This week’s Brexit drama was vitally important for Boris Johnson. And intentional or not he has maneuvered events to a very interesting inflection point.
The random acts of vandalism performed by Remainers on all sides of the political aisle in the House of Commons were, I think, invoked by Johnson himself strategically.
And I come to that conclusion for a number of reasons. The most compelling of which is that it saves the Conservative party and also potentially shores up the British ruling class which are in danger of losing their popular mandate. Achieving a meaningful Brexit is of secondary importance.
Brexit is the defining issue of the age. It has split the people and their government. This was the strategic plan of the European Union from the moment the referendum was announced.
If the vote succeeded the price for Brexit would be the validity of the British system of government. We have nearly reached that point.
The same choice has been laid in front of Americans over voting for Donald Trump. The tactics for getting there are slightly different but the strategic goal remains the same.
But, back to this week’s events and what led up to them.
- Boris Johnson comes into power without a political mandate, thanks to the British people’s hardening around getting on with Brexit.
- Jeremy Corbyn didn’t call for a Vote of No Confidence in Theresa May’s government because Labour would lose.
- To stave off the surge from Nigel Farage and the Brexit Party Johnson forms a Euroskeptic cabinet sure to panic Remainers.
- He then steps up the rhetoric of a No-Deal Brexit on Halloween come what may.
- Farage smartly sees what Boris is doing and steps up plans for the Brexit Party to challenge a General Election fully to scare Johnson into delivering on his promises.
- Johnson then prorogues Parliament but not past the 31st of October because that would tip his hand about a No-Deal which could risk alienating too many voters.
- This forces the Remain camp to harden in its rhetoric and actions to stop the dreaded No-Deal Brexit, because they see the opportunity to do so.
- They take it and introduce the Benn-Burt Bill to force Johnson to accept an extension to Article 50. [Key point]
- He offers Parliament a General Election before the Brexit date, after the bill passes the House of Commons and sacks 21 members of his party for voting against him.
- They refuse because they would lose their majority that want to Remain in the EU.
- Then the Tories end the filibuster in the House of Lords paving the way for Johnson to swallow the bill and go to the Queen for Royal Assent.
This is the timeline. Now, this puts Johnson in charge of the situation completely. Remain has played their hand. Their cards are on the table.
Here’s the rub. The following is why Johnson can still raise the pot.
Parliament is a law-advising body. The Government proposes legislation: The Houses discuss and amend it and send it back to the Government, which then presents it to the Sovereign — the Queen — to put into law.
… when Parliament seizes control of the floor, any legislation it forces onto the government still has to be taken by the government to the Queen. If the government refuses, it opens itself up to a vote of no confidence and the government could fall in a general election.
… Parliament doesn’t represent the current polling. The opposition is the one without the mandate and they know it. Otherwise they would have agreed with the government’s bill to call an election before the Article 50 deadline of Halloween to seize power and stop Brexit.
So, Parliament putting forth a bill that the government doesn’t agree with but who still has the confidence of the House of Commons is under no obligation to present the bill to the Queen. Johnson can simply sit on it and dare Corbyn, et al., to remove him from office.
That’s the key.
The question today is,”Does Boris Johnson do this?” I think he does because of the benefits it accrues to the Conservatives and British Elite who are losing the faith of the people.
Brexit has to be delivered, even if it is a terrible version of it. But, Johnson and crew see the opportunity to remake the British political class in their image and they will use Brexit to make that happen.
To achieve Brexit it has to happen without the current Parliament. For the Tories to command a strong showing against Farage and the Brexit Party he has to purge them of their remaining Remain members. This especially includes prominent figures who have openly conspired with Brussels to stop Brexit — Philip Hammond, Dominic Grieve, Ken Clarke.
These are cataclysmic political events. The message is clear, “No one is safe.”
Strategy requires that Johnson win these battles first before tackling Brexit. The best way to defeat your enemy is to bring him out into the open on a battlefield of your choosing.
The Government makes laws in the U.K., not the House of Commons. This is the Government’s turf. Johnson called the Remainers bluff on this bill by offering them the one thing they are supposed to want but are desperate to avoid, an election.
Johnson looks like the magnanimous one, respecting the people’s will while Parliament looks like the tyrannical and disconnected overmasters pathetic in their desperation to retain power and sell out the country to the European Union.
Moreover, Johnson’s ploy here is putting Labour in a bind. Leader Jeremy Corbyn would do the right thing, go for an election, if Brexit is delayed and Johnson honors the Benn/Burt bill. Brexit would be delayed until the end of January but Parliament would no longer be capable of blocking Brexit, which is, ultimately, what Corbyn wants.
It is the rest of his Shadow Cabinet do not want that. Nor do they want Corbyn in power anymore. You can see the strings on the hands of Keir Starmer, Yvette Cooper and the rest as Tony Blair and George Soros tug on them.
So, there is the possibility here of splitting Labour down the middle as well.
For a Tory loyalist like Boris Johnson this is the Trifecta. Secure Brexit, even if it’s just in name only via a tweak to May’s Horrific Treaty(tm), ensure a Tory victory at the next election whenever it happens and split Labour if not kill it outright.
And that is the worry for those that believe in sovereignty and human dignity. Because Johnson could win this fight completely in the next few days and then betray Brexit at the 11th hour.
He simply refuses to offer the bill to the Queen, which is within his Prerogative as he is in charge of treaty negotiations not Parliament, prorogues Parliament with the bill pending. It expires along with all the others outstanding.
The clock restarts when they come back on October 14th. At that point there isn’t time for a General Election so reintroducing the bill would be pointless because Johnson can then run out the clock.
Parliament would then have to take whatever Johnson offers when he comes back from Brussels.
And that’s where this whole drama comes to its conclusion. Will Boris Johnson keep his word to the British people and take them out without a deal which is what he has campaigned on or will he blackmail Parliament and the British people with Mrs. May’s Treaty of Surrender tweaked slightly on the Irish backstop?
If he does the former he’ll be a hero and will change the face of the world.
If he does the latter he’ll be a the Goat that Betrayed Britain.
Choose wisely Boris. Nigel is watching.