Parliament in grip of turmoil

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The shambolic chaos that’s surrounded Brexit for months has suddenly morphed into something approaching panic.

eople, whether for or against Brexit, have suddenly realised that the critical vote on the Prime Minister’s much-maligned deal is now only hours away.

Theresa May herself has warned of catastrophe if her deal is rejected - which at the time of writing seems likely. And those opposed to it use no less scary language about the state of the nation if it is passed.

Meanwhile, groups of conspiratorial MPs are meeting in shadowy corners plotting to do the Government down if they can. And Sir John Major, who is opposed to Brexit, says there is no happy ending to falling off a cliff.

In short, Parliament is in the grip of turmoil as never before. A motion of no confidence in the Prime Minister is expected if her plan fails.

A momentous week lies ahead for Westminster. And a nerve-wracking one for the Prime Minister personally. I trust Mr May will have a large Scotch at the ready for her in case of emergencies.

- Is Commons Speaker John Bercow a hero of Parliament, or a serious pain in the neck? Bercow has attracted admiration and fury for allowing a pro-Remainer amendment, which depletes the Government’s authority over dealing with Brexit if the Prime Minister’s deal is defeated on Tuesday. No other Speaker within living memory has endured such a rocky ride. His impartiality has been questioned and he has been accused of siding with Remainers at the expense of the Government, while he and his supporters claim he is merely trying to protect the interests of back-benchers. He has not surrendered an inch in the face of some of the barrage of criticism aimed at him, insisting he is not usurping his authority and continually expressing his conviction: “I am right.” And although he is said to have ignored the advice of parliamentary clerks, Bercow has now acquired the support of Jeremy Corbyn.

Whether he can sustain the level of criticism he has attracted remains to be seen. But he has certainly made his mark on the chair - even if his critics regard that mark as a blot.