It has been just over a month since I added an installment to my Brexitwatch series. It was just after Boris Johnson became Prime Minister and a lot, as one might have expected, has happened in the meantime, including my prediction to expect the unexpected, including the prorogation of Parliament that I will get to.
There is no doubt Boris has been bullish in his approach including promising to tackle other big issues, like the NHS, education and policing. He begun by appointing Leavers only to ministerial posts and then telling the EU he is not prepared to negotiate if the Irish backstop was NOT on the table. Unlike his predecessor his approach has been like that of a poker player as he set out his store of being prepared to leave the EU without a deal and inviting the EU hegemony to call his bluff, noting EU members have as much, if not more, to lose if the UK left the EU with no deal. His meeting with EU counterparts, notably Merkel and Macron, went as well as if not better than expected. Both the French and German leaders did not want to appear as bad guys. Merkel “generously” invited Boris to come up with an alternative to the Irish backstop and Macron while sticking to “this is the best deal the UK can expect” position, did so politely. Also happening are overtures by the likes of US President Trump of trade deals when UK leaves the EU.
Which brings us to a new word in mine and many others I suspect vocabulary: prorogation – “the action of discontinuing a session of a parliament or other legislative assembly without dissolving”. This has caused outrage among the normal suspects as being undemocratic, unconstitutional etc. even though the government claims there is still time to debate the various options. It so happens prorogation is an annual occurrence to take into account the Party conference season. This year it is a few days longer to take into account the Queens Speech and a new legislative program but more significantly this begins soon after MPs return from their summer recess and at a critical time given the UK is meant to leave the EU on October 31st, and this is enshrined in law – Article 50. While I have little doubt that Boris’ motives are political, but as an observer of what has been going on since the EU Referendum I find our antipathetic elected representatives have acted politically and are hypocritical in their indignation. From all sides and in my view they have reneged on their obligation to support the will of the people – i.e. leave the EU and regain sovereignty, and moreover used every trick in the book and out of it to thwart efforts, aided and abetted by an inept government. With few exceptions, politicians on all sides have not acted as I woud have hoped. Given the impasse left at the end of the May government, this seems to be a sensible decision and allows time to negotiate without the histrionics. Threats include votes of no confidence, a General Election and ploys Remainer MPs in Parliament can bring to bear in order to stop a “No Deal” Brexit. On the support Boris side, the following quote resonates:
“Never forget that most MPs voted against the withdrawal agreement three times which was the best way to avoid a no deal Brexit. Never forget that they also voted against every other option on the table (customs union, Norway, 2nd referendum, revocation). Parliament has blatantly failed to provide a lead on this issue. So what are we left with? Simply, the legal default of a no deal exit on 31st October, barring a drastic offer from the EU. To claim that Parliament, with roughly 5 days less time to debate Brexit, has been denied a golden chance to debate Brexit is disingenuous. MPs have been debating Brexit endlessly, and failed to make a breakthrough in 3 years. Many would have used the remaining time to plot ways to stop Brexit, using all manner of legislative contrivances to achieve it. And yes, with the help of the Speaker. Hardly very democratic is it?! Of course, prorogation isn’t just being used to introduce a new parliamentary session. There is a political agenda behind it, and yes, it’s obviously controversial (but legal, according to Lord Sumption). But to pretend that MPs are somehow blameless in this matter stretches credulity. The Remain zealots must get real”.
Listening to the Nigel Farage show on LBC radio tonight, I was reminded there is perhaps an even more important consideration than Boris seeking to bypass Parliament when it comes to the UK’s future after Ocober 31st. The clue was the resignation of Scottish “remainer” Conservative leader, Ruth Davidson, who contrary to expectations did not bash Boris but referred to Boris’ assurance to her that he was committed to getting a deal. Nigel’s worry and mine is that the deal Boris will come up with will be the same as Theresa May’s three times attempted withdrawal agreement with some sweeteners, including a solution to the Irish backstop issue. I have noted before that while Boris and his side kick, the posh dude, all speak well they voted third time round for May’s deal and it unlikely that given the short time that is left that an acceptable in the view of many “leavers” can be struck. Moreover, given the way Boris is handling things, he might confidently expect some “remainers” to vote for TM mark 4 as being a better alternative to leaving the EU on 31st October with no deal, unless there is a General Election, which really would let the cat out among the pigeons, allow the deplorables to give vent to their anger and bring the Brexit Party back into play.
Personally, I am saddened some remainer friends with integrity are up in arms about yesterday’s prorogation announcement and some will be joining some of the protest marches being planned. My inclination, if circumstances were different, is to join a protest the protestor march, if such were to happen, and failing that to use this blog to say it as I see it. I have noticed other friends (tending toward leaver to be sure) urging prayer and encouraging days of prayer. There is little doubt that the issue of Brexit has both divided the country, has acted like a dark cloud and left us in a quandary. We are in the hands of the Almighty and, while I think my leave, deal or no deal position is the correct one, the ruler of the universe knows better and I suspect has other plans, and can be appealed to, to show mercy. I have no doubt though surprises are still to be had.