It’s been a busy week! Henry Anderson tries to catch his breath.
Nothing Has Changed
Patrick Harvie might have called the Withdrawal Agreement a “damp squib” but it has blown the Conservative party apart. Theresa May’s response has been to do a Jeremy Corbyn and cling on no matter how many resignations she faces. The Prime Minister’s fate now lies in the hands of Graham Brady, Chair of the 1922 Committee of backbench Conservative MPs, and the leadership of the sixth largest economy in the world hinges on whether Sir Graham gets 48 letters from disgruntled Tories over the weekend. This would trigger a no confidence vote in the Prime Minister and, if she loses, a leadership election. The only glimmer of hope is if she wins the no confidence vote – in which case she cannot be challenged for another year.
Bag Your Carpets
On Thursday, David Mundell, the lonely torch-bearer for the Scottish Conservatives at Westminster for more than a decade and the butt of many a cruel panda-related joke, considered his position in the Cabinet. Scottish Conservative MPs had warned against any Brexit agreement that separated Northern Ireland from Great Britain, precisely the reason Dominic Raab gave for his resignation. Would Mundell follow? Yet the nation breathed a collective sigh of relief when he said he would stay on, denouncing Dominic Raab as a “carpetbagger” – a wonderfully vintage, if slightly confusing, choice of insult.
For Those Who Haven’t Been Listening
Mike Russell trod a familiar path on Thursday when he delivered a statement on Brexit. The usual comments were there: single market membership for Scotland, a UK Government that does not listen and the looming danger of a “Tory hard Brexit”. Now that the UK Government has set out its approach to the Irish border, which would involve Northern Ireland mirroring some EU single market rules, he demanded Scotland have the same special deal. Less expected was his announcement that the Scottish Parliament would have a vote on the Withdrawal Agreement. This will take place after the European Council approves the document on Sunday 25 November – and the Scottish Parliament will almost certainly reject it.