Due to this theoretically being a vacation, I am putting up what will sadly be a short Brexit post given the explosive events of September 2. But I am opening up comments to let our very well informed commentariat hash over the events of the day (and any new developments on Wednesday).
We did say that Johnson’s plan to prorogue Parliament looked like it would backfire by unifying the opposition. That happened faster than we expected.
Even though Boris Johnson may wind up being the shortest-lived Prime Minister evah, the press coverage on Parliament’s efforts to stop a no-deal Brexit is generally out over its skis.
As most of you know full well, the Government lost its one-seat majority by virtue of the former health minister Phillip Lee, a former health minister, abandoning the Tories to join the Liberal Democrats. The loss turned into a rout as 21 Tory MPs stood up to the Government’s threat to deselect them to support emergency legislation to bar a no-deal Brexit. Perhaps most important is that the revolting Tories have seized control of the Parliamentary agenda. From the Financial Times:
Last night’s vote saw the anti-no deal MPs seize control of the Commons order paper, allowing them to bring forward emergency legislation to block no-deal. MPs hope to rush it through all its Commons stages on Wednesday.
The problem is that the claim that the proposed legislation would stop a no-deal Brexit is false. All it does is kick the can down the road yet again. It would require the Prime Minister to seek an extension to January 31 if he had not secured an agreement with the EU by October 19. If the EU offers a different extension, Parliament has the right to reject it.
Johnson threatened to call for a general election, which the press treated as a damp squib, since Parliament has indicted it would not back one without its “no deal” legislation in place.
Perhaps I have missed something, but I don’t see this great jab at Johnson as advancing the no Brexit cause as far as enthusiasts would have us believe. The only ways out of a no-deal are still passing the Withdrawal Agreement or revoking Article 50. Will a three month delay that includes the Christmas-New Year holiday change the political dynamic that much, particularly if there’s not been a general election? Despite the bluster, Labour doesn’t want a general election because it would lose too many seats, and on top of that, even though the LibDems would gain, they don’t want to be second fiddle in a Corbyn-led coalition. Vlade gave this take, based on a new HuffPost seat-by-seat analysis:
Show Tories losing 6, Labour losing 20 seats. SNP gains 17, LD 9
So even with DUP, Tories would not be able to put together a government (321 seats). But neither could L+LD+SNP+PC+G (320). The only option there would be the discussed “Irish special”, where SF would trigger by-election in its seats allowing a non-partisan candidates stand, which would then mean a broad anti-Tory coalition could be done. But of course, does it solve anything?
– No, as if there’s no govt by 31 Oct, who agrees to any EU extension? (the EU offers, the UK agrees, technically EU would hate to offer something that could be turned down, so practically UK asks, EU offers, UK agrees)
– how long would any such coalition last? Even if it agreed on a new referendum, that would take 12-18 months and that government cannot stand still (mind you Tories managed to stand still for 3+ years now, so ..)
– it would be still just a few seats over, so extremely fragile. Not to mention that I very much doubt LD would be willing to swallow Corbyn (who just lost seats, and technically would have lost a second election in row) to be the PM.
– Corbyn having lost a second election in row would be under immense internal pressure, but at the same time his loayalists wouldn’t go away just so. Break up in Labour party could easily happen, in the same way as it’s tearing Tory party now.
– Labour would have to promise SNP referendum. How, when etc? How it interplays with any 2nd ref?
But what happens if Parliament passes it’s “no no deal now” legislation and Johnson refuses to take the request for an extension to the EU Council in October? Remember only a heads of state participate; Parliament has no standing in that body. Does Parliament then vote through a general election? And what happens then with respect for the needed extension?
It says something about the ineptitude of the collective that, on this one thing, Johnson is has got something right. Seeking an extension is indeed a “pointless waste of time”. It will achieve nothing, other than extend the agony and uncertainty of a nation which is waiting for a decision from its political leaders….
Nevertheless, as I remarked earlier, the game is not over. To see Johnson deposed is not automatically to be rid of him as prime minister. Unless, through the formal process of a vote of no confidence, a new government can be formed, the man remains in office while parliament is dissolved, while he gets to advise the Queen on the date for the general election.
In these circumstances, with the man hunkered down in the Downing Street bunker surrounded by his acolytes, anything could happen. Short of a real military coup, where troops are sent in to root him out, there doesn’t seem any other way we could get rid of him.
Things are set to get interesting, in the Chinese curse sense.