Brexiteers have reacted with fury after Remainer MPs rammed a bill delaying Brexit and blocking No Deal through the House of Commons in four hours with a majority of one — and the help of a convicted criminal out from prison on licence.
The EU (Withdrawal) (No5) Bill, brainchild of Labour’s Yvette Cooper and Tory Remainer Oliver ‘Leftwing’ Letwin, squeaked through by 313 votes to 312 — with a vote cast in favour by Fiona Onasanya, the MP for Peterborough who was imprisoned for perverting the course of justice in January, but has already been released on licence.
“A criminal wearing a tag… voted with Labour to support the Cooper Bill tonight and it won by one vote. A tainted result,” remarked Tory Brexiteer Nadine Dorries MP, in evident disgust.
“17.4 million voted for Brexit,” observed journalist Tim Dawson, hitting upon a similar theme. “313 MPs, including a criminal wearing an electronic tag, just blocked it – with a majority of 1.”
“A convicted criminal wearing a tag on her leg just overrode the opinion of 17 million people,” agreed Tory councillor Stephen Canning.
— Nadine Dorries (@NadineDorries) April 3, 2019
17.4 million voted for Brexit.
313 MPs, including a criminal wearing an electronic tag, just blocked it – with a majority of 1.
— Tim Dawson (@Tim_R_Dawson) April 3, 2019
A convicted criminal wearing a tag on her leg just overrode the opinion of 17 million people https://t.co/UNx834zHHM
— Stephen Canning (@EssexCanning) April 4, 2019
Other critics weighed in on the content and form of the bill, with veteran eurosceptic Sir Bill Cash deriding it as “constitutionally ridiculous” — but there was also some surprisingly strident criticism from some Remainers.
For example, Jolyon Maugham QC, a lawyer who has had a hand in a number of legal cases widely regarded as seeking to limit or potentially derail Brexit, described it as “obviously well-intentioned but technically… the Swiss cheese of legislation: full of holes,” and an “awful, awful distraction”.
Theresa May’s government, for its part, still seems wedded to her thrice-rejected Withdrawal Agreement with the European Union, which she now hopes to pass with the assistance of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Mr Corbyn himself is regarded as a hard-leftist the Tory high command had previously demonised as unfit for office due to his socialist economic policies, alleged anti-Semitism, and a long history of dealings with, and apparent sympathy for Irish republican and anti-Israel terrorists.
Does Health Secretary Matt Hancock think it is a good thing for the government to talk with Jeremy Corbyn?
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) April 4, 2019
The move has not gone down well with Tory MPs, with two-thirds of them wanting Mrs May ousted, according to British newspaper The Sun.
The pressure is even greater from the party’s much-neglected, overwhelmingly Brexit-supporting ordinary members, with an estimated seven in ten wanting her gone.
Many grassroots activists fear a bloodbath for the Tories in the upcoming May 2nd local elections, with John Strafford, chairman of the Campaign for Conservative Democracy, telling The Telegraph: “We can’t go on like this. The feeling is that this is a complete disaster for next month’s local elections. Some associations have already had difficulty finding candidates, others have had candidates pull out over this. It’s an unmitigated disaster.”
Her removal would have to take place outside normal party rules, however, as surviving a vote of no confidence in her leadership in December granted her a period of immunity from further challenges, which has yet to expire.
The way some in Westminster have reacted to Tory members disagreeing with – or even, the horror, *heckling* – their MPs is pathetic. Utterly tone deaf, sheltered attitude to respond not by wondering what's wrong but to demand members are simply silenced. https://t.co/vJbsC4B74I
— Mark Wallace (@wallaceme) April 3, 2019