The Withdrawal Bill is so utterly appalling that I suspect the reason people are not out protesting about it night after night is they simply cannot believe it. The notion of seizing primary legislation powers by Ministers who do not even command a majority would shame a Banana Republic.
Of course, this raises an obvious question. Since those Ministers do not command a majority, how can the Bill which seizes those powers be capable of commanding one? The answer is the DUP.
The DUP has a deal with the Conservatives that it will back the Government on confidence, supply, security and Brexit in return for extra spending (around £1 billion) in Northern Ireland over the next two years. Yet it became apparent yesterday that that spending has not been put into UK Treasury estimates. (Implicitly but clearly, it is being withheld until devolution is restored, but that is not the point here.)
One DUP MP followed the logic. If the money is not forthcoming, then the deal is “off”, he noted publicly.
If the deal is “off”, the DUP has no business giving the Government a majority to seize power for primarily legislation to a Cabinet made up solely of a minority party. Furthermore, this is not a confidence bill – voting against it does not bring down the Government, nor in fact does it block Brexit.
We are about to find out whether the DUP Parliamentary team has the courage to stand up to the Conservatives when deals are “off”. The answer will tell us much.