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The PM is chasing unicorns with her backbench pandering

The PM is chasing unicorns with her backbench pandering
4 min read

Plaid Cymru’s Westminster Leader writes: "The Prime Minister must stop pandering to extreme Brexiteers in her own party and begin negotiating instead with those of us in Parliament who are willing to find common ground where it exists".


We are now just weeks away from the tumultuous upheaval of a No Deal Brexit and the Prime Minister is off chasing unicorns around Europe. As the clock ticks grow louder and louder, Theresa May is wasting time pretending to deliver the undeliverable – a renegotiation of the backstop. 

Worse than being misguided, the Prime Minister surely understands that the EU is not going to budge on their key insurance policy. Rather she is performatively pretending not to understand this reality for the ‘benefit’ of appeasing her Brexiteer backbenchers. 

With the Oscars just three weeks away, maybe Ms May is seeking nomination for he performance in this horror flick. Playing up to her backbenches, knowing that what she is doing is detached from reality.  

Pretending that the EU will agree to sever the backstop arrangement is nothing more than the stuff of fancy. In fact, it is precisely the type of cynical, bad faith behaviour which the backstop is required to insure against.

For the Brexit extremists, their departure is not from the EU, but from reality itself. Be it the vagueness of the ‘Brady amendment’, or the fact the EU has already ruled out almost every aspect of it, these pointless amendments are the same unicorns the Conservative party were chasing at the start of this process. 

Parliament can vote to have the Prime Minister demand two-thirds of Croatia from the EU - that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. 

Two years have passed since the triggering of Article 50 and the Conservative Party are still debating whether or not to avoid the dangerous chaos of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. You cannot reason with these people who have thrown away all pretence of public service.  It is now about abstract quibbles and parliamentary parlour games. 

Mrs May herself has previously said that the backstop was a requirement of a smooth Brexit transition, claiming in the original vote just over a fortnight ago that “no backstop simply means no deal.”

Plaid Cymru’s priority now is ensuring that the Prime Minister’s reckless threat does not come to pass. While most of the well-to-do people who occupy Parliament and its orbit will probably fare fine under a No Deal scenario, my constituents will not. It is normal people - hill farmers, factory workers, mums, dads, and ultimately children – who will pay the real price for the Prime Minister’s vanity. 

Much like how this whole sorry mess began, this is not about what is best for economy, for people or for any of the four nations of the UK. It is barely about Europe. It is about the Tory party and their internal squabbles.

And as the Prime Minister looks to the Brexit extremists on her own backbenches for the answers, whole nations are being ignored. Votes in the devolved legislatures are set aside, powers have been clawed back, and the Welsh economy is just another bargaining chip in No. 10’s back pocket. 

The needs and concerns of Wales continue to be an afterthought. To Westminster we are - as we always have been – peripheral and expendable. 
 
Fundamentally, the only thing these votes confirm, once again, is that Westminster is simply not fit for purpose.

In fact, the corrupt cronyism of Westminster politics no longer has the modesty to conceal itself. We learnt this week that the Prime Minister is seeking to woo Leave constituency MPs into voting for her deal with DUP-style bungs. Brown envelopes for bribes are no longer needed. So broken is Westminster politics that such transactions are now done in broad daylight and broadcast with great pride. 

And still, there is a long way to go yet. Even if a few Labour MPs are enticed over, Ms May’s renegotiations are unlikely to deliver on the demands of her own backbenches. With the Labour frontbench frozen in fear of making a decision, we are likely to move from gridlock to Groundhog day, as we come to vote again on Mk.3 of this woeful deal whenever she returns from Brussels. 

Madness is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different outcome. And although the constant re-negotiations clearly show sanity is lacking on the Government benches, this cyclical Brexit gameplaying is driving us all mad. 

The Prime Minister must stop pandering to extreme Brexiteers in her own party and begin negotiating instead with those of us in Parliament who are willing to find common ground where it exists. Unlike her colleagues we will put the needs of our constituents first. 

Liz Saville Roberts is Plaid Cymru’s Leader in Westminster and MP for Dwyfor Meirionnyd

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