Monday 13 November 2017

Losing the plot

This was the lead story on tonight's BBC One News at Six:
Good evening and welcome to the BBC's News at Six. Ever since the Brexit vote MPs on all sides of the Commons have been demanding a greater say in how it's achieved. Today the Government appears to have offered a major concession. The Brexit Secretary David Davis says a vote on the final deal will be guaranteed by a new piece of legislation. Labour has called it "a climb-down". But the offer came with a warning: If MPs do vote against the deal, whatever it is, the Government says that Britain will still leave the EU, but without an agreement. 
And it wasn't just Labour calling it "a climb-down". The BBC's political editor Laura Kuenssberg herself openly called it "this climb-down" too - thus rendering the BBC's dubious 'degrees of separation' framing ("So-and-so has called it...") utterly redundant:
That's not what this climb-down from the government is really about. 
But was it "a climb-down" though? Or was it, in fact, nothing particularly new? 

I heard this story today and thought, "Er, isn't this old news?". I just couldn't work out why it was being presented as an earth-shattering piece of 'breaking news' that was bringing this tottering government tottering ever nearer to its total destruction. 

Yes, David Davis said a specific piece of legislation will be put forward to confirm Parliament's final say, but Theresa May said that Parliament would get the final say ages ago.

And, as Alan notes, the Brexit minister David Jones told Parliament in February that Parliament would get the final say on whatever Brexit deal emerged and that the vote would be either to accept the deal or to accept no deal (see the Guardian's account here). 

So what's exactly dramatically new about this story? And why are the BBC joining Labour in making such a big fuss about a Government climb-down here?

Help please! I really don't get it. Are me and Alan missing something? Or are the likes of Laura K (and Nick R) engaging in some kind of collective BBC reporting 'amnesia' (or something much worse)? 

Any answers from you will (as ever) be gratefully received. 


  1. Parliament can vote whenever it wants on whatever it wants provided there is a majority in parliament for it.

    When push comes to shove Parliament always holds the whip over the executive.

    1. But the Whips are party-owned.

  2. Laura and Nick likely do get ushered up to the gilded halls at the top of w1a more often than many, so likely can acquire the odd selective amnesia such as the Pollard Report revealed exists in high places.

    I am however currently savouring the further melt down of Nick R on Twitter, not least because he appears to have a fraction of the factual grasp Rob B can at least bring to an outraged fit of the vapours about wicked slurs (well, examples) to Aunty's reputation.


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