Time for Davidson and Mundell to live up to their 'principles' on Brexit - Lesley Laird

The art of the resignation. You’ve either got it, or you haven’t.

Whether on a point of principle, Machiavellian manoeuvring to depose a wounded leader, or even a bit of both, Tory ministers have been putting a lot of practice in these past few weeks.

But for others, the real art is in the “unresignation”. And the undisputed masters are David Mundell and Ruth Davidson.

The beauty of the unresignation is that it can be practised again and again without fear of personal consequence.

Here’s how it seems to work... Tell people you have a red line, say on Brexit. Then as that line gets closer, or as it has been this week, spectacularly crossed, simply redraw the line based on the crumbs you have been thrown.

Like having unlimited lives in a computer game, David and Ruth’s principles have been sacrificed over and over. And the only losers now are the people of Scotland.

In a letter to the Prime Minister just a few weeks ago, they wrote that they could not countenance “any backstop or final deal that creates a border of any kind in the Irish Sea and undermines the Union or leads to Northern Ireland having a significantly different relationship with the EU than the rest of the UK beyond what currently exists”.

Well, if a week is a long time in politics, what a difference a month makes.

Let’s not overstate David Mundell’s importance in the grand scheme of things. As Scotland’s invisible man in Cabinet he clearly wouldn’t even want to do that himself.

But the shambolic events of the recent past are the final, undeniable proof that the feeble 13 Scottish Tories have failed to deliver on any of their general election boasts to stand up for Scotland at Westminster.

Meanwhile the DUP have, in their own way, played a blinder, extracting a £1billion bung for Northern Ireland AND pulling the plug on their support for Theresa May’s minority regime anyway.

The DUP’s hypocrisy on differentiation when it comes to matters such as reproductive rights or marriage equality notwithstanding, they are right about one thing. Theresa May’s deal creates an artificial border in the Irish Sea. It crosses Ruth and David’s “red line”.

We are at a point of critical danger for the devolution settlement, whether the PM admits it or not. And the added danger comes when the very focus on recognising the specific needs of one part of our United Kingdom rides roughshod over all other considerations.

Labour has consistently argued for a comprehensive UK-wide customs union and a new single market arrangement. It’s the sixth of our six tests used to judge the Brexit deal. And just because Theresa May has spectacularly flunked the five other tests does not diminish her failure to deliver on what should have been a relatively straightforward solution.

As we wait for the Tory Party machine to decide the PM’s fate, we are left to contemplate the negotiation that might have been. From an internationalist, outward-looking Labour Party offering a constructive approach to delivering a deal.

Instead all we are left with a half-baked mess. The intellectual vacuum at the heart of Government has imploded. It’s time to put the power back in the hands of voters in a general election. Dare they?

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