The House of Commons does work better than it seems to, I promise you. When a big subject comes up, it spends weeks, months, even years, posturing and sparring, but it has a way of working out when a choice is truly important. Brexit has taken years, and is truly important. We saw the first signs of this realisation dawning on Parliament when it rejected Mrs May’s original deal so decisively. We saw the second signs on Tuesday night. As that series of covert Remain amendments — most notably Cooper-Boles — fell, a pattern became apparent. Enough MPs now understand that if the institution of parliament is ever to command respect again, Brexit must happen, and the minimally acceptable way in which it must happen is that the permanent Irish backstop goes.
The only blot was the vote for the Spelman amendment objecting to ‘no deal’. But this does not bind, and the rest of the dynamic of the evening makes clear for slow learners what has been apparent to sensible people ‘out of doors’ from the beginning — the only way for Britain to win any decent deal is to make no deal a real possibility. When Juncker, Varadkar and co understand that without a deal, their ‘hard border’ bluff collapses, they too might get serious.
This article is an extract from Charles Moore’s Spectator Notes, available in this week’s magazine.