There isn’t a good position for opposition parties in the House of Commons to take over the upcoming vote on the Brexit deal next week.
It’s a terrible deal and if you vote for it – as Labor will do – you look like an idiot. On the other hand, time is absolutely up and if somehow defeated the only alternative left to the deal would be a no-deal exit, which is the only worse thing.
That just makes this look pathetic.
Because the SNP, which votes against the deal, is the exact opposite of “in principle”. It’s the most cynical, cowardly kind of great virtue sign imaginable. You do it exactly because Your voices don’t matter. They know the deal is guaranteed to only pass Tory votes, let alone Labor backing it, so they can put on a big show of voting against it without fear of consequences.
And if you’re not sure, take a moment and honestly consider whether the SNP would vote against the deal if their votes mattered.
Imagine if you had the balance of power. Imagine if parliamentary arithmetic was something like it was before last year’s elections, and so the way the SNP voted would determine whether the UK left the EU with a bad deal or no deal at all.
Look into your hearts, readers, and tell us honestly that one of you thinks that the SNP has the courage to vote on its “principles” to condemn and face the ruinous disaster of the no-deal, both Britain and Scotland to the media storm on both sides of the border that would surely surrender.
Of course they wouldn’t. A little over a year ago, they didn’t even have the bottle to vote for the general election, which they had been clamoring for for weeks. They abstained (behind a pathetic fig leaf of a three day disagreement about the date) and let others take responsibility for what went on, just as they will do next week by NOT abstaining.
(Readers may not remember doing the same thing in 2017.)
This site, by and large, detests itself. We criticized Labor extensively for doing it, rightly in the circumstances, and the SNP for doing it during the elections. There are very few cases where it is justified for an MP to refuse to express an opinion, but this is one of them.
The government is clearly obliged to vote for its own policies. Labor’s position is at least honorable to defend in the interests of the country, the worst of two terrible options. And it cannot be overlooked that the country in question clearly voted for Brexit not only in the referendum but also in the elections last year.
Now the SNP represents Scotland, not Britain, and the people of Scotland have overwhelmingly and repeatedly voted to stay. But because the SNP hasn’t taken a single step towards independence in the past four and a half years, Scotland is still in the UK, and that means an exit without a deal would be as disastrous for Scotland as it would be for England, Wales and Northern Ireland ( if not more). The rest is no longer on the table. It’s not an option. It is this deal or not a deal.
So there is no way on earth that the SNP would have voted or should have voted against this deal in the eleventh hour if it risks defeating it and by default bringing about a no-deal Brexit. That means, however, that their “principles” are a shameful lie, because their vote will have absolutely nothing to do with principles and everything with cheap and filthy politics.
Ironically, by acting in such dishonest and selfish manner, they will show that they really are Westminster. And for those of us who once believed there was something fundamentally different about them – who really thought they went to London to settle down, not to settle down – the reality is heartbreaking.
We wish we could end up with the famous Orwell quote from Animal Farm that we can’t tell the difference between pigs and men. But the truth is that it’s worse. On that occasion, the SNP ceded moral superiority to Labor, and that is something we have hoped we will never see again.