If you are a Reaction reader who does not take The Guardian, either in paper form or on the digital intertubes, on account of not wanting to read the ravings of assorted Communists who pollute the pages otherwise occupied by excellent journalists, can I draw your attention to a piece published there on Tuesday?
Rock music critics used to be mocked for using the word “seminal” to describe an innovative album, and it is not a word I will use here.
However, Henry Newman, the boss of the think tank Open Europe, has produced a piece that could have impact. He has had a go at saving Brexit, or rather at finding several compromises that might be approved by the EU and enable Brexiteers to vote for an ammended version of May’s deal.
Other than all out hardline Brexiteers – the 25 or so dedicated to going down in flames like a scene from Pacific War film Tora! Tora! Tora! – Tory MPs who dislike the deal are looking for a few changes that allow them to hold their noses and vote for it.
As Newman says:
When the prime minister meets EU leaders she should level with them and admit that the domestic reaction to the deal has been worse than she expected.
At cabinet last week, her chief whip told ministers the DUP would abstain and predicted the deal would pass the Commons. That no longer seems plausible at this point, with dozens of Conservatives lined up to vote it down.
So Theresa May should tell the assembled dignitaries that the deal is a dead duck, unless there can be limited but substantive changes to the withdrawal agreement and a significant development of the political declaration.
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Henry Newman is well-connected and I doubt he floated his suggestions without some discussion with Number 10 and leading Leavers.
There are three tweaks he suggests to the language on Northern Ireland, one introducing a guarantee via the Northern Ireland institutions, a protection on NI/GB trade rules and – the key one – a new approach to ending the backstop, stressing that it only applies as long as the EU is working in good faith to do a deal.
Anyway, read the whole thing. It might – might – be the beginning of a compromise that gets the Tories and the country out of a hole.