I’m not sure if there’s a fat lady somewhere in the Conservative Party ranks, but if there is, Boris Johnson must be longing to hear her sing. Yesterday he and everyone else felt that last week’s sequence of events, comparable to the Almighty’s creation of the universe, was coming to a satisfactory close. It appeared to everyone that Boris’s deal with the EU would be passed, leaving the DUP to lament the lack of consistency, aka habitual lying of the British PM. But lo – Oliver Letwin leaps up and in no time it’s agreed that the various items of the EU deal must be legislated before the bill is passed…No, Viriginia, I don’t quite know what that means either. But its effect is clear: Boris is boxed on all sides. The man who was dismissed as a buffoon was then hailed as a man of great strength of character who had forced a new deal out of the EU. Admittedly it was a deal that was much worse (ask Nigel) than the one that Theresa brought back, but that was beside the point – Boris had confounded his critics and was riding in his chariot to his coronation in the Commons. Then, as I say, Letwin appeared from nowhere, leapt on the chariot and, if he didn’t stop it, certainly slowed its progress.
Does all that remind you of something? Of course – it’s like one of those Netflix series like Fargo or Breaking Bad. Just when you think you’ve got it all figured and know where the plot is going, another element comes crashing in and changes things again.
What have we learnt from yesterday’s events?
Well, that a lot of MPs are very childish people. The Speaker, who is supposed to run things, is such a prima donna, you expect him to burst into an aria at any moment. Many vain little MPs who are unknown outside their own constituency boundaries took the opportunity for ten seconds of fame and made some meaningless point but got their image out to thousands. Maybe most of all, we saw from the hundreds of thousands of people milling around outside parliament that there are an awful lot of people who will spend the rest of their lives being bitterly disappointed if this whole thing isn’t thrown into reverse and the UK decides to call the whole thing off.
Which total reversal would be two things: wise, and resisted fiercely by the DUP. And lots of other Leavers.
The UK is so fractured in its causes and convictions, it’s hard to see how all the queen’s horses and all the queen’s men will ever patch the pretend Union together again. Sorry, Nigel. Sorry, Arlene