This evening, Parliament rejected Theresa May’s Brexit deal by a punishing margin of 432 to 202. What was it about this plan that made it so unpalatable to MPs on both sides of the House?
Below is a guideline to some of the sticking points.
It was too long
At 585 pages, the deal would be a challenging bedtime read for anyone, but those pages are only two inches wide each, meaning that the document is literally very, very long. MPs complained of having to drape it over their shoulders, like, in the words of one SNP backbencher, “a boring python.”
All the padding
Whole sections of the document appeared to have been copied and pasted from other sources, in some cases quite obviously. Key culprits include Chapter 8: The Boggart in the Wardrobe, Chapter 31, Aboard the Hogwarts Express, and page 204, which gives a series of international addresses to write to if you have a problem with your George Forman Grill. Also, pages 120-124 appear to be squares that have been cut out of a mattress protector.
All the ‘legalese’
Where a more expertly assembled document might contain legal terms, May’s deal eschews complicated technical language and simply uses the word ‘legalese’ instead, sometimes several times in a row. An example is, “Because the legalese a hard border on the island of Ireland, legalese legalese legalese legalese.” Perhaps more confusingly, in an unhelpful departure from convention, the document, “in an effort not to be divisive,” uses the terms ‘UK’ and ‘EU’ interchangeably. This leads to baffling constructions like, “When the EU has left the EU, the UK will continue to trade with the remaining countries of the UK either individually or via the UK as a whole.”
It didn’t travel well.
Most commentators have read electronic copies, which means that the pop-up sections will have lost much of their impact and charm.
The text continuously anthropomorphises the so-called ‘Backstop’ to the Irish border question, with phrases like, “…which will surely displease Mister Backstop,” and, “…because Mister Backstop doesn’t want you to go.”
It was highly allergenic
No one knows what possessed the Prime Minister to print her proposal on gluten-rich paper in an ink containing peanut dust, but MPs couldn’t tolerate it – literally, in some cases!
It’s an unsettling read
The text of the Deal begins, “If you are reading this, then I am dead, and the Unspoken Realm has been breached.” Add to that the fact that it’s bound in a leather that looks a lot like a human face distorted in agony, and you start to see why MPs didn’t warm to it.