PLEASE WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW
The Prime Minister managed to get through the votes unscathed yesterday. But what was the price she paid?
As the votes came in and the amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill fell one by one you could be forgiven for thinking that the Brexiteers must be over the moon with delight.
But while the debates and votes were going on, Theresa May was meeting with Remainers and Leavers giving assurances to both. And the shock to the PM and her Chief Whip it seems, was that there were so many potential Brexit rebels – she had to give them something.
So they were told that MPs will somehow be given some sort of unspecified meaningful vote on the final deal (trust me, she is reported to have said). This of course could effectively remove the possibility of a no-deal Brexit, which would play right into the hands of EU negotiators and infuriate Brexiteers.
As a result the Tory pro-EU mob decided to back the government, so allowing the amendments to fall.
But at the same time the PM was also telling the Leavers that no red lines would be crossed and that the no-deal Brexit option would still be there as part of the negotiating tactics.
The sweetener she gave to the pro-EU Tories is opaque and unspecified, so you can bet your bottom dollar that they have a completely different view of what they were offered to what the Brexiteers will have thought they were offered.
And the Sun reports just that, saying:
"The PM came through a crucial vote only after pro-EU Tories forced her to agree to boost Remainer MPs’ power over negotiations with Brussels. But amid chaos last night, Leavers flatly denied Remainers’ claims that Mrs May had allowed them to veto any “no-deal” walk away."
With what the Sun describes as a senior Brexiteer in the government telling the newspaper:
"If Theresa has sold us out here she is in real trouble. There is no way she can recover if she has f***ed us over."
Jacob Rees-Mogg however seems a bit more relaxed about it saying that although the concession was a mistake, it actually made a no deal Brexit more likely.
And the reason he gives is that under the separation of powers, parliament has its place of legislating and government as a separate body is the executive and should do the negotiating. And parliament trying to negotiate with the EU by voting bills through parliament was not going to end well if you wanted a deal.
"If we get into the position in November where there is not a deal that the House of Commons likes and it sets down motions for what the government must do, if it asks for things that the EU then doesn't give, it will take too long for the government to be able to go back to parliament, back to the EU to get a deal." He said.
At some stage Theresa May is going to have to square this circle or possibly go to the country – again. She cannot keep kicking this Tory party division can down the road hoping it will somehow disappear into the long grass.
As to voting, there were twelve divisions for the EU Withdrawal Bill and only two Tories rebelled; Ken Clarke voted against his own government eight times and Anna Soubry four times.
And on the Labour side, from my counting, the rebels voting with the government were: Frank Field nine times, Kate Hoey nine, Graham Stringer nine, Ronnie Campbell three, John Mann three, Dennis Skinner once.
And now that the Remainers have lost one from their side – in the form of SNP leader Ian Blackford being ordered from the chamber by the Speaker, John Bercow, for refusing to sit when told during PMQs, – the PMs job has been made a little bit easier on today's remaining votes.
Halfway through the PMQ session Mr Blackford had just finished his two allotted questions regarding what he saw as a lack of debating time yesterday on devolved powers coming back from the EU. But not getting the response he wanted from the PM, he invoked a little used procedure to move that the house sit in private.
This would require that all galleries be cleared, TV switched off, reporters and Hansard removed etc.
Now, this procedure was originally intended to ensure there were a minimum of forty MPs available to vote and it has already been identified as a target for reform. It can also though be used to delay adjournment of the house or, as I suspect in this case, to air a grievance.
However, there are other better ways of doing this.
The upshot was that Mr Blackford moved for the house to vote to sit in private and Speaker Bercow consulted his experts and said there could be a vote at the end of PMQs not halfway through.
But the SNP leader remained standing and refused to give way so that PMQs could proceed.
This left the Speaker no option but to remove him from the chamber for the rest of the day and as he went all the SNP MPs followed him out of the Commons.
For me was just a childish choreographed publicity stunt, but an entertaining lunchtime watch nonetheless. But I expect that ardent SNP supporters will be foaming at the mouth over it.
Now, one report that might have slipped under your radar is that according to new research, IQs have been falling steadily for the past few decades.
As the twentieth century progressed IQ scores had been steadily rising, something called the Flynn effect after the intelligence researcher James Flynn.
However, a large study of Norwegian men consisting of over 730,000 IQ tests over decades has indicated that the Flynn effect has been reversed and IQ scores have been declining by about seven points every generation since 1975.
"It's not the first time we've seen this kind of dip. -says Science Alert – Research by Flynn himself that looked at the IQs of British teenagers almost a decade ago observed a similar fall in test scores.
"'It looks like there is something screwy among British teenagers,' Flynn told The Telegraph at the time."
Now tell me again about those thick old Leave voters and lowering the voting age to sixteen.
Seriously though, this appears to be a worrying long term trend that should be of concern to us all. One thing they did find was that eating fish helped – so get on with Brexit, get back control of our fishing grounds and get more cheap fresh fish on the dining tables of the UK.
And finally, Brexit supporting Wetherspoons pub chain owner Tim Martin, has decided to replace Champagne with sparkling wines from the UK in the run-up to Brexit.
The chain says it "….will replace Champagne with sparkling wines from the UK; Denbies Sparkling Whitedowns Brut and Whitedowns Rose Brut as well as Hardys Sparkling Pinot Chardonnay from Australia." will feature.
"The pubs will also serve wheat beers from the UK and USA; Blue Moon Belgian White, Thornbridge Versa Weisse Beer and SA Brains Atlantic White."
I'll drink to that!