Most front benchers address the House. Gove and Watson command it. They could be the future

17 Jan 2019 at 11:04

Don’t be too mystified about that stream of silver that is trickling down the corridors of Westminster. It is the blood a dozen slain unicorns. Brexit is not dead, but it is not going to be of the brutal Mad Max Moggian variety. These fools have blown it through their piety and are nothing more than a sad joke. Threatening to vote their own government down? Pleeeease.Compromise is the new purity.

It is fashionable to say that politics is broken. It’s not. It’s evolving. That wise Old sage and constitutional expert, Peter Hennessy, remarked the other day that the true definition of the British Constitution is, ‘what happens’. Well, there’s a lot happening. Parliament is beginning to take back control. It is inevitable that article 50 will be extended and that No Deal will be shot at dawn. Yes, I know, these are matters only in the gift of the executive. At the moment. But if the beginnings of a compromise across the aisle can be thrashed out more time will be needed. That’s not a betrayal, it’s just common sense. And it will hopefully avoid another referendum which would be further evidence that Parliament is weak and clueless.

This is a time for politicians to shine. And none shone more brightly than Michael Gove and Tom Watson in the last few days. Articulate, thoughtful and had the House in the palms of their hands. Both front benches looked at them in envious awe. I used to think that Gove would be the kingmaker, but I have become more convinced over the months that he could be the king. It will be more difficult for Watson because of the cult of Corbyn. Nevertheless, both men have emerged as very big beasts and heavy weight leadership alternatives.

The Mayan era is drawing to a close. Tom Watson was right to say that nobody can doubt her perseverance, decency and sense of duty. But now is the time for big tent politics and Madame is just not equipped to work a room let alone be the ring master. She just can’t do it. So it is right that Liddington and Gove do the charm offensive and heavy lifting. Her deal has to be the beginnings of plan B. It was interesting to see that even Barry Gardiner agrees. And it would be wise not to slam Barnier for not setting aside a few hours this weekend for talks. They’ll talk when we have a united front on a policy.

So day by day power is draining from Number 10. There is no shame in that. She will be delighted when she heads off, job done. With the gratitude of her party and the country.

Corbyn and Sturgeon have taken the coward’s way out in not coming in to the tent. Yet they condemn Madame for being inflexible with their own inflexibility. This will go down very badly with the voters. The negotiations will continue with backbenchers who will eventually call the shots. How ironic that all the main party leaders have lost control.

But we have all seen a glimpse of the future. An executive that can really be held to account. We have also seen two throughly professional men at the very top of their game. Most frontbenchers address the House. Gove and Watson command it.

Both of them make the other leadership contenders look like pygmies. The Tory line up pales into irrelevance compared to the Gover. Hunt blew it at conference and his Singapore speech. Boris is dead in the water, Williamson has been a disappointment by chasing headlines. Only Javid is still in the race as a serious player. If he has any sense he will be part of a dream ticket. Gove for PM with Javid as his deputy and Chancellor. This could work. Whether it will is entirely another matter. But don’t forget that Gove and Watson have had their fair share of disastrous judgement failures. I hope that have learned from this. And who in politics dares to throw the first stone? But Gove as PM is worth a tenner at William Hill.

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