Can Parliament take control?

If the last week is anything to go by, Theresa May seems to have lost control. Her crushing defeat on Tuesday night was followed up by a Pyrrhic victory on Wednesday in the no-confidence vote. Her MPs turned on her the first minute, then put their ‘complete confidence’ in her government the next. The popular conception of politicians are duplicitous and self-serving was definitely not defied by events over the last seven days.

As a result of this chaos, there has been much talk in the corridors and tea rooms of power as among Fleet Street of MPs ‘taking back control’ of the Brexit process. The phrase, infamously used by the Leave campaign in 2016, has many a connotation. It signifies that the power was taken away, which it never was. It also seems to present an image of the valiant MPs taking in the mood of the country and translating it into legislation. It is most certainly not this, either. The Brexit souk has been open for business for a long while now, but we seem to be no closer to knowing what our MPs desire.

Next week could change that, however. Theresa May’s talks with opposition leaders seem to have been ultimately futile, but she has one card left to play. By offering up a whole set of proposals to Parliament, one by one, she is offering a way out. The Commons must accept the proposals somehow. If not, she has a bargaining chip of offering her deal or no-deal, a reasoning that has failed resoundingly so far but could increase in value as March 29th comes ominously closer.

Dominic Grieve’s amendment, to make no-deal illegal, has been hailed as an ingenious plot both to do what it says on the tin but also to stop Brexit altogether, but punching holes in Britain’s weak constitution. The Government will prevail eventually however. MPs are stubborn creatures, and they seem to only accept the perfect over the good when it comes to Brexit. The Government has been elected to rule and it seems to it will strive to do exactly that to the end. MPs must come up with a solution to get to their intended means, but their efforts may be futile.

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