The chaos in the House of Commons on 29th January had two major Conservative Party motivations. First of all from No.10 by the overriding objective of this government to keep the Conservative Party, however temporarily, together, whatever the cost to the United Kingdom. That was the underlying purpose of the Brady amendment (from the perspective of No.10) which required ‘alternative arrangements’ to be put in place to the backstop guarantees for Northern Ireland contained in the Withdrawal Agreement. The second objective, shared by the European Reform Group (ERG) of extreme Brexiters and their allies, was to undermine the Withdrawal Agreement and open the way to a ‘no deal’ result. The ERG is quite aware that the Brady amendment will be rejected by the European Union. They cheerfully believe they can sit on their hands for a few more weeks creating diversions and distractions for the media, as the clock ticks down, and they push the UK out of the EU with no deal. They can then turn round and blame the EU for the subsequent disaster that would be ‘no deal’.
Author:Alan Riley, Senior Fellow Atlantic Council, Washington DC