It was a momentous occasion, and the house was full (for once) at PMQs, and the triggering of Article 50 statement that followed.
However, it was as boring as ever, more drab than a windswept March weekday in Bridlington, and that comes from experience.
Jeremy Corbyn didn’t ask any questions on Brexit during PMQs, he would leave all that it until after May’s statement, which kind of mirror’s his whole referendum campaign. Corbyn asked some fairly searching questions over education and police cuts, but nobody was paying attention, sadly.
It was left, surprisingly, to Angus Robertson, SNP, to raise the decibel levels in the chamber. He threatened that Brexit would destroy the union. May responded, with her irony button off as usual, and said that we needed unity more than ever, especially today.
Alex Salmond, SNP, also chipped in saying that the Welsh are angry, the Northern Irish don’t have a government, Scotland wants to leave the UK and England is split down the middle, he joked ‘maybe now is not the time to trigger article 50.”
However, it wasn’t until PMQs ended that the PM actually made the statement that she had triggered article 50. In a quaint way a letter was being hand delivered in Brussels to start the process.
I wasn’t sure what to expect, when May announced she had triggered Article 50, would balloons fall from the ceiling or Tim Farron, Lib, drop to his knees and recreate the final scene of Planet of the Apes. In fact that’s a great metaphor for Brexit, leave the EU for an unspecific number of years, to return to the same place, catastrophically worse, with or without monkey overlords.
Dominating Apes (apart from Boris) aside May admitted as much herself in her following statement. The PM said we now need to renew links, with the EU, in the sciences, banking, law enforcement etc. As the Thai’s say “same same but different.”
May then admitted that UK businesses might struggle, that trading with EU nations will still mean we have to adhere to their regulations, and we won’t be able to change any laws, “like we do with the rest of the world.” But that was the whole point of the EU common market, to get rid of that red tape, and allow free trade.
Again May’s irony antenna was off line when she said “we need the Liberal Democrat values of Europe more than ever,” which made, what is left of that political party, collapse into fits of laughter in the Commons.
To think that the EU will want to help us over their own members is ludicrous and arrogant. Surely the remaining nations will see what they can cherry pick from our economy for their own benefit.
In the best-case scenario we become a tax haven on the shores of mainland Europe, at the worst we could watch the decimation of the British economy and the union of four great nations, but at least we will be in control of the ship as it sinks.
Sycophantic question of the day
Matt Warman, Con, whose constituency voted ¾ to Leave, and ooked like he was nearing completion when he praised the PM and the Brexit result.