What is a MEANINGFUL vote worth at Westminster?

Meaningful debate?

By Russell Bruce

The crisis in EU negotiations within May’s dysfunctional party and government rumbles on and on. The inability of presenting solid proposals to the EU is accompanied by a determination to prevent the Westminster Parliament from having a final say on a deal about which nobody can even get the remotest idea of what might or might not emerge.

We saw the disdain dished out to Scotland last week. Now May is planning to treat the Westminster Parliament with the same distain. When they came for the Scots I did not stand up … you know how this goes.

A two-year programme of negotiations was supposed to end in October this year. A mere four months away. Meanwhile 27 European governments and EU negotiators are thunderstruck, amused, bemused in incomprehension at the inability of the UK government to agree with itself.

An agreed plan was to be ready this autumn so EU member parliaments could study the detail of the deal during the following six months prior to voting on it. Were those to be meaningful votes? Wallonia voted to block CETA, the EU Canada trade deal. So no assurance that a deal, if there will be one, would pass though the parliaments of 27 member states and various regional parliaments though not Scotland’s.

The focus today is on MPs. Will they have the backbone to stand up and ensure they have the right to reject a bad deal or a no deal scenario? According to Westminster lore parliament is sovereign, not the monarch or the executive. May is demanding sovereign powers over an unpredictable outcome that will have cataclysmic consequences for the UK economy including the economy of Scotland.

Charles 1 (1600-1649 reigned from 1625 until his execution) insisted he was only answerable to God – not parliament. That did not end well for him. Does May too believe she is only answerable to God?

Boris Johnson last week bumbled assurances of plain sailing out of the EU then admitted ‘meltdown’ would be a ‘temporary inconvenience’ to the economy.

The vote on whether there is a meaningful vote at the end of the process is said to be very tight with both sides believing they will win. Labour MPs in Brexit voting constituencies are being targeted by government whips, using, it is reported, strong-arm tactics. The vote later today at Westminster is nothing to do with whether the UK leaves the EU or not but how it leaves. If Corbyn cannot ensure all Labour MPs vote against Tory government executive power demands he has no future.

The meaningful vote is TODAY. The one at the end of a process on how the UK disengages from the EU will have no meaning unless the government is defeated in a few hours time. If a handful of Labour MPs throw away parliament’s right to have a final and meaningful say in the months to come they are voting for the reinstatement of Charles I powers.

So strongly do a handful of Tory MPs feel on this issue they claim they are willing to bring down their own government if need be. We will see if they follow through this time. There is no expectation Scots Tory MPs will prove other than a flock of sheep bending over to the will of the whips.

Today is another test of Westminster’s disregard for an inclusive democracy. If it cannot achieve that for the rights of all the nations and peoples of the UK they are not worth a shit.

Later Scotland will have its say. Our parliament and our people will not be bound to a union of unequals that demands such intolerance, lack of choice and voice. If MPs do not speak up today they deprive the people and the great, great granny of parliaments a voice on a process that will end in a multitude of unintended and unknown consequences.

UPDATE 16.20 Westminster just decided it wasn’t worth a shit. Government won giving May Charles I divine right of Theresa power for an unknown Brexit outcome.

Government 319 Democracy 303



  1. Russell

    First of all let me advise you that “disdain” is spelt with two “d”s and no “t”s.

    Parliament has already had three enormously “meaningful” votes on our EU exit. Firstly, Parliament approved the Lisbon Treaty itself which contained Article 50. We were not asked our opinion of that immense constitutional change. You do not appear worried. You`ll have had your “meaningful vote” then! Article 50 provides that an EU member can leave the EU by issuing a confirmation in accordance with its own constitution. There are then 2 years for negotiations and a deal is or is not done in that time. If there is no deal, the member leaves with no deal. The departing member has no power to unilaterally recall the notice or extend negotiations. So our Parliament cannot reject any offered deal later this year and insist on a new deal. That is a fantasy. It is not “meaningful.”

    Secondly, Parliament voted to take the question of our EU membership to the British people and ABIDE BY THE RESULT. The people voted to Leave. ( just in case you had forgotten)

    Thirdly, Parliament voted to trigger Article 50.

    The only possible further participation of Parliament is to approve or reject any deal negotiated by the UK Government. If they reject, there is no deal. That is the unalterable logic of Article 50.

    As I write, the Grieve amendment has failed but another fudge has arisen.

    • William
      Thanks for pointing out the typo now corrected. Article 50 was drawn up after Greenland decided to leave the EU . It offers little clarity on process but we are where we are. The reasonable assumption was the government would have a clear strategy on the course it would follow. That has not been the case. May does not have her party behind whatever she hopes to achieve. The UK did not vote for this mess or the lack of a deal at the end of the process wherever that might end.

      Scotland did not vote to leave the EU and all evidence suggests that is still the view in Scotland. Because the UK is the member state Scotland will leave with the UK but has other choices to follow a different future course of action.

  2. Russell

    The UK voted to leave the EU and that means following Article 50. That is the only way to leave. There is a two year period either with or without a deal. The Europhiles wanted the Lisbon Treaty and Article 50 is what they are stuck with. The British people were not asked whether they wanted Article 50 or QMV.

    You know full and well and Scotland voted for the UK to Remain AND NOTHING ELSE. Why do you keep on repeating that nonsense?

  3. William
    Because it is not nonsense. Had Scotland voted to Leave the position would be different. But we did not and therefore Scotland has options and that means we must first vote for independence to follow up on what Scotland’s relationship would be with the EU post independence. First we need to see what agreement, if any, the UK is capable of achieving in negotiations. There remains no clear or agreed strategy from May’s government. She has messed around for two years since the vote and triggered Article 50 before coming to a strategy.

  4. Russell

    The fact that Scotland voted for the UK to REMAIN has no constitutional implications for the Brexit process but you are right that it has huge implications for Indy ref 2. Sturgeon has a weak and shaky mandate for a new vote.
    Indy ref 2 cannot be won until Brexit is over and that arguably will only be the case at the end of the Transition Period ( if there is one). By then our politics will have changed as will the SNP’s view of the EU. None of us wants a hard border at Berwick.

    The UK has, as you imply, made a pig’s ear of Brexit but that is because the Government is run by Remainers who are trying to sabotage the process. The inconclusive election of 2017 also did not help. Hopefully, we will now see a clearer approach which will mean we take back control of our laws, borders and money.


  5. I for one would like a hard border at Berwick if it protected Scotland from imported cheap chlorinated chicken and hormone enhanced beef products. I would also be happy with it to protect the origin of specific Scottish product as under current EU legislation that looks likely would be a casualty of a trade deals with the US.

  6. Jimmy

    I lived in the USA for seven years and I ate chlorinated chicken on numerous occasions. It is another stupid scare story. Even the EU Food Standards Agency agrees that it is safe as houses. North Americans eat hormone enhanced products all the time and not one problem has ever been reported. Presumably you do not go very far on holidays? Pictland?

    I see that Russell has described the result of yesterday`s vote as being for an “unknown Brexit outcome”. Russell, I already explained how Article 50 works. You cannot compel the EU to come to a sensible deal anymore than you can compel Brazil to win the World Cup. Would you need to know the shape of a final Scottish independence deal before you voted for Scottish independence? It is just pure nonsense.


    • I am with Jimmy on the chlorinated chicken and hormone meat products. If you are going to post to this site please drop the sarcasm. The Pictland jibe was unnecessary.
      Yes I got your explanation of Article 50 but there are other interpretations although none likely to be available to Mrs May the way things are going.
      I respect your experience of being in the States but the fact remains the US has an appalling record of food hygiene throughout the food chain. I wrote about this a while ago and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism followed up and their findings were published in The Guardian. It is not that there are no regulations in the US just the inspectors work on self certification in many states when inspecting abattoirs, due largely to a lack of people to do the job properly.

      You wrote “Hopefully, we will now see a clearer approach which will mean we take back control of our laws, borders and money.” This is much repeated by those of you anxious for a hard Brexit but none of which is entirely possible in an interconnected and interdependent world. I would be interested to hear how you think control of laws, borders and money would actually work for an isolated England.

  7. Newsroom

    If “Pictland” is too sarcastic then I apologise. Keep that high moral line in mind when you talk about Westminster and Tories.

    I lived in the USA for seven years. I was first a student and then worked in oil and gas. My business was not food hygiene but then again not many people’s is. The idea that the US is some clear and present danger to our lives and limbs simply sounds funny.

    I did not spend one moment worrying about food safety and I almost never had a day’s illness. I never knew or heard of anyone who got ill from food. Still, what would I know with experts like you guys around?

    An example of countries which have never “given up control” over their money, borders and laws are Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and come to think of it, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Singapore, and numerous others.
    But it seems like we are “too wee, too daft, too stupid”. Britain, sixth largest economy in the World, may be totally helpless in the modern World before the behemoth of the EU, but Scottish independence will work out just fine? And it will be meaningful.

    Isn’t there a contradiction there?

    No Brexiteer is against international treaties per se. I am a strong supporter of NATO. But handing our country over the EU oligarchy? Not me.


  8. Well, I work in food safety. I’m no expert but it’s my job and I keep any eye on events around the world as no country is an island, in food terms anyway.
    The US isn’t appallingly bad but for a first world country with many, many resources including money, they are not the best. Size may be a factor in this with different states having different rules, however it’s ALL about the bottom line for their large food companies at the expense of safety. Yes, we get that here in the UK sometimes but the US would introduce techniques that we currently do not allow. For example, they wash their eggs prior to displaying for retail sale.
    Who knew cereal could be so dangerous?


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