Brexit: The past seven days
The lull before the storm of the local elections saw yet more Brexit in-fighting as Tory and Labour MPs pointed fingers at colleagues they said would damage their party’s chances by being too Remain, too Leave, or too stuck on the fence.
So what has happened and what will happen next?
– Days to go
181, if Brexit comes on the latest deadline of October 31. Or 58, if ratification happens in time for the UK to leave on June 30 and avoid the need for MEPs to take up their seats.
– What happened this week?
Labour’s National Executive Committee decided more fudge was the answer to the Brexit problem, going into the council elections on a manifesto designed to appeal to both Leave and Remain voters – but which ended up not appealing enough to either as the party lost more than 100 seats despite expecting gains.
Meanwhile, the Tories’ cross-party talks with Labour continued without any breakthrough and Theresa May faced a savage grilling from the Liaison Committee on Wednesday over her continuing failure to compromise on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill.
Even an apparent pact of silence on Brexit ahead of Thursday’s votes was not enough to stop the Conservatives haemorrhaging more than 1,000 council seats.
– What happens next?
There are murmurs the Government talks with Labour could see a breakthrough on a deal next week ahead of the European elections – but shockingly bad council results for both main parties will have an impact.
Labour will set out its Euro election manifesto early next week. Supporters of another referendum, who have so far been on the losing side, have been tight-lipped on its contents.
Mrs May appears to have privately conceded she has run out of time to prevent the European elections from happening. However, she is still holding out hope she can get a Brexit deal through before UK MEPs have to take their seats in Brussels.
– Good week
Sir Vince Cable
The Lib Dem leader was the biggest winner in the local elections, with his party winning about 600 seats, the biggest number of any party. Set against a “bloodbath” of losses for the two main parties, Sir Vince credited the success to their clear stance against Brexit and demand for a People’s Vote.
– Bad week
Labour’s deputy leader lost his battle for a clear Euro manifesto pledge for a second referendum on any deal at Labour’s National Executive Committee.
Jeremy Corbyn and his allies pledged to only seek a new vote if Labour cannot enact its own Brexit plan or force changes to Theresa May’s own strategy.
– Quote of the week
Labour MP Yvette Cooper clashed with Theresa May over her handling of Brexit negotiations at the Liaison Committee, telling her: “Resilience is a strength but stubbornness is a weakness”.
– Tweet of the week
“The only parties that did well in the #LocalElections2019 are unambiguously pro-Remain. The message is clear. We need to square up to the country and tell the truth. Brexit is a disaster and the Leave campaign lied to you.” Labour MP David Lammy.
– Word of the week
Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom told Labour MP Chris Bryant he “could certainly be a munchkin” if she was the Wizard of Oz.
The bizarre exchange came after Mr Bryant complained Brexit business had dragged the current parliamentary session out to 296 days – the longest session since the Glorious Revolution in 1688.