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Brexit Deadline Looms – All Bets Are Off!!

With the Brexit deadline day of March 29th looming large on the horizon, our Political Correspondent Peter Spencer looks at the state of confusion reigning in Westminster…

Everyone’s jockeying for position. No one’s clear what they’ll settle for, let alone how to achieve it. With both May and Corbyn shifting their ground, friends and foes alike are busy trying to capitalise on it. Their problem being they can’t work out what their leaders are playing at. Makes twelve-dimensional chess look easy.

There’s a theory that there really is a Loch Ness Monster. Only no one can find it because the water’s so murky.

Remind you of anything? Brexit?

If you’re not confused you’re not getting it.

Actually, looks like no one’s getting it. At least not what they want.

After spending nearly three years telling us we’re definitely definitely leaving the EU on March 29th Theresa May has said we may not be after all.

She’s a well brought up lady. But when you eat that many words a good fart’s forgivable.

Remember the campfire/baked beans scene in Blazing Saddles? Yee-haw, ma’am. Better out than in.

Parliament’s putrid enough anyway these days, what with the Labour leader also letting off a silent but deadly one.

Corbyn had never quite ruled out a second referendum. So when he did finally rule one in the effect was less explosive, but every bit as powerful.

The lift scene in The Revenge of the Pink Panther? No one knew whodunnit, but they all knew what it was. No wonder that bit of the film was so hard to shoot, it was that funny.

Not surprising though that no one’s laughing in Westminster. One exasperated MP suggested working out the leaders’ positions is harder than nailing jelly to a wall. And yet another minister resigned last week at the very thought that Mrs May might try and slow up departure.

Shadow boxing? It’s like everyone’s viciously lashing out at their opponents, but doing so in different gyms dotted all over town.

Corbyn’s only proffering a second referendum because he can’t persuade parliament to back his soft, cuddly version of Brexit.

May’s only mooting a departure delayed till no later than June because she can’t coerce the commons into backing her tougher deal either. She’s trying to buy more support by begging Brussels to tweak it, but not getting very far.

Oh, and by the way, she won’t get the date changed at all unless the other EU nations agree. And the signs aren’t looking brilliant on that front either.

One last movie reference. ‘Another fine mess’.

So much for the cavalry on either side riding to the rescue. Or at least making something happen.

The so-called meaningful vote, or votes, will take in the next couple of weeks. At that point, in theory, parliament will come to a firm conclusion. Either to finally swing round to the deal Theresa May’s thrashed out with the EU, or to give a definite no to leaving without a deal. Or maybe a yes. Or to support her plan to try and get more time to sort something out. Or to go for a second referendum.

Some say the so-called ‘People’s Vote’ has now crept slightly up the scale of possibility, in spite of headwinds everywhere. The EU would almost certainly give us more time to give that a go. And say their prayers that it reversed Britain’s position. But the parliamentary arithmetic is such that everything is fluid.

* Determined Tory remainers, including a significant slice of the cabinet, are offset by diehard Labour leavers.

* The European Research Group, the faction a colourfully outspoken former aide to David Cameron would label ‘mad, swivel-eyed loons’, is neither numerous nor united enough to provide that last hard Brexit heave.

* And the MP’s who defected from their parties primarily to fight to keep us in the European Union, have the same problem in reverse. Officially The Independent Group, they’ve been nicknamed TIG-GERS. Very sweet, but it looks like they’ll be lost in the Hundred Acre Wood for a while yet.

A week after their formation they got an extraordinary eighteen-per-cent poll rating, only five points behind labour. So maybe, just maybe, others will flock to their banner and change everything.

But, to quote from Winnie the Pooh, ‘you can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.’ Doubtless, they’re on it, but in the current critical times they don’t have long.

Another Milne gem springs to mind. ‘If the person you are talking to doesn’t appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.’

Small piece of fluff? More like a stonking great lump of concrete. At least all sides would agree with that. Little surprise everyone’s floundering. It’s what happens in a dialogue of the deaf.


Peter Spencer has 40 years experience as a Political Correspondent in Westminster, working with London Broadcasting and Sky News. For more of his fascinating musings on the turbulent political landscape, follow him on Facebook & Twitter.

Former Sky Correspondent Peter Spencer shot in front of his The Pink Palace home in Cornwall. He looks off camera holding a glass of brandy in his right hand

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