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Boris’s big gamble

Written By: - Date published: 12:14 pm, September 3rd, 2019 - 57 comments
Categories: boris johnson, conservative party, Europe, uk politics - Tags:

It seems pretty likely that the United Kingdom will soon head to the polls.

Boris Johnson has set out a very clear message, either Parliament backs him or it is off to the polls. 

From the Guardian:

Boris Johnson has issued a final Brexit ultimatum to rebel MPs by pledging to call a snap general election next month if the House of Commons pushes ahead with a bill tabled by a cross-party group of backbenchers seeking to block no deal.

In a carefully choreographed sequence, Johnson held an emergency cabinet meeting, addressed Conservative MPs at a Downing Street reception and then made a live television address outside No 10 to say there were “no circumstances” under which departure from the EU would not happen on 31 October.

Johnson said in his televised address, which was punctuated by chants from protestors at the gates of Downing Street, that he did not want an election. But No 10 briefings openly threatened one on 14 October if rebels did not back down.

Johnson said the backbench bill, signed by the former chancellor Philip Hammond, the ex-justice secretary David Gauke and others, would “chop the legs out” from the UK’s Brexit negotiations.

The bill, which the MPs hope to push through parliament at high speed if they seize control of the Commons timetable on Tuesday, would mandate Johnson to extend departure until 31 January, unless MPs backed a deal or approved no deal.

It appears that Johnson thinks that he can get a better deal out of the EU if the clock is ticking down and he can practice his particular form of brinkmanship.    Proroguing Parliament, even for a short time, intensifies pressure and reduces Parliament’s ability to stop him.  But the two things he wants, removal of a hard boarder around Northern Ireland and cancellation of the penalty the UK has been assessed to pay do not seem resolvable.  Again from the Guardian:

The prime minister is insisting that the EU removes the Irish backstop from the withdrawal agreement but the UK government is yet to offer any alternative plan for avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland after Brexit.

The prime minister has instead claimed that the British government will not pay its £39bn divorce bill unless a new deal is negotiated and ratified.

The EU responded that such move would stymie any hope of talks on a free trade deal in the foreseeable future.

Schallenberg said: “We expect – and I underline this in triplicate – that the United Kingdom will fully meet its financial obligations as a member, whether or not there is a hard Brexit.

“The UK will also have to consider what kind of signal that would be for future contractors outside the EU if it ignores its obligations as soon as things get tough.”

That will work.  Sign up to a treaty with a penalty provision, withdraw, and refuse to pay the penalty. 

I must admit struggling with the whole idea of Brexit.  I appreciate there is a strong vein of left wing thought that thinks it is a good thing.  For me I am with George Monbiot, it appears to me to be a proposal that has disaster captialists rubbing their hands in glee.

The next few days are going to be very interesting as Parliament and the UK executive go head to head …

57 comments on “Boris’s big gamble ”

  1. Andre 1

    Any halfway competent political leader in opposition should easily be able to look like a thoroughly attractive alternative to this government clusterfuck.

    What's Corbyn doing? Just adding to the all-around omnishambles?

  2. JohnP 2

    Corbyn wanted to no confidence Johnson, put a caretaker govt in and then extend Article 50 and call a General Election. If Labour had won they’d renegotiate the deal and have a second referendum, Remain v Labour’s Deal. Lib Dems said no, because they can't stomach Corbyn as PM.

    Now Johnson wants a General Election and Corbyn's saying 'bring it on', but the Lib Dems don't want one and some of Labour don't either 'until Brexit is resolved'.

    This ignores that since the 2017 election, parliamentary arithmetic has been a key factor in nothing actually being sorted out. Only one way to change that. An election.

    • weka 2.1

      Aren't the Conservatives set to win that?

      • JohnP 2.1.1

        A General Election? Polling says so, but polling put May's Tories 20 points up on Corbyn in 2017 – and Johnson might be about to purge his own party of MPs who disagree with him and go into a campaign on the back of nearly a decade of austerity.

  3. Tiger Mountain 3

    Snap elections are generally laden with chances for more instability. An opportunists delight.

    Mr Corbyn is up against it. How does he present a positive “for the many not the few” MkII Campaign, in such a scenario? If he can achieve a Labour Govt. in this chaos, with sections of his own supporters ok with Brexit, then he will join the ranks of all time political miracle makers.

    • JohnP 3.1

      Labour's plan since at least 2017 has been pretty clear, despite them being accused of not having one.

      It's this; ‘We voted to leave, so we should get a good deal. If we don’t get a good deal (that protects workers rights etc) then we won’t vote for it, but will take action to prevent No Deal – preferably a vote of no confidence to force a General Election and then attempt to renegotiate the deal with new ‘red lines’ and then put that deal to a public referendum with the Deal vs Remain being the option.’

      The Lib Dems have plumped for: ‘We must have a second vote, even if No Deal is an option on the ballot’ which has increasingly become hard remain and ignore what doing that would mean electorally – a Brexiteer backlash of huge proportions.

      Tories under Johnson: 'No Deal is the deal'

      Corbyn's aim is to give Brexit voters a deal they can vote for, and an option for Remainers to vote for – rather than the Tories ignoring the 48% who voted Remain or the Lib Dems ignoring the 52% who voted leave (yes, I know those numbers will hve shifted).

      By Labour taking a nuanced position the Liberal Democrats and their outriders have labelled them pro-Brexit because their best outcome involves presenting a deal to the public in a referendum, which ignores that the Liberal Democrats are willing to end up with No Deal by accident in their desired referendum. The Conservatives and Brexiteers label them Remainers who are trying to prevent Brexit by offering a second referendum, but also that they’re trying to make No Deal happen by voting down Theresa May’s deal.

      In an election, hopefully things become a little clearer, as they did in 2017.

      • Andre 3.1.1

        That Labour position, paraphrased: We'll faff around ineffectually a bit more just like May did. Then we'll go to a referendum. Y'know, coz we don't have any confidence we'll get anything better than May did.

        • JohnP 3.1.1.1

          Except, of course, that Corbyn isn't held hostage by the DUP or the ERG like May was over negotiations and his meetings with Michel Barnier indicated there could be progress in a Brexit deal with Labour's approach which would focus on workers rights etc

          The backstop, the financial settlement – all the things Johnson is trying to renegotiate without presenting any solutions, that's all down to the Tory Party's internal problems. The prorogue of Parliament, all of that, is aimed at making Europe believe he wants No Deal and making changes to the things they have repeatedly said they will not change. Madness.

          Yet at the same time, the ERG and Cummings etc – they want No Deal. They really want it.

        • Gabby 3.1.1.2

          Well they probably wouldn't get anything better dredre.

  4. weka 4

    One good thing I can see from Brexit is that it might slow the British economy in ways that drop GHG emissions meaningfully. I don't expect that to be pretty though. If Brexit doesn't happen and the UK continues with green BAU, the planet burns.

    As for Boris, I don't get the agenda here. Is he after a fiefdom with a greatly increased underclass and power consolidated in a contracted ruling class?

    • greywarshark 4.1

      Boorish hasn't decided yet. Being Leader and having a goal of whatever is enough to keep him feeling vital and manly, and shouting follow me or else you can join all the other losing w…rs. It is about strutting and shouting and winning all the toys and filling all the possible niches where people might retire for thought.

    • SHG 4.2

      The recycling centres and rubbish-combustion power plants are on the EU side of the channel, and after Brexit those doors will be closed. Within a few months Britain will be drowning in rubbish.

      • weka 4.2.1

        Good incentive to stop producing so much and to shift to closed loop cycles.

      • Peter Christchurh nz 4.2.2

        Yes, as always, the world is just about to end.

        No. Reality is GB will, after a year of turmoil and adjustment, flourish, as it will have the entire.world to trade with rather than being tied to the sop of the EU.

        Why on earth are so many on this site always preaching that the end is near? Adaptability is the strength humans have.

  5. Stuart Munro. 5

    Well I hope Corbyn gets in – Milton Jones needs to sue Boris for stealing his trademark disheveled hair, and he'll get no justice under the Tories.

  6. bwaghorn 6

    Corbyn should just grow a pair and make it all about Brexit if it comes to an election

    A Vote for labour is a vote to cancel Brexit.

  7. ianmac 7

    Gordon has a point:

    In the face of Boris Johnson’s latest provocations, the best response for Remainers and Tory rebels alike would be… to do nothing at all. Everyone needs to step back and let Johnson have his ‘no deal’ Brexit, since that’s the only way of making sure that the current Tory leadership gets to wear the consequent turmoil.

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL1909/S00001/gordon-campbell-on-ensuring-boris-gets-blamed-for-brexit.htm

  8. Wayne 9

    Seems to me an election is the only way forward. The Conservatives have been unable to pass any bill that has a deal. Too many Conservatives and virtually all of Labour voted against the deal that May did. The current parliament won't vote for any sort of deal. There is no majority for anything, except delay.

    Boris looks like a guy who is prepared break the deadlock by going to the people. Hopefully a new parliament would produce a government (left or right) with a practical working majority. Boris will certainly make the election all about Brexit. Corbyn will think he can repeat 2017 and do better than the polls currently indicate. Maybe he will, though I don't think so.

    Boris just seems to be a fundamentally better campaigner than Corbyn. Labour and Corbyn have been all over the show with Brexit. At the moment it seems to be a new referendum. So a general election campaign to have a referendum. Ridiculous. At least people know what Boris stands for, and that is an exit from the EU. So will the public back Boris and end the deadlock? We will probably know within 6 to 7 weeks!

    • Anne 9.1

      Labour and Corbyn have been all over the show with Brexit. At the moment it seems to be a new referendum.

      On the 18th November 2018 this is what Corbyn had to say:

      https://www.theguardian.com/politics/video/2018/nov/18/an-option-for-the-future-corbyn-on-second-brexit-referendum-video

      It seemed like an eminently sensible approach and not too different to what he is saying today.

      I think JohnP knows what he's talking about. Corbyn has consistently been misrepresented by the British MSM since the moment he was elected to the Labour leadership. I'm reminded of the Cunliffe hysteria in NZ in 2014 – a pack of baying MSM wolves mindlessly baying away at a fictitious moon.

      Thanks for the heads up JohnP.

      Edit: and I note Corbyn was accused by his enemies in Labour of… being a closet brexiteer at the time of the first referendum and that has proven to be false.

      • JohnP 9.1.1

        Kia ora for that Anne.

        I wouldn't say that Corbyn has been consistently misrepresented by the media (not all of the time), but the reporting on Labour 'not having a plan' stems from the fact that his plan involved recognising that parliamentary arithmetic was against him and that any plan needed to involve both Remain and Leave voters.

        Compare that to;

        Theresa May's 'this is the deal, vote for the deal, even though it's bad'

        Liberal Democrats 'we want a referendum' / 'Bollocks To Brexit'

        Brexiteers and Farage 'Any Deal is a bad deal'

        Johnson ‘If we don’t try and do no Deal the EU won’t shift on the things they have repeatedly said they will not renegotiate’

        And opposition parties kept insisting their single sentences were the simple solution to a hideously complex problem – and that Corbyn didn't have a position on Brexit because the position wasn't a campaign slogan, it was a series of decisions that would have to be made in the process of exiting the European Union that were decided on by Labour Conference in 2017 and 2018. He's literally doing what the membership instructed him to.

        The bigger problem is that the Lib Dems and Tories and Brexit Party all attacked Corbyn for having no policy, when it's pretty clear that May failed, the Liberal Democrats have demonstrated they're more willing to let No Brexit happen than to bring down the Government from Opposition, and the Brexiteers don't care about consequences – they want a Brexit and damn everything.

        Corbyn's plan is the one left standing for Remain. Brexiteers want to antagonise and infuriate Remain and push ahead, Lib Dems want to risk having No Deal on a second referendum ballot (which could go horribly wrong).

        Labour's policy is to renegotiate a deal from Government and then give every single voter a say on the outcome – Remain vs Labour's Deal. That way if the Brexiters want Brexit, they can vote for it – but not in a way which utterly wrecks the country. Equally Remainers and those who have changed their mind since 2016 will have the chance to vote for Remain.

        The biggest issue with criticising Corbyn's policy since 2017 is that if he hadn't made up a 20 point gap in the 2017 election, May would have had a big majority and her Brexit deal would have sailed through Parliament. Even if she hadn't called the election, she could have passed the deal.

        The reason Brexit hasn't happened is the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn swiped the Govts majority and then voted against the terrible deal it negotiated consistently, while always maintaining it would prefer to seek a General Election to fix the problem of post-2017 parliamentary arithmetic which meant there has not been a majority for ANY Brexit outcome in over 2 years.

      • The Al1en 9.1.2

        He wasn’t just a closet Brexiteer, he was decidedly anti EU. He even voted against Britain joining in the first place.

        • Anne 9.1.2.1

          He may well have done so Al1en but at some point he changed his mind. He voted to remain. Watch my link @ 9.1.

          And btw, he has made no bones about the fact some things need to change.

          • The Al1en 9.1.2.1.1

            He's a social Chameleon, he'll change to suit the people around him.

            It's just one of the reasons voters won't vote for him, even the missing 20% of labour voters.

            • JohnP 9.1.2.1.1.1

              Yes, he's both a social chameleon who cannot be trusted and a stuck in the same ideas he's had for thirty years who cannot be trusted.

              • The Al1en

                No, he'll say, eventually, what he thinks people want to hear, but as usual with Corbyn, you can just piss it off.

                If labour voters don't rate him, and at 20 odd percent, there's loads of traditional voters who don't, then all you're left with is wishful thinking over fact. There's absolutely no reason to vote for his party, and no hope in hell he'll convince a majority to do so.

                As a former labour voter, I'd vote lib dem this time. Not only because it's tactical in my old constituency to get the tories 1 seat down, but equally because Corbyn's a total fail and untrustworthy for top office.

                • JohnP

                  Good luck with that, the Liberal Democrats are doing what they do best and are organising to not stand candidates against Remain Tories which could well deliver a Tory majority and a No Deal Brexit.

                  Swinson helps Remain Tories win seats.

                  Tories win majority because of this.

                  Boris does No Deal Brexit anyway.

                  Five year Tory Government with the Remain Tories post-Brexit turning back into the Tory MPs they are.

                  Lovely stuff from them: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/general-election-lib-dems-draw-up-target-list-for-local-pacts-with-remain-tories-d7bx9ptjn

                  • The Al1en

                    The lib dems are the only party capable of beating the conservatives in Richmond park, so if I could vote there, which sadly I can't, it wouldn't be wasted, and with 1 tory seat less, I'd have done my part.

                    Shame the same can't be said of the failure 'leading' the labour party. No point blaming others for the crap job Corbyn has done in guiding the opposition to defeat. That’s the home ground of the blinkered.

                    The worst, most divided tory party in memory and he still can't lead his way out of a paper bag. #useless.

        • Stuart Munro. 9.1.2.2

          I expect that much of Corbyn's refusal to take a side early on was that he was genuinely loathe to overturn a referendum. We saw the same thing with the Blairite Labour/Tories he tolerated until he could no more.

          • The Al1en 9.1.2.2.1

            More likely waiting to see if it all fell into his lap without having to make the hard decisions, but your version of history could also be true.

    • cleangreen 9.2

      Interesting times eh Wayne?

      I think that Boris is playing the game that will force an election for sure and done the numbers that show Brits want change as we did when we wee hoodwinking into voting for John Key as the way forward so maybe Brits are in the same boat now as they saw how Greece was bullying into submission for not following the 'EU rules' and got their country mostly now sold out after deciding to staying inside the EU.

      My Son just came back from a holiday in Greece and says it is now a torn nation half bitter half happy.

      Will UK want that or a better outcome?.

  9. Macro 10

    You have to wonder at the intelligence of English politicians and the hard right Brexiteers who insist on this stupid affair. They take no cognisance of the situation in Ireland and the fragile peace so hard won with the Good Friday agreement. All that effort will go up in smoke. Even now there has been a bombing close to the Border. The majority of voters in Northern Ireland voted to remain – why because they foresaw the huge pot mess that was involved in the UK leaving the EU. Those north of the border in Scotland also can't believe that the are being forced to leave the EU by the arrogant English – who can only think of themselves.

    If Brexit goes ahead the United Kingdom will soon become the Disunited Kingdom. Even now the Northern Irish are looking across the Border to Dublin, and the Scots are drawing up a second referendum to give England the boot.

    As the Irish Border so telling says:

    "I'm not a fan of Brexit – But I do admire its ability to divide a country"

  10. SPC 11

    An election without an arrangement between LD and Labour would be a disaster for both.

    They would be better advised to

    1. overturn BJ's no deal Brexit deadline

    2. block a no deal Brexit.

    3. oppose an early election.

    4. form a new government with rebel Tories, SNP etc to realise a deal with the EU. Someone not head of any party as caretaker PM (such as one of the former Labour MP's in the breakaway or a rebel Tory).

    5. send that deal to the people in a referendum (an important issue is that the WTO is losing judicial oversight because Trump is blocking the appointment of new judges to undermine its ability to constrain his bullying of other nations – thus staying in the single market is becoming more important).

    6. only hold a new election afterward.

  11. Seems to me like a centrist, united Germany against the Brits…truly what has changed since 1914?

    The Cranberries – Zombie (Official Music Video) – YouTube

    • But the center of Europe isnt Germany… its Russia… hence the reason for hedging in Russia against the west… its always been that way, meanwhile thousands suffer , and die.

      This is western capitalism , not some glorious British Empire pursuit, plain and simple.

      And thats what this is all about, nothing more, nothing less.

      • cleangreen 12.1.1

        Bloody well said WK, you have hit the nail on the head there.

        My Son just returned to Germany after 'a week in Ireland and another week in Greece' both a free society by comparison to Germany, and he is feeling 'down' after being free in a less 'controlled centrist political country as Germany is.

  12. Michael 13

    Corbyn seems to be Boris' best ally.

  13. JohnP 14

    Well, Johnson has become the first PM to lose his first Parliamentary vote since 1895.

    He wants a General Election, but Corbyn has refused until the anti-No Deal legislation has been passed.

    20+ Tory MPs voted against Johnson and now he's got to remove the whip, reducing his party size to 289.

    Oh, that's after his majority of 1 was turned to a -1 today by one of his MPs literally crossing the floor while he was speaking to join the Lib Dems.

  14. joe90 15

    BoJo had a bad day.

    Johnson was the first prime minister to lose his first Commons vote since 1894. His attempt, in alliance with his advisor Dominic Cummings, to bully parliamentarians into submission, had fallen apart.

    https://www.politics.co.uk/blogs/2019/09/03/historic-rebel-victory-parliament-moves-to-stop-no-deal

    • Anne 15.1

      Excellent link. Sums up the chaotic mess in a nutshell.

      Mr. Rees Mogg on behalf of the Johnston government said:

      We should recognise that the people are our masters and show us to be their lieges and servants, not to place ourselves in the position of their overlords. As we come to vote today I hope all members will contemplate the current constitutional confusion and consider the chaos this concatenation of circumstances could create.

      What a load of piffle. What was he even talking about?

      About on a par with this:

      All credit to the Tories who put sanity and principles first. They are the ones who will be remembered when the film hits the theatres.

  15. joe90 16

    Johnson's been sacked more than once for lying.

    Boris Johnson secretly agreed to suspend parliament in mid-August, explosive court documents reveal – nearly two weeks before denying the plan existed.

    An email was sent to the prime minister and Dominic Cummings, his chief aide, entitled “Ending The Session”, which says “we should prorogue” from 9 September.

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/boris-johnson-prorogue-parliament-brexit-dominic-cummings-email-court-scotland-a9089911.html

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