Most of the commentariat don’t seem to get this point. And neither do most people, apart from Leavers who’ve been paying attention. No Parliamentary vote was needed for No Deal. All Theresa May had to do was not ask the EU for the delay. She was not required to ask for a delay by the recent Parliamentary vote concerning a delay, because that was not binding. And Parliament had already signalled its commitment to No Deal by a proper Act of Parliament (the European Union (Withdrawal) Act of 2018. So nothing was required to achieve it, merely the absence of a request would have done.
I write this after reading a column on Brexit by Andrew Roberts. Roberts, as far as I can tell, is a fine man, a seriously distinguished scholar, and has pretty much the same views as me. The column is excellent and I would heartily recommend it, except for this puzzling bit:
When it finally became unavoidably clear that the Remain-supporting Parliament, led by its Speaker, was intent on subverting the clearly-expressed will of the people, Mrs May should have called another vote of confidence in her Government like the one she won on January 16. After facing down her Remainer rebels and winning, she could then, as is her constitutional right, have asked The Queen to prorogue Parliament until April 1. By the time Parliament reconvened, Brexit would have happened, most probably using a series of sensible bilateral deals to preserve a trading status quo that benefits everyone.
There was no need for Theresa May to call for a vote of confidence, or ask the Queen prorogue Parliament, if she had wanted No Deal. All she would have needed to do in that case was not ask for the delay. And not present the SI that modified the exist date to Parliament. That’s it. Keep the conveyor belt of preparatory No Deal legislation going, obviously, but nothing else was required. Parliament couldn’t force her to delay. And as the saying goes, you can’t take No Deal off the table, because No Deal is the table, so she just needed to take her wretched WA off the table, and wait.
The same applies now. A No Deal Brexit is the default on April 12 UNLESS May asks for another extension (assuming she doesn’t get some bullshit deal through before then). She has to actively stop No Deal for it not to happen, and that is what she is doing. Technically, she is still the one with the power, despite all her loss of authority. She still holds the future on the country in her hands. She is the one actively preventing No Deal. She keep saying ‘There’s a risk Brexit may be cancelled’, but the only one who can cancel it is her.
There are lots of traitors in Parliament at the moment, and in the civil service (the ones advising May in particular), but in the end she is the Queen of the Traitors. She is the one stopping Brexit, not the DUP or the ERG.