THE SHAMBOLIC scenes in the House of Commons when the Government unveiled its Brexit White Paper show, once again, why Theresa May made a political – and strategic – error at the outset of her premiership by not forming a cross-party team to preside over the country’s departure from the European Union.
After all, the Brexit referendum divided each of the main parties in equal measure and raised far-reaching concerns for the country’s economic future. Yet, by going it alone, Mrs May has allowed her Government to become the focus of Tory discontent while Labour simply snipes from the sidelines.
Though some have advocated a national government in the wake of David Davis and Boris Johnson’s resignations, it’s too late because there’s so little trust and faith in the Prime Minister’s chaotic administration.
And while the Cabinet is – for now – advocating a pro-business Brexit that retains close ties with the EU, it will depend on the acquiescence of some of the more pragmatic Opposition MPs to counter the size of the likely rebellion from Mrs May’s more Eurosceptic backbenchers.
However this will not happen if the Government persists with its cavalier attitude which saw Parliament suspended yesterday – and Dominic Raab, the new Brexit Secretary, left embarrassed – after it emerged that MPs had not been given drafts of the White Paper when the media had, in fact, been briefed three hours earlier.
This was compounded by Mr Raab’s statement not being sent in advance to his Labour counterpart Sir Keir Starmer, as is customary.
It was an inauspicious start by the new Brexit Secretary when he faces the unenviable task of selling the Government’s blueprint to Parliament and the EU – a document that’s also not entirely compatible with his own pro-Leave stance in the referendum. Things can only get better, can’t they?