Boris has done better than I ever imagined.
First the EU refused to re-open Withdrawal Agreement negotiated by the former PM, insisting that it was the only deal on the table, nevertheless Boris did indeed get them to re-open it and negotiate a new one.
Second, he managed to do as he promised, and remove the ‘backstop’ from the agreement, contrary to all the expectations of the commentators. (This achievement is critical because it was the backstop that would have kept us within the regulatory jurisdiction of the EU indefinitely, until a solution to the Irish border had been agreed and implemented).
Third, he managed to get the bill implementing the new agreement a significant majority at second reading.
The very size of the majority however, made me doubt its validity.
This is confirmed by the fact that within minutes of having given the bill that majority, the Commons threw out the timetable motion which would have enabled the bill to complete its parliamentary stages in time and allow us to leave the EU, as promised, on 31 October.
Clearly, a number of members who supported the bill at second reading then withdrew their support by rejecting the timetable. This enables them to face their constituents with a fig leaf: they can say that they supported BREXIT in principle, but that this complex piece of legislation needed more time for proper parliamentary scrutiny.
Scrutiny is a euphemism for delay.
There is only one part of the agreement that is actually new (though I grant that it is the vitally important part concerning arrangements for Northern Ireland). As for the rest, we’ve been debating it for months and years.
I have sat in the Commons listening to the same members, making the same speeches, again and again, and again.
The real objective of those who demand more time to subject the bill to their scrutiny, is actually to amend it, and to amend it in ways that it no longer implements the agreement that has been made with the EU. Principally, they want to amend it so that we remain within a full customs union with the EU. This, of course, will require negotiations to be re-opened to change the agreement so that it reflects the legislation passed by Parliament – and so the whole wretched cycle can start all over again.
Finally, having made yet another agreement, they want to subject it to a further referendum, prolonging the uncertainty for many more months.
It’s all very well the Archbishop asking us to moderate our language, but sometimes it’s best to call a spade exactly that. Parliament really is determined to resist the will of the people.