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by Mandy Rhodes
23 December 2018
Theresa May is blackmailing the UK with the threat of a no-deal Brexit

Image credit: David Anderson

Theresa May is blackmailing the UK with the threat of a no-deal Brexit

The Mother of All Parliaments descended into pantomime last week when, amid what is fast becoming its stupidest hour, our parliamentarians focused not on the biggest crisis we face since the Second World War, but on whether Jeremy Corbyn had called Theresa May a ‘stupid woman’.

Let’s first assume that Corbyn did mouth ‘stupid woman’ at the PM and ask whether that would then qualify him, as some have argued, as a raging misogynist, or whether in the context of the hour, he was just simply stating a truth?

Then let’s ponder on the fact that MPs, stupidly, felt it was proportionate to spend over two hours of parliamentary time arguing about what may or may not have been said and that was two hours more than they spent debating Brexit.

And then let’s examine the evidence to support a claim of stupidity.

A government that is causing panic with warnings that a no-deal Brexit could prompt shortages of fuel, food, medicine and water and that ports will be in gridlock and airplanes grounded.

A health secretary quipping that he could fast become the biggest buyer of fridges to store hoarded medical supplies, an international development secretary suggesting that her department could take control because of its experience in emergency provision overseas, and a defence secretary putting 3,500 troops on standby in case of civil disorder.

We are being pushed into a state of fear where the objective is clear – avoid a no-deal Brexit by supporting Theresa May’s very bad deal.

Does anyone need to remind this stupid government that this kind of political blackmail can spiral out of control? Do they need reminding that in 2012 when then cabinet secretary, Francis Maude, advised people to fill up jerrycans with petrol in preparation for a possible strike by tanker drivers, the panic buying that ensued led to one woman suffering 40 per cent burns after she caught fire decanting petrol in her kitchen?

Let’s also then give pause of thought to think about the homeless man who was found dying next to an entrance to the House of Commons, on the same day that politicians inside were embroiled in this stupidest of rows.

Let’s also contemplate the injustice of the fact that the man, who died, was sleeping on the streets, even though he had a job as a hospital porter – because having a job these days doesn’t mean you can afford a home.

And while our elected members howled in faux outrage over a comment made so silently that lip readers were recruited in by television stations to try and clarify what was actually said, nearly 5,000 disabled people were found to have been wrongly stripped of their welfare benefits, the numbers of children living in poverty rose, there were calls for the increasing number of assaults on rough-sleepers to be classed as hate crime, and the numbers referred to food banks hit an all-time high.

Whether Corbyn mouthed ‘stupid woman’ or not does not concern me. What concerns me is a government that has so abdicated from any sense of reality that it would rather whip up synthetic outrage over a word than deal with a looming disaster. That isn’t just stupid, it’s plain idiocy.

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Read the most recent article written by Mandy Rhodes - Fiona Hyslop: The feeling of unity is already palpable in the SNP.

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