Thursday, 2 February 2017

Reading This Right

If the result of the EU referendum was a vindication of the economic vision of someone like Daniel Hannan, then Leave won in all the wrong places.

As, for that matter, did Remain, of which more anon.

The same is at least broadly true of immigration.

The one specific promise made by the Leave campaign to those who, unlike me, would not necessarily have voted Leave anyway, was that there would be an extra £350 million per week for the NHS.

But there is no mention of that in today's White Paper, which has bizarrely been published on the day after Second Reading of the Bill to which it relates.

In view of this omission, and having indicated its acceptance of the referendum result by voting for Second Reading, Labour ought to vote against Third Reading.

That would constitute a challenge to Conservatives such as Neil Carmichael, who has broken cover today.

Until 2010, his seat of Stroud was held by the admirable Labourite David Drew, who was still only 4,866 votes short when he sought to recapture it in 2015.

I for one would very much like to see Drew back in Parliament. But Carmichael clearly has other worries, and he has good cause to have them.

Every constituency in a Remain area, but for which the MP voted for Second Reading last night, is now a Liberal Democrat target seat.

Overwhelmingly, those MPs are Conservatives in the South of England.

Using the NHS excuse to abstain, at least, at Third Reading might very well be their last hope of remaining in Parliament after 2020.

It might also be enough to kill this Bill.

Thereby requiring the Government to produce one that did indeed honour the result of the referendum: withdrawal from the EU, leading to an extra £350 million per week for the NHS.

Or face defeat at the polls overall by the party that would do precisely that.

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