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May and Corbyn are putting self-interest before country

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26.02.2019

A wise response these days on hearing a firm opinion from either the Prime Minister or the leader of the Opposition is not to believe it. Opacity is their shared language: both sow confusion to gain time. “Where there is a need for transparency, let us bring equivocation,” is their mutual invocation.

We started a crucial week in Brexitology with Theresa May performing one of her David Blaine-inspired disappearing tricks on the “meaningful” vote, now meaningfully shifted from the slated date of tomorrow to March 12. Either May expected to have made greater headway by now (unlikely, given the hardening tone since the start of the year in Brussels) or she always intended to have the vote as close as possible to the official EU leaving date at the end of March.

But this week she arrives at a point when large parts of the Conservative Party are in a state of war-readiness against her. That changes the balance of raw power — and not to her advantage. Three ministers (Claire Perry, Richard Harrington and Margot James) tell the Daily Mail today that they will back the Yvette Cooper-Oliver Letwin amendment, empowering Parliament to force a Brexit delay rather than risk a no-deal outcome.

They are just the advance troops, with the prospect of a raft of senior Cabinet resignations to follow if the PM does not concede an argument she has so fiercely resisted. Another senior backbench figure, formerly close to May, predicts: “There will be waves and waves........

© Evening Standard