The House of Lords
Yesterday, the House of Lords passed a second amendment to the Brexit Notification Bill by 366 votes to 268. See this report in the Guardian: “House of Lords defeats government for second time on article 50 bill – Peers back Labour-led amendment by 366 to 268 to give parliament veto over final outcome of Brexit negotiations” and see also this report in the Financial Times: ”
This was a necessary and proper amendment to ensure that Parliament rather than the Executive has final control over the outcome of the Brexit negotiations. The Bill will now return to the House of Commons for the two amendments passed by the House of Lords to be considered.
Torygraph Telegraph has this: “Lord Heseltine sacked over dinner after Brexit rebellion but he admits ‘I’ve never even met Theresa May’“.
It has to be said that under Mrs May the Conservative Party is every day losing credibility as a “One Nation” party and morphing into something resembling UKIP. It is an increasingly worrying scenario.
One Nation Wisdom -v- UKIP Style Isolationism
It is worth comparing Lord Heseltine and Mrs May’s respective political careers.
(1) Lord Heseltine was born in 1933, Mrs May in 1956 (Heseltine +23);
(2) Lord Heseltine entered Parliament in 1966, Mrs May in 1997 (Heseltine +11);
(3) Lord Heseltine served under the leadership of Prime Ministers Heath, Thatcher & Major (all good leaders of the Party , Mrs May under Duncan Smith and Cameron (both failures);
(4) Lord Heseltine has held ministerial portfolios from 1972 to 1997 (25 years) while Mrs May has held ministerial portfolios from 2010 to 2016 (6 years);
(5) Lord Heseltine has held the portfolios for: Aerospace and Shipping, Trade and Industry, the Environment, Defence, First Secretary of State and Deputy Prime Minister while Mrs May has only held portfolios as Minister for Women and Equalities and Home Secretary.
In short, Lord Heseltine is older, vastly more experienced, and much more likely than Teresa May to understand the risks of Brexit. As a reward for doing his duty as a legislator, Mrs May has sacked him from some advisory posts.
As Paul Goodman writes on his Conservative Home Blog: “Thatcher didn’t dare sack Heseltine. But now May has done so.” and he concludes: ” Advisers are not Ministers, and so Heseltine’s defenestration was not formally necessary. But May clearly felt that a signal must be sent pour encourager les autres. As someone or other once put it, there is no alternative“.
It was good to see that there were a commentators on the post who felt differently:
(1) “Michael Heseltine would clash with Theresa May . He is man of principle, she is an empty self-serving creepy little bureaucrat. He is man who clearly understands the big picture in terms of prosperity and International security .She understands nothing but fatuous tokens like bringing back Grammar schools. He is one of heroes of Conservatism who fought the real danger of a relapse into collectivism , she has sold the Party out to UKIP with its BNP entryists and appointed a collection of perhaps the stupidest people to be found in any advanced Western country . – Michael Heseltine is everything a Conservative should be and once was, the sort of man you want on the board , to drive a Company forward with his vision energy and charisma . When I think of the tawdry light weights that are now floundering in the chaos they helped create it sickens me beyond all words that the very spirit of the old Conservative Party is no longer wanted. – He is concerned at the mess we bequeathed to young people. She is concerned about controlling the flow of paper clips and being able to tick off her fellow minnows . – This is a disgrace and a day of shame.”
(2) “And so the lurch to the Right continues, in an attempt to hoover up the swivel eyed ones from UKIP. Shame, I like Hezza, he talks sense as a moderate Conservative.”
(3) “I respect Heseltine and his right to speak (and vote) according to his beliefs. It’s a shame that his years of service to party and country did not prevent him from being removed as an advisor to the government over this issue. Also, quoting a French proverb seems inappropriate when we are presumably proposing to take back control of our language. In my opinion the Lords have done parliament a service in reminding members of the commons that the bill as currently worded means that they would only have two options at the end of the Brexit negotiations, take the government deal or WTO rules. It will now be up to the commons to decide whether they want to reconsider this issue. This is what we pay members of the Commons and the Lords to do, review, revise and approve legislation put forward by the executive. I am not saying that the amendment is right (or wrong) but that taking back control of our country from the EU means that Parliament actually has to decide how we are going to be governed and the limits Parliament wishes to put on the executive.”
Another Heseltine thread on the same site had these two comments:-
“May , it seems , cannot stand to have an old and respected Conservative stick to what has been Conservative Policy since the 60s. She is clearly insane. Michael Heseltine is a hero a principled man and an example to the invertebrate done nothing wafflers who infest government today , an inspiration to us all and if this is his last act on behalf of the country it was a fitting end to a quite magnificent career . That he should be treated this way …….. sickening.”
“The firing doesn’t make much sense. His skills and experience are as valuable to the government today as they were yesterday. An effect of the firing is to warn other people that they too will be fired if they think for themselves. But that’s what what weak leaders do, and it leads to a weakened government which is less and less able to recognize, create and implement disciplined and robust policies.”
The Guardian has this: “Michael Heseltine says Brexit is ‘man-sized’ task for Theresa May – Tory sacked as government adviser explains why he led Lords rebellion – and is chastised for comment about PM“.
It would be highly desirable if a sufficient number of Conservative Members in the House of Commons were to stand by the two very sensible amendments approved by the upper house. It is about time the Wicked Witch got her comeuppance.