there will be a vote for MPs on whether the deal should be subject to a referendum – need I say more?
Ten – there will be a legal duty to secure changes to the political declaration to reflect this new deal – that would mean negotiating with the EU on whatever parliament comes up with given the last nine points.
You only have to give it a moment's thought to realise that leaving the EU on WTO terms would be far easier and quicker than trying to navigate your way through all of that.
Now, Theresa May and the Chair of the Tory 1922 Committee of men in grey suits, Sir Graham Brady, are due to meet after the second reading of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill to chart her way out of Number Ten. So she will be desperate to ensure it gets through that stage to try and rescue what remains of her legacy.
So it was unsurprising when the PM said in her speech:
"The revised deal will deliver on the result of the referendum. And only by voting for the Withdrawal Agreement Bill at Second Reading, can MPs provide the vehicle Parliament needs to determine how we leave the EU. So if MPs vote against the Second Reading of this Bill – they are voting to stop Brexit. If they do so, the consequences could hardly be greater."
But as far as I'm concerned, she's put self above both party and more importantly, country!
I'll leave it to you to decide on how many final nails this has driven into the Tory party coffin.