Theresa May By Kuhlmann-MSC (CC-BY-3.0-DE)

Image by Kuhlmann-MSC (CC-BY-3.0-DE)

We now have 84 days to go until the UK leaves the EU and Theresa May is still scrabbling around for crumbs of comfort for her deal.


Theresa May now has less than two weeks to go to the crunch so-called meaningful vote on her Brexit deal and has been doing all she can to garner support for it.

And the Guardian says that she is once again going to be picking up the telephone to call her EU 27 counterparts in the forlorn hope of getting some assurance on the temporary nature of the Irish bacskstop, however little, that she can present to MPs next week to save her deal from certain extinction.

But the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party), on whom she relies for support to stay in power, has just neatly pulled the rug out from under her by confirming that they still plan to vote her deal down.

Speaking on the BBC Today programme, DUP MP Sammy Wilson said that there was no way that his party could support the PM's deal as, because of the Backstop provision, it treated Northern Ireland like a third country.

Without some radical re-write of the deal then, it looks like she's lost the DUP for good on this one. Especially as the DUP says it is 'relaxed' about the UK leaving the EU on WTO terms.

So one assumes that she will now be looking to her own MPs being pressurised by their constituents into voting en mass for her proposals.

But, just look at this, according to a survey by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the majority of Tory party members would rather see the UK exit from the EU on WTO terms than have Theresa May's deal imposed on them.

Further, 76% would rather have a no deal Brexit than see the UK remain inside the EU.

The research, which was run from Queen Mary University of London and Sussex University, shows how little support the PM's deal has amongst Conservative grass roots.

When 1,215 Tory party respondents were asked in a three way question whether they wanted to Leave the EU with no deal, or leave with Theresa May's deal or remain in the EU the numbers came out as follows:

No deal: 57%

Theresa May's deal: 23%

Stay in the EU: 15%

So that's a stonking win for leave with no-deal in a three horse race.

Further, when given a straight choice between Leaving with no deal or taking Theresa May's deal the results were:

No deal: 64%

Theresa May's deal: 29%

And when looking at those who do and do not support their Prime Minister's deal it came out as:

Oppose: 59%

Support: 38%

Pretty emphatic across the board, so why is May still pursuing her disastrous deal?

With numbers like this, surely she would be sending a quick e-mail to Brussels saying 'we're off'!

After all, there is no way that these party members will be writing to their MPs to support the PM's deal, is there? In fact they'll be demanding just the opposite.

So why are so many Tory MPs still serving in her government, which to me signals that they support her deal and are planning to vote for it in about a fortnight's time?

And what are those we once thought of as Brexiteers up to? You know, the likes of Fox, Leadsom and Gove?

What are they thinking?

Worse still, it is reported that Mrs May will keep on having meaningful votes on her Brexit deal until she gets the result she wants. Sounds like she's been taking lessons from the Eurocrats on how to win votes, doesn't it?

And it seems she is relying on talk that Brussels will come up with a small sweetener in respect of the Irish backstop in the next week or so to help her get the vote she wants.

But unhelpfully for our PM, this has being called 'Operation Figleaf' by senior Whitehall people. And that tells you all you need to know about it!

Commenting on this, the UKIP leader Gerard Batten said:

"Mrs May can't even sell her dismal deal to her party members, let alone the rest of the country. The Tory Party establishment is institutionally europhile, but the majority of their members see through the propaganda smokescreen.

"The Prime Minister champions a surrender document to the European Union which would turn Britain into a vassal state prepped to take us back in as a full member in a few short years.

"The overwhelming message from the people is clear – get on with getting us out – Brexit means a total unencumbered exit from the EU. UKIP is the only party which backs complete exit and returning Britain to the status of an independent, democratic nation-state."

So how can Mrs May plan to keep re-submitting that deal.

Well, I had a quick look online and found a House of Commons briefing paper on Parliament's role in ratifying treaties. And, as long as different rules don't apply to this particular treaty, then it seems that as long as a treaty is government policy the government can keep resubmitting it and all that Parliament can do is block it for 21 days at a time.

The briefing paper says that "This can continue indefinitely, in effect giving the Commons the power to block ratification".

But the good news here, is that there are not that many 21 day periods to the 29th March, are there?

Finally, I talked yesterday about the prospect of the Republic of Ireland having to go cap in hand to Brussels for huge amounts of money to support its businesses should the UK leave the EU without a deal.

I questioned whether the Eurocrats would either be able to or would actually want to oblige in this.

But it could be worse than that for the Republic as it has just recorded its first budget surplus since the financial crash – but this has relied heavily on corporation tax receipts.

And the Eurocrats are now pushing ahead with plans to cut down on vetoes that member states can use in certain policy areas and this includes – you guessed it tax.

This would mean that the EU would control tax across the bloc and be able to stop member states undercutting other member states to attract business – It's all about that single market level playing field. Well it's actually all about centralising control to Brussels really.

Corporate tax in Ireland is currently set at 12.5% but can be as low as 4% for foreign multinationals and 80% of corporate taxes in the Republic come from foreign firms.

So any harmonisation could well take firms out of Ireland and, if required, onto the EU mainland into a handier more central location.

All I can say is 'ouch!'


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