JWG via DTN 15 January 2023 JT and Rae have been reading the tar baby saga and are trying hard…
Boris, Brexit & Britain July-November 2019
Brexit: What is the Irish border backstop?
By John Campbell BBC News NI Economics & Business Editor
The Guardian Brexit
BBC: Brexit: All you need to know about the UK leaving the EU
Parliament Speaker Is Brexit’s Surprise Star and Villain
Brexit, EU & UK – June 2019
Sir Lindsay Hoyle promises calm after being elected Speaker
Successor to John Bercow – and 158th occupant of the job
(The Guardian) Hoyle will take up the role on Tuesday for a single day before parliament dissolves for a general election on 12 December. The Speaker traditionally severs all ties with their political party and stands in their seat unopposed.
He is expected to face a demand on Tuesday morning for an urgent question about the government’s failure to publish a report by the intelligence committee on alleged Russian interference in the UK.
His reaction would be seen as a litmus test by his critics, one MP said. “How he reacts will be important. There are concerns that Lindsay won’t have the knowledge or the clout to take on the government. Let’s see how he handles this,” the MP said.
Trump: Farage and Johnson should ‘come together’ for general election
PM has dismissed idea he should work with Brexit party
Farage says he will not stand as MP in general election
(The Guardian) Donald Trump has waded into British politics again, addressing the key question facing pro-leave right-wingers in the forthcoming general election.
Asked which British politician he would side with if he had to choose, Trump said: “I like them both … So I think Boris will get it right. They’re both friends of mine. What I’d like to see is for Nigel and Boris to come together. I think that’s a possibility.”
Farage said on Sunday he would not run for a seat in the general election. Johnson has already rejected the suggestion from both Trump and Farage that he should work with the Brexit party.
Instead, Johnson has talked up the prospect of a post-Brexit trade deal with the US as one of the biggest prizes of leaving the European Union.
Speaking to Farage on the British politician’s LBC radio show earlier this week, Trump said Johnson’s proposed Brexit deal would prevent the UK and US from striking a trade deal of their own and described the situation as “completely ridiculous”. Downing Street rejected that claim.
On Sunday, Trump indicated that if the UK made a clean break with Europe, as opposed to remaining in the customs union in any form, the US would be in a better position to strike a trade deal.
‘He’s got a battle on his hands’: could Uxbridge unseat Boris Johnson?
Labour’s candidate Ali Milani, 25, hopes student vote and Heathrow ‘betrayal’ could deliver shock result
Brexit: A Rationale, not a Defence
As the United Kingdom braces for an election that will presumably be a de facto referendum on Brexit, former Canadian ambassador to the U.K. Jeremy Kinsman writes that, whatever odds London’s famous bookmakers are offering, hold your money on the outcome.
(Policy Magazine) Johnson, who has opened up a surprising lead in the polls, wants the election to win an outright parliamentary majority, enabling him to “Get Brexit Done” his way. But the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act of 2011 stipulates a two-thirds majority to call a snap election. Distrusted in Parliament as a flip-flopping exhibitionist, Johnson’s blithe self-confidence merits discounting. He has over-played every hand he has held since party faithful chose him for PM based on his apparent winnability.
But he won support to proceed December 12 from the third-party Liberal Democrats and the Scottish Nationalists both of which support “remain” and see themselves trending as refuges for voters repelled by both Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn’s truculent “old Labour” socialism and by the Conservatives’ right-wing nationalism. Having withheld agreement until a no-deal Brexit bill was off the table, Corbyn then joined in. Under-35s, looking to their future, overwhelmingly support “remain” parties. Over-55s, perhaps out of nostalgia, overwhelmingly support the Tories and “leave.” Hold your bets on the outcome.
Is the Brexit saga part of a global populist trend? Or is it a political phenomenon specific to grievances felt in the British Isles? Brexit supporters do share some grievances felt by anti-establishment voters elsewhere, over immigration, and feeling left behind economically, especially in comparison to London elites.
But the primary driver is specifically British, or more accurately, English, individualism, enveloped in an over-arching cloak of “identity” — the gut feeling the English just aren’t European by history or social inclination.
Last orders: John Bercow’s final day as Speaker
After just over a decade as Speaker and an estimated 14,000 throaty cries of “Order!”, it was perhaps typical of John Bercow that his final day in the Commons featured not only lengthy tributes but a brutal row with an MP conducted with his trademark icy passive-aggression.
Bercow, possibly the most high-profile modern Speaker, and certainly the most interventionist and divisive, had faced what was, by recent standards, a relatively low-key day in the chamber. … The paradox of this ferocious set-to was that it came almost immediately after MPs had spent slightly under three hours lavishing praise on Bercow.
Commons-watchers say Bercow has reshaped the role of his office, for example with the huge increase in urgent questions to ministers. “I think he’s changed the nature of the role,” said Ruth Fox, director of the parliamentary research group the Hansard Society. Bercow’s greatest impact was perhaps “in making parliament a more outward-facing institution”, Fox said, such as his work with the education centre and youth parliament.
Parliament breaks Brexit deadlock with vote for 12 December election
Boris Johnson wins vote to secure snap poll at fourth time of asking
- The UK was gearing up for a 12 December general election after Boris Johnson’s plan to go to the country received the backing of the Commons. MPs voted through the prime minister’s proposal for a pre-Christmas ballot and rejected an opposition move to hold it three days earlier.
- Proposed amendments that would have enfranchised 16 and 17-year-olds, as well as EU nationals, were not taken forward. No 10 had said it would pull the bill altogether if the amendments were passed.
- The Tories restored the whip to 10 of the 21 MPs from whom it was withdrawn last month. The party stressed that the fact the other had not had the whip restored did not mean they would not.
- The UK might not get a further delay to Brexit if it cannot be sorted by 31 January 2020, Donald Tusk warned. The outgoing president of the European council again urged the UK not to waste the time it had been given
Boris Johnson to ask MPs to back election on 12 December
PM to table motion for early poll as he abandons ‘do or die’ pledge to leave EU by 31 October
The prime minister has written to Jeremy Corbyn saying he will give parliament one last opportunity to scrutinise his withdrawal agreement bill and “get Brexit done” by 6 November.
But he will also table a motion under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act next Monday asking for an early general election. MPs would then vote on the motion the same day.
In his letter, Johnson said: “An election on 12 December will allow a new parliament and government to be in place by Christmas. If I win a majority in this election, we will then ratify the great new deal that I have negotiated, get Brexit done in January and the country will move on.”
Brexit and the Failure of Journalism
Poor coverage of Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union risks creating a democratic deficit and storing up resentment for the future.
By Helen Lewis
(The Atlantic) Three words encapsulate the British media’s collective failure to report on the country’s withdrawal from the European Union: Get Brexit done.
Here’s the problem: The slogan is meaningless. As my colleague Tom McTague has pointed out, Brexit is for ever. If and when a deal setting out the terms of Britain’s departure from the EU is passed by Parliament, the argument simply moves on to their future relationship. That will involve interminable discussions. After all, which is trickier—agreeing to divorce, or splitting up shared assets and arranging custody of the children? Additionally, whenever post-Brexit Britain makes trade deals on its own, it will face pressure to change its laws and regulations to accommodate the demands of its trading partners. That might include lowering product standards, such as accepting the U.S.’s infamous chlorinated chicken, or offering preferential treatment on visas to countries such as India.
Brexit Briefing from The Times: From the referendum onwards Brexit has been a story of dilemmas and questions, none of which have easy answers.
Now we have reached the point where everyone is facing a dilemma at the same time.
Boris Johnson has to gamble whether to breach his “do or die” pledge and go for early election defending a Brexit deal that will be assailed from all sides.
Jeremy Corbyn has to decide whether to block that election as many of his MPs want, or roll the dice in the hope of pulling off an improbable victory. The EU meanwhile has been well and truly dragged into UK domestic politics as it grapples with how long an extension to offer the government.
Supporters of a second referendum also have a dilemma. They have to decide whether to swallow their pride and back a customs union in the Commons in the hope that it sabotages the whole bill.
Labour “Brexiteers” meanwhile have to decide when and if to break with their party and deliver a much harder deal than the one they previously voted against. It is these dilemmas we look at in this week’s email.
As one politician noted this week: “All of us have one chess piece left on the board and are trying to work out how to play it. Boris Johnson might be able to find an extra pawn from somewhere but that’s it.”
Bloomberg Politics: Far from the arcane drama at Westminster, warning signs are flashing that Boris Johnson’s path to leaving the European Union carries peril for the integrity of the U.K. itself.
The prime minister won a fleeting victory in Parliament last night when MPs indicated their support for his renegotiated Brexit deal, only to balk at fast-tracking it into law.
But Northern Ireland’s unionists are outraged at the deal’s provisions for the province to be treated under a different set of customs rules from the rest of the U.K. The pro-Brexit Democratic Unionist Party unanimously opposed the accord yesterday. They’re in rare agreement with the Irish nationalists of Sinn Fein: Both see it as weakening the union and edging Irish reunification closer to reality. Prominent loyalist Jamie Bryson forecast “an organic explosion of anger” if Johnson’s deal is passed.
In Scotland, where a majority voted in 2016 to remain in the EU, the nationalist government is angry at not being awarded the same tailor-made customs arrangement as Northern Ireland. It is redoubling calls for a second referendum on independence.
MPs reject Boris Johnson’s attempt to fast-track Brexit deal
PM fails to restrict scrutiny of bill to just three days in effort to meet 31 October deadline
(The Guardian) Boris Johnson’s plan to fast-track his Brexit deal through parliament in time for next week’s 31 October deadline was blocked by MPs on Tuesday night, even after he threatened to pull it and press for a general election.
The prime minister said he would speak to EU leaders and urge them not to agree to a prolonged Brexit extension … But the European council president, Donald Tusk, suggested almost immediately that he would recommend the EU27 accede to the UK’s request for a three-month delay. That request was set out in the letter reluctantly penned by the prime minister at the weekend in compliance with the backbench-led Benn act – despite his previous insistence that he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than countenance a delay.
British lawmakers are voting on a crucial piece of Brexit legislation. But have they actually read it?
It’s an important document, designed to turn pledges in the agreement with E.U. leaders into workable British law. But it’s also long, with 115 pages of the legislation, as well as 125 additional pages of notes. Combined, the two documents have a length of close to 100,000 words.
The British government’s assessment of its Brexit bill mentions “cost” three times more than “benefit”
(Quartz) A 69-page impact assessment (pdf) was published alongside the bill last night. It concludes that the legislation will cost the country £167 million ($216 million) over 10 years. This is “not an assessment of the decision to leave the European Union,” it notes.
In its assessment of the assessment (pdf), as it were, the Regulatory Policy Committee (RPC), an official body charged with gauging the impact of regulation on the economy, notes with great understatement that the government’s analysis of the Brexit bill’s impact “could benefit from improved evidence, to the level that the RPC would normally expect to see.” The government’s assessment describes various costs and benefits as “non-monetised” 105 times.
In particular, new measures that impose customs checks on trade between Northern Ireland and Great Britain were not assessed quantitatively by the government, citing a lack of data on intra-UK trade. (Northern Ireland’s department of economy has published extensive analyses on this.) A report by the UK’s tax authority last year noted that introducing customs checks for UK-EU trade would cost £7.5 billion per year in extra administrative costs. This burden—between £15 and £56 per declaration—would also be faced by some traders shipping goods between Northern Ireland and Great Britain under the current Brexit agreement.
U.K. Speaker Bercow deals blow to PM Johnson’s Brexit plan, disallows second vote
(Reuters via CBC) U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson faces a potentially perilous ratification of his Brexit divorce deal in Parliament after the Speaker refused to allow a vote on it Monday.
With just 10 days left until the United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union on Oct. 31, the divorce is again in disarray as U.K. politicians argue over whether to leave with a deal, exit without a deal or hold another referendum.
House of Commons Speaker John Bercow said a vote should not be allowed on Monday as the same issue had been discussed on Saturday when opponents turned Johnson’s big Brexit day into a humiliation.
It’s a Crucial Week for Brexit (Yes, Again)
(New York) Pro-Brexit politicians argue that the public is tired of arguing about this and that it’s time to carry out the orders a narrow majority voted for in 2016. Anti-Brexit politicians argue that voters are entitled to another referendum, as now they know what Brexit will actually entail. Unfortunately, there is no possible course of action here that won’t upset a substantial segment of the voting public. Small wonder, then, that the U.K.’s political institutions have proved so reluctant to act. Even with a deadline looming and a deal on the table, this week might not change that.
It’s 11 days until the U.K. is due to shed its European Union membership and, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson so often says, “take back control.”
Problem is, right now there’s no control. Headed into yet another “crunch” week for Brexit where anything could happen, the U.K. is careering towards a true crisis.
A special sitting of parliament yesterday resulted in another defeat for Johnson. Lawmakers, stung by his repeated efforts to bypass them, slapped him with an amendment that required him to ask the EU to defer Brexit until Jan. 31. Johnson grudgingly sent that letter — unsigned — late in the evening. He sent another — this one he signed — arguing a further delay would be a mistake.
There are two things to watch: whether the EU grants an extension and the gyrations in the U.K. Parliament. Debate on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (which implements Brexit) could begin as soon as Tuesday, after the prime minister makes another attempt tomorrow to get Parliament to sign off on the principle of his deal.
It’s a massive gamble for a leader lacking a parliamentary majority. The whole thing will be decided by a handful of votes. Johnson will need all of his powers of persuasion and famous oratory wit. The ticking clock, and the desire among lawmakers to avoid a chaotic no-deal exit, might help him.
In the incredible three-year soap opera of Brexit, the finale will be a cliff-hanger. – Rosalind Mathieson
Sticking point | The biggest obstacle to getting the deal through parliament is the historically fraught border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, set to become the only land crossing between the EU and the U.K. after Brexit. The plan agreed by EU negotiators would see a new type of border emerge not on land, but in the Irish Sea. Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, which wants to remain part of the U.K., says it can’t support the plan.
Brexit march: Brexit: ‘One million’ protesters demand second referendum as Boris Johnson loses key vote
Crowd cheers as MPs withhold support from prime minister’s Brexit deal
UK MPs force Boris Johnson to seek a Brexit extension
(Politico) Boris Johnson pledged to push on with Brexit and said a delay would be bad for the country.
The British prime minister achieved what many said was impossible and secured a new Brexit deal with the EU, and was ready to put that deal to MPs in the House of Commons for a so-called “meaningful vote.”
It even looked as though he might just win that vote, and could then get on with passing the legislation required to put the deal into law with a solid mandate from parliament. But he was thwarted once again.
In the first Saturday sitting of the Commons for 37 years, MPs backed an amendment that compels the government to request a Brexit delay from the EU until all the legislation required to leave has been ratified.
The Spectator analysis: The real deal
Boris Johnson has today managed to achieve the impossible: he forced the European Union to re-open the withdrawal agreement, give way on the controversial backstop for Northern Ireland, and sign a new Brexit deal. Can he achieve more before the week is out, and get the House of Commons to back leaving with a deal?
This morning, the Prime Minister and Jean-Claude Juncker announced that they had succeeded in getting an agreement between the UK and EU. There is a revised withdrawal agreement and political declaration, and a unilateral declaration on the new ‘consent mechanism’ for Ireland and Northern Ireland. The pair congratulated one another on reaching this point, and then Juncker said something very helpful indeed: he told reporters that he didn’t think it was necessary to have a further extension to Article 50. This was widely reported in London as the European Commission President ‘ruling out’ a delay, which is exactly what No. 10 wanted, but not precisely possible. It’s not in Juncker’s gift to decide whether or not an extension will be granted: that’ the job of the European Council. This evening, Donald Tusk contradicted Juncker, saying: ‘If there is a request for an extension, I will contact member states to see how to react.’
All the same, Downing Street is hoping that Juncker’s comments will be enough to persuade MPs –– particularly those in the Labour party –– that Saturday’s vote is a straightforward choice between deal and no deal, rather than the Commons merely voting down the latest offer and the EU granting another extension in which further details can be nailed down. Johnson needs the support of as many Labour, independent and ex-Tory MPs as possible, as the DUP have said they will not support the deal. It’s a pretty tricky sleight of hand, and as I say here, it says a number of rather amusing things about how Johnson’s aides view the ability of the average MP to pay attention to detail.
Saturday’s sitting is going to be dramatic and it’s all hands on deck in all parties to try to get MPs into line. The Commons will sit from 9.30am, and there is no cut-off for debate as a result of a vote today which also means MPs can amend the government’s motion. Those amendments can be tabled from tonight. There’s a debate over whether there will be a move towards a second referendum: campaigners are currently concerned that they don’t have enough support among the 21 ex-Tory MPs to make this happen. In fact, no one knows how the Commons session is going to go, though the safest prediction to make at this stage is that any result is going to be tight.
DUP deals Brexit hammer blow to Boris Johnson ahead of crucial EU summit
(Politico Eu) ‘As things stand, we could not support what is being suggested,’ Northern Ireland party says.
He is due to arrive Thursday afternoon at the European Council summit in Brussels, where he hopes to get an agreement on a Brexit deal signed off by fellow EU leaders.
Brexit: Talks continuing amid claims deal is close
(BBC) Downing Street is playing down reports of an imminent Brexit deal with the EU, saying talks are still ongoing.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is under pressure to get a fresh agreement by Thursday’s EU summit, but his spokesman said there was “more work still to do”.
EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier had said the two sides must agree the details by the end of Tuesday.
But the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg said it was not clear whether a text could be signed off by then.
She said Mr Barnier was due to brief EU ambassadors at 1300 BST on Wednesday, after a possible European Commissioners meeting, meaning a new deal could get the “green light” from Brussels in the afternoon.
The Guardian is reporting that a draft treaty could be published on Wednesday morning, claiming the UK has made further concessions over the issue of customs and the Irish border.
The two-day EU summit is crucial because, under legislation passed last month – the Benn Act – the PM must get a new deal approved by MPs by Saturday if he is to avoid asking for a delay.
The UK is due to leave the EU at 23:00 GMT on 31 October and Boris Johnson says that deadline must be honoured.
EU dismisses weekend talks leaving Johnson’s Brexit plan hanging by a thread
Sources say PM’s insistence on Ireland customs border means there is no basis for discussions
(The Guardian) Boris Johnson’s Brexit plans look to be falling apart as the European commission said there are no grounds to accept a request from the UK for intensive weekend negotiations two weeks before an EU summit.
EU sources said there was no basis for such discussions, given the British prime minister’s insistence on there being a customs border on the island of Ireland.
Johnson’s chief negotiator, David Frost, along with a team of a dozen British officials, failed to convince their EU counterparts in Brussels on Friday that he had a mandate from Downing Street to compromise on what the EU sees as major flaws in the UK government’s proposals.
Frost had been seeking to rescue the British prime minister’s proposed deal after it was strongly criticised. The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, had told diplomats on Thursday evening that the British needed to “fundamentally amend their position”.
The UK has proposed that Northern Ireland leave the EU’s customs territory with the rest of the UK on 31 October, but remain in the single market for goods.
The Northern Irish assembly, however, would retain a veto on the arrangements at the end of the standstill transition period in December 2020 and then every four years.
Speaking in Denmark, the Irish prime minister, Leo Varadkar, said the plan did not have the support of the people of Northern Ireland.
“What’s been put on the table by Mr Johnson is not supported by business or civil society in Northern Ireland; it’s only supported by one political party, so there’s a long way to go.”
Boris Johnson is more like Bill Clinton than Donald Trump
(The Spectator) As with Bill Clinton, there are three reasons for Boris’ ability to shake off scandals and allegations which would quickly fell other politicians.
Firstly, there is his native wit and charm. Although this is diminishing in Boris’ case, it is still a powerful weapon. People find it much harder to think ill of people who make them smile, who exude a sense of wellbeing.
Secondly, like Clinton, Boris has built up an expectation of his behaviour which serves to protect him now he is in the top job. We know he has affairs, we know we can’t trust everything he says, but it is built into his share price. We have given up caring.
But thirdly is perhaps the biggest secret of all behind Boris’ ability to survive scandals – and alleged scandals. There are simply too many of them for his enemies to focus properly on any one of them.
Boris Johnson’s sister warns PM’s ‘reprehensible behaviour’ may be due to bets on pound plummeting in no-deal crash for UK
Rachel Johnson, has spoken out, warning she believes the PM’s bizarrely aggressive behaviour may be due to pressure “people who have invested billions in shorting the pound or shorting the country in the expectation of a no-deal Brexit.”
This week it has been revealed in the Byline Times that the Cabinet Office has been asked to investigate if Boris Johnson has breached the ministerial code by not declaring hedge fund donors, some of whom also funded the Leave campaign that Boris Johnson jumped onto in 2016. Hedge funds and financiers who have poured millions into Tory coffers stand to make a mint by speculating on the economic pitfalls of a no-deal Brexit.
Boris Johnson dares opposition to trigger election
Prime minister asks Jeremy Corbyn: ‘Does he in his heart even want to be prime minister any more?’
The shoe has dropped!
Supreme Court: Suspending Parliament was unlawful, judges rule
(BBC) Supreme Court president Lady Hale said “the effect on the fundamentals of democracy was extreme.”
The PM said he “profoundly disagreed” with the ruling but would “respect” it.
Brexit: What happens now?
MPs to return immediately in wake of supreme court ruling
Speaker says Commons will reconvene on Wednesday amid calls for Boris Johnson to resign
In a statement on College Green in Westminster, Bercow said the Commons would sit from 11.30am on Wednesday following the judgment that the suspension of parliament was unlawful.
He said there would be no prime minister’s questions on that day but there would be scope for urgent questions, ministerial statements and emergency debate applications that could hold Johnson to account.
A raft of MPs have now called for the prime minister to resign and some say they will attempt to force him out if he does not go of his accord.
Could a Queen’s Speech still go ahead?
During a speech in New York, the PM said he “refused to be deterred” from getting on with “an exciting and dynamic domestic agenda”, and to do that he would need a Queen’s Speech.
What UK Supreme Court ruling means for Brexit
The judgment is a severe political blow to Boris Johnson but it doesn’t alter Brexit timeline.
UK supreme court ruling reinforces Ireland’s wait and see approach
(Irish Times) The decision of the UK Supreme Court, quashing British prime minister Boris Johnson’s suspension of parliament, is likely to reinforce the Irish Government’s belief that it should wait and see what happens at Westminster before considering any proposals from Johnson about replacements for the backstop.
Irish Ministers and officials have been saying for weeks that they must see how the Brexit battles at Westminster play out before the next steps for Ireland become clear.
This was one of the reasons why they remained so guarded about Downing St’s proposals in recent weeks – not alone were they insufficient in themselves, but Dublin and its EU allies can see the huge uncertainty in Westminster about whether Johnson can pursue a no-deal or whether he could even get a new deal through parliament.
Mother of parliaments shut by ‘father of lies’, supreme court told
Scottish lawyer at prorogation hearing says Johnson government has proved itself unworthy of trust
(The Guardian) Boris Johnson’s government is unworthy of trust because it conspired to ensure that “the mother of parliaments” was closed down by “the father of lies”, the supreme court was told in an impassioned speech by a Scottish advocate.
His speech was delivered at the end of the second day of the emergency hearing at the UK’s highest court into whether the prime minister’s advice to the Queen to suspend debates at a time of a national constitutional crisis over Brexit was lawful. UK parliament suspension not a matter for judges, PM Johnson’s lawyer tells Supreme Court
Boris Johnson given two-week EU deadline for Irish backstop plan
Ultimatum comes as sources say PM was ‘surprised’ by levels of checks on the border
Finland’s prime minister, Antti Rinne, told reporters in Paris… it is now time for Boris Johnson to produce his own proposals in writing – if they exist. If no proposals are received by the end of September, then it’s over.” A deadline of 30 September would be highly problematic for the prime minister as it falls on the eve of the Conservative party conference, and it remains to be seen whether the EU will stick to the threat.
(Reuters) Risk of no-deal Brexit ‘very real’, EU’s Juncker says The European Union delivered a stark warning that Britain was headed for a damaging no-deal Brexit, with London’s ideas on replacing the contentious backstop to unlock an accord falling short just six weeks before Britain is due to leave.
Fears of no-deal chaos as ministers forced to publish secret Brexit papers
Operation Yellowhammer documents predict public disorder, rising prices and disruptions to food and medicines
(The Guardian) A five-page document spelling out the government’s “planning assumptions” under Operation Yellowhammer – the government’s no-deal plan – was disclosed in response to a “humble address” motion.
The content of the document was strikingly similar to the plan leaked to the Sunday Times in August, which the government dismissed at the time as out of date.
That document was described as a “base case”; but the new document claims to be a “worst-case scenario”.
Led by former attorney-general Dominic Grieve, and passed by the House of Commons on Monday night as Boris Johnson prepared to suspend parliament, the motion demanded the publication of the documents, large sections of which had been leaked in August.
The document, which says it outlines “reasonable worst case planning assumptions” for no deal Brexit, highlights the risk of border delays, given an estimate that up to 85% of lorries crossing the Channel might not be ready for a new French customs regime.
The reliance of medical supplies on cross-Channel routes “make them particularly vulnerable to severe extended delays”, the report says, with some medicines having such short shelf lives they cannot be stockpiled. A lack of veterinary medicines could increase the risk of disease outbreaks, it adds.
On food supplies, supplies of “certain types of fresh food” would be reduced, the document warns, as well as other items such as packaging.
It says: “In combination, these two factors will not cause an overall shortage of food in the UK but will reduce availability and choice of products and will increase price, which could impact vulnerable groups.”
Brexit in chaos after court rules PM’s suspension of parliament was unlawful
(Reuters) – Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s suspension of the British parliament was unlawful, a court ruled on Wednesday, prompting immediate calls for lawmakers to return to work as the government and parliament battle over the future of Brexit.
Reuters: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would not request an extension to Brexit, hours after a law came into force demanding that he delay Britain’s departure from the European Union until 2020 unless he can strike a divorce deal. For the second time in a week, lawmakers then rejected Johnson’s request to try to break the deadlock through an early national election. EU leaders have repeatedly said they have not received specific proposals ahead of an EU summit on Oct. 17 and 18, at which Johnson says he hopes he can secure a deal.
John Bercow, Loathed and Lionized, to Step Down as Britain’s House Speaker
(NYT) With his roaring cries of “Order! Order,” his antiquarian language and his constant needling of the government, John Bercow, the speaker of Britain’s House of Commons, became a celebrity of the Brexit era.
True to form, his announcement on Monday that he would leave his post and his seat in Parliament came wrapped with one final rebuke for Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s hard-line government. By timing his departure for the end of October, Mr. Bercow ensured that the current Parliament, packed with Johnson-averse lawmakers, would choose his successor.
That starved a future Parliament — perhaps one controlled by Mr. Johnson and purged of the Conservative rebels who defied him last week — from installing a more acquiescent speaker, one who would clear the government’s path to an abrupt Brexit. But it also left Mr. Bercow in place for long enough to preside over the electric run-up to the Oct. 31 Brexit deadline.
John Bercow’s long journey from hard right to Labour darling
(The Guardian) The Speaker has enraged former Conservative colleagues by drifting to the left during his political career
UK parliament’s prorogation: all your questions answered
Government shuts down parliament for total of weeks as Brexit deadline nears
There are a number of highly irregular factors at play here. For prorogation to last more than a month is unprecedented in recent times. For example, since the 1980s prorogation has typically lasted less than a week.
The five-week suspension includes a three-week period that would typically be recess anyway, during which the Liberal Democrat, Labour and Conservative party conferences are held, but is nevertheless longer than usual.
Most obviously, though, the country is approaching the 31 October deadline for leaving the EU. Parliament has been working to pass a law that would prevent the UK crashing out without a deal, regardless of the fact that Boris Johnson has promised to leave on that date “do or die”. With no deal agreed, and noises off suggesting the government might ignore any law requiring them to agree an extension with the EU, some politicians have been dismayed that parliament will not be sitting while the situation remains unresolved.
Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson’s Rasputin, Is Feeling the Heat of Brexit
(NYT) … since Mr. Johnson began unspooling his Brexit strategy, and particularly in this first real week tangling with the reality of Brexit’s complex politics, the mantle of genius has begun to slip from Mr. Cummings’s shoulders.
In a matter of days, Mr. Johnson has been accused of subverting the country’s uncodified constitution by suspending sittings of Parliament, and of fracturing the Tories by banishing 21 lawmakers — including Winston Churchill’s grandson — who voted to try to stop him leaving the European Union without a deal on Oct. 31, if necessary.
That decision drove one of Mr. Johnson’s biggest remaining moderate allies, Amber Rudd, out of his cabinet and the Conservative Party this weekend, with Ms. Rudd saying that leaving the European Union with a deal was no longer “the government’s main objective.”
The prime minister lost his working majority in Parliament and, more worrying for Mr. Cummings, his fallback plan of holding a mid-October general election to secure a mandate for Brexit is looking like a non-starter after opposition parties came together on Friday to say they could not support it.
That would spell defeat for the government on Monday, when it will hold a second parliamentary vote on elections, adding to the prime minister’s troubles just as a bill averting a no-deal Brexit is set to become law.
The resulting chaos has left Britain’s government enfeebled, and its path to leaving the European Union more inscrutable than ever. Lawmakers are now demanding Mr. Cummings’s resignation. Protesters are waving placards with his visage, but embellished with small red horns. Rumors of his imminent firing are gaining traction in Westminster.
Mr. Cummings is said to be plotting a radical response, with Mr. Johnson preparing to defy the law averting a no-deal Brexit by refusing to ask Brussels for a delay, ministers said on Sunday. That could draw the courts into the dispute as the clock ticks down to Oct. 31., a spectacle that Mr. Cummings reckons will only burnish the prime minister’s credibility with pro-Brexit voters far from London.
But it could also drive more moderate voters from the Conservatives for decades. And British news reports said that even Mr. Johnson was concerned that the hardball tactics have backfired.
Brexit Deadlock as Boris Johnson’s Lies Finally Catch Up With Him
Opposition parties deal Boris Johnson another blow as they refuse to grant him the power to call an election because they don’t trust him to stick to his word.
(Daily Beast) His rivals said they could not trust him not to abuse the power of his office to simply move the election date into November and crash the country out of the European Union while there is no parliament in place to stop him.
Johnson admits he does ‘want an election’ after all
(Politico Eu) Boris Johnson admitted he wants a general election, undermining his earlier argument that he’d only push for one after being forced into it by opposition parties trying to stop a no-deal Brexit.
Speaking at his first prime minister’s questions (PMQs) session in the House of Commons, Johnson responded to criticism from the Scottish National Party’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford by saying: “I’m a democrat because I not only want to respect the will of the people in respect to the referendum, but I also want to have an election.”
He quickly corrected himself, adding: “Or I’m also willing to have an election if the … [opposition] bill goes through.”
Boris Johnson loses control
(Politico Eu) Boris Johnson is still in power, but not in control. Facing his first House of Commons vote on the first day of the new parliamentary term, Johnson fell to a heavy defeat, as 21 of his own Conservative MPs joined forces with opposition parties to back the first stage of legislation that will delay Brexit — again — if no deal with the EU is in sight.
Like his predecessor Theresa May, Johnson faced a hostile parliament with a slim majority. Unlike her, he gambled the unity of his party in order to push Brexit through and paid a heavy price. While he remains in office, still determined, he says, to secure a better deal and take the U.K. out of the European Union by the end of October, his authority is shattered.
“Hardline tactics failed to deliver the numbers for Johnson, as he lost by 328 to 301 votes in a late-night sitting in the House of Commons.
“Instead he now finds himself at the command of a minority government 22 MPs short of a majority, having effectively sacked some of his own most eminent MPs.”
Brexit: Boris Johnson defeated as MPs take control
In total, 21 Tory MPs, including a number of ex-cabinet ministers, joined opposition parties to defeat the government.
After the vote, Downing Street said those Tory MPs who rebelled would have the whip removed, effectively expelling them from the parliamentary party.
1 – 2 September
Election speculation mounts in Britain on eve of “last chance” Brexit battle
(Reuters) Prime Minister Boris Johnson summoned ministers to an impromptu meeting on Monday, stoking speculation he could call an election if parliament defeats him over a Brexit plan opponents fear could push the United Kingdom into a ruinous no-deal exit.
Johnson’s promise to take the country out of the European Union on Oct. 31 with or without a divorce deal has propelled the United Kingdom towards a constitutional crisis and a battle with the 27 other members of the bloc.
An alliance of opposition lawmakers are plotting with rebels in Johnson’s Conservative Party to take control of parliament and tie the government’s hands with legislation that would block a no-deal exit.
Just 24 hours until parliament returns on Tuesday from its summer break, Johnson’s enforcers warned rebels that if they voted against the government they would be kicked out of his Conservative Party.
The Spectator: No-one really knows what’s going to happen this week. In normal times, it would be dominated by Wednesday’s spending review, but it’s not clear if that’s even going to go ahead. The main drama will be around whether MPs are able to take control of the order paper using an emergency debate under Standing Order 24. The purpose of this will be to introduce legislation which would force Boris Johnson to ask for an extension to the current Brexit deadline of 31 October. This route is still fraught with difficulty: we do not know whether enough MPs will back the rebels, for one thing. Johnson has warned Tories that if they do vote for this extension legislation, then they will be barred from standing for the party at the next election, which may talk some of them down. There is also the possibility that the government could just ignore the legislation.
Allies of British prime minister resign amid outrage over Parliament suspension
(WaPo) British Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced defections from senior allies Thursday as a backlash built and opponents planned legal challenges to his decision to suspend Parliament to push his Brexit plans.
The resignation of Ruth Davidson, who had been touted as a future prime minister, along with another senior Conservative in the House of Lords, was a sign of rising worry within Johnson’s ranks that the move to suspend Parliament was sidelining Britain’s elected representatives during one of the biggest political crises in generations.
Elsewhere in Europe, policymakers were jolted by the move to suspend Parliament for five weeks, which some of them said brought Britain closer to a sudden, cliff-edge Brexit that analysts say could spark food and medicine shortages. Some diplomats said they were increasingly convinced Johnson is a brutally ruthless tactician who would stop at little in a risky gambit to force both Europe and his own rebellious lawmakers into a compromise.
Boris Johnson’s constitutional crisis now resembles America’s
However this saga ends — with Brexit or no Brexit, an election or no election — Boris Johnson’s unusual and unprecedented five-week suspension of Parliament will end by helping to discredit Parliament, and to discredit democracy, in one of the oldest democracies in the world, writes Anne Applebaum.
What does suspension of UK’s Parliament mean for Brexit?
Following British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s move to suspend Parliament, Amanda Sloat explains the extraordinary nature of this usually standard procedure, whether the opposition in Parliament might trigger new elections with a no-confidence vote, and whether this is all a political gambit to strengthen the Conservative Party’s hand in the run-up to the October 31 Brexit deadline.
Chris Patten: Is Britain Becoming a Failed State?
(Project Syndicate) The Johnson government denies the truth about the consequences of a no-deal Brexit, and denounces any attempt to point these out as “Project Fear.” The EU is blamed for the failure of negotiations, even though this was almost entirely the result of choices made by the previous British government. To cap it all, the public is told that if Britain can convince the EU it is prepared to damage itself with “no deal,” then France, Germany, and others will surrender and give us what we want. Yet any damage that a no-deal Brexit causes to the EU would be dwarfed by the long-term harm it inflicts on Britain.
Three ways Boris Johnson could become Britain’s shortest-serving prime minister
(WaPo) Johnson could lose a no-confidence vote and resign
How realistic is a Johnson loss? Well, he has a working majority in Parliament of just one seat, and a few lawmakers from his Conservative party have indicated that they’d consider the nuclear option of voting against their own government if that’s what it took to avoid a no-deal Brexit.
Johnson could lose an election
If Johnson lost a confidence vote and if no other viable government emerged in that two-week window, Parliament would be dissolved and an election would be held 25 working days later.
Alternatively, Johnson might want to call an election of his own volition — either to strengthen his mandate to push Brexit through (if Parliament somehow managed to block him) or to capitalize on any bounce after having made Brexit happen.
Johnson could lose a no-confidence vote, refuse to resign and get sacked by the queen
David Howarth, a professor of law and public policy at the University of Cambridge, told LBC Radio that the queen could in theory fire Johnson, but that, more likely, Johnson would be asked to step aside so as not to “embarrass” her.
Simon Tisdall: John Bolton doesn’t want a trade deal with the UK – he wants to colonise us
Trump’s national security adviser wants the UK to be beholden to the US for its daily bread, making the country a timid American outpost
(The Guardian) Bolton has three main aims. The first is purely transactional, in keeping with the Trump administration’s arm-twisting style. Although he says the US is content to wait until after Brexit on 31 October before pressing its demands, it’s already pretty clear what they will be. If Johnson wants a quickie sectoral trade deal on, say, the car industry, then Bolton’s price could be the UK’s withdrawal from the hard-won, US-trashed 2015 Iran nuclear agreement and the abandonment of fellow signatories France and Germany. In truth, Johnson and Dominic Raab, his neophyte foreign secretary, are already halfway down this road, having agreed to join a US-led maritime force in the Gulf rather than support a Europe-wide initiative initially proposed by Jeremy Hunt.
Bolton’s enthusiasm for the “incredibly valuable” role that an “independent” UK could play in Nato, a regular target of Trump’s anti-European spleen, suggests an ever-greater degree of subservience. Will the price of market access soon include uncritical support for Trump’s renewed nuclear arms race with Russia and China, now he has scrapped the intermediate nuclear forces (INF) treaty? And whatever you do, chaps, don’t mention the words “climate crisis”. That sends Trump nuts.
The dire prospect raised by Bolton’s gleeful, hopefully premature Whitehall victory tour is one of the UK’s foreign and security policy outsourced to Washington, subordinated to the Trump-Bolton global agenda, and in hock to rightwing nationalist-populist ideology. Brexiteers promised a return of sovereignty. What’s coming is a sellout – a fire sale at the altar of America First.
… Bolton’s second aim is to drive a wedge between the UK and Europe, and then use it as a sort of Afghan war-style forward operating base from which to disrupt, subvert and weaken the EU, whose very existence offends him.
… the third Bolton aim: to enlist a radically repurposed and realigned UK in pursuit of his singular vision of American global hegemony, of the truly exceptional nation whose power and dominion know no limits and whose enemies quail before its unrivalled might. In Bolton’s imperious worldview, the pre-eminent, muscular and righteous US republic rises above all others, sustained by the ultra-conservative, libertarian, populist-nationalist preconceptions and prejudices that only those with commensurately tiny minds can seriously entertain.
Sinn Fein leader say it’s time to talk ‘Irish unity’ now that Boris Johnson is PM
Mary Lou McDonald tells supporters Boris Johnson is ‘not my prime minister’
Northern Ireland’s largest nationalist party called on the Irish government Tuesday to prepare for the unification of the British region with EU-member Ireland, saying “bullish” Boris Johnson’s Brexit posed a threat.
Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald told supporters in Belfast that Johnson was “not my prime minister.”
Her comments come days after Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said the question of the unification of Ireland and British-ruled Northern Ireland would inevitably arise if Britain leaves the European Union without a divorce deal on Oct. 31.
Bumbling Boris is replaced by the Tasmanian Devil
by Michael Deacon
(The Telegraph) Whatever happened to Boris Johnson? You remember him. Posh voice. Confused hair. Bumbling, dozy, absent-minded. Always looked like a man who’d fled the house in a flap after sleeping through his alarm, and now, on a packed train to work, was wondering uneasily whether he’d remembered to turn off the iron, or lock the front door, or put his trousers on.
Funny thing is, there was a man in the Commons today who looked just like Mr Johnson. But it can’t have been him, because this man in the Commons wasn’t remotely bumbling, or dozy, or absent-minded. … Whoever he was, he appeared to be a close relation of the Tasmanian Devil from Looney Tunes. Whizzing, spinning, snapping, snarling, ravenous to devour anything and everything in his path, his appetite both insatiable and indiscriminate. He spoke at top volume and top speed, a headlong rush, a verbal blur. Up in the gallery, dazed listeners caught only the odd phrase.
“Right honourable gentleman … Mullahs of Tehran … Invasion of the Body Snatchers … Jugulated and reprogrammed … Doubters and gloomsters …”
“Doubters”. “Defeatists”. “Sceptics”. Even “Britosceptics”. We caught those words a lot – invariably in response to any question from Labour about Brexit. We also caught something about “our mission”, and “mobilising”, and “a national effort”, and “bending our sinews to the task”. It sounded as if the House was being prepared for a war, rather than a negotiation with the EU about border arrangements.
Brussels repels Boris Johnson’s quest for new Brexit deal
Juncker said to have told new PM current agreement is the best and only one possible
(The Guardian) Brussels has roundly rebuffed Boris Johnson after he laid down tough conditions for the new Brexit deal he hopes to strike over the summer.
Speaking to the House of Commons for the first time as prime minister on Thursday, Johnson reiterated his campaign pledge of ditching the Irish backstop and promised to ramp up preparations for a no-deal Brexit immediately.
In a phone call later in the day, the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, signalled the EU27’s determination to stick with the deal negotiated with Theresa May’s government – which includes the backstop.
“President Juncker listened to what Prime Minister Johnson had to say, reiterating the EU’s position that the withdrawal agreement is the best and only agreement possible – in line with the European council guidelines,” a commission spokesperson said.
Boris Johnson has already completed his first revolution.
(Politico Eu) The U.K.’s new leader purged senior ministerial ranks of leading figures from the Theresa May era, with 17 Cabinet and other top ministers either sacked or jumping before they were pushed.
In their place is a new top team consisting of ex-Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab — a fierce critic of May’s deal with Brussels — as foreign secretary and Johnson’s effective deputy. As home secretary is another Brexiteer, Priti Patel. Sajid Javid, the former home secretary, and the man who came third in the Tory leadership contest, is the new chancellor.
The team that helped Johnson win the 2016 referendum for Leave are also reunited at the heart of his government. The mastermind of the Vote Leave campaign, Dominic Cummings — a fierce critic of the culture inside Whitehall — was appointed as a senior adviser in No. 10, while serial reformer Michael Gove will lead the Cabinet Office.
The Cabinet clearout was merciless: Jeremy Hunt, the former foreign secretary and the man who came second in the Tory leadership race, was offered a demotion, refused it, and will return to the back benches. Supporters of Hunt, even Brexiteers like Trade Secretary Liam Fox and Defense Secretary Penny Mordaunt, were also unceremoniously fired.
Boris’s brutal reshuffle
Boris Johnson is entering Downing Street without much furniture or, it now turns out, many of the ministers who have sat around the cabinet table for the past couple of years.
(The Spectator) He has been carrying out a brutal slew of sackings from his Commons office this afternoon. Those who hadn’t already resigned on principle, he has sacked or seen off. Jeremy Hunt has confirmed that he has left the government, having had a stand-off with Johnson over whether he would accept another job. It was being seen as a test of Johnson’s authority whether he gave in to Hunt’s demands to be able to stay at the Foreign Office. Clearly Johnson wants to make clear that his authority is pretty strong.
Penny Mordaunt, the first female defence secretary, has been sacked, as has Liam Fox. Chris Grayling apparently asked to leave the government, which must have been a huge blow. We have live analysis of all those being turfed out – and those being invited in – on Coffee House here.
Jeremy Kinsman & Larry Haas on CTV Diplomatic Community
Roger Cohen: Boris Johnson Faces a Swift and Bloody Nemesis
Or he could, like his hero Churchill, be remembered for a single act of bravery.
A single issue awaits him: Brexit. (Well, Iran may raise its head.) His deadline for British extrication is October 31. By then he must pull off the do-or-die miracle he’s likened to a moon landing.
Mr. Can-Do — on a good day, maybe, when the emptiness at his core is not gnawing — either pulls a rabbit out of his hat in the form of a new Brexit deal better than his predecessor’s, which was rejected three times by Parliament; or he embraces, as pledged, the après-moi-le-déluge option of a no-deal Brexit with its accompanying economic and administrative mayhem — a course that would further batter the pound, sever essential supply chains, maroon Boris’s pals in Chiantishire, and face stern parliamentary opposition.
Johnson’s three months and change are in fact more like two. Europe goes AWOL in August. The patience of the European Union with the British farce is about exhausted Johnson has many enemies, a paper-thin parliamentary majority, and the tightest of deadlines. His chances of getting a new deal through Parliament by October 31, or actually propelling Britain over the cliff of a no-deal Brexit, are slim to nonexistent.
So what then? He can call an election, but a Tory victory looks unlikely with the electorate split between Nigel Farage’s jingoistic Brexit Party, Jeremy Corbyn’s awful Labour Party, the resurgent pro-Europe Liberal Democrats and Johnson’s Tories. It would, in any event, be a leave-or-remain election, so why not call a second referendum? After three years of inconclusive chaos, with all Johnson’s lies in 2016 now exposed, Britons deserve a chance to say if they really want to leave.
Boris Johnson Is About to Collide With Reality
He has thrived on theatrics. As prime minister, he faces Brexit’s final act.
By The NYT Editorial Board
Throughout history, chaos has often been a crucible of great leadership. Yet with Britain in the throes of its biggest political crisis since World War II, it will be surprising if that turns out to be the case this time.
Boris Johnson prepared to become prime minister on Tuesday after the Conservative Party chose him as its leader. A master of political theater and the quotable quip, he is idolized by rank-and-file Tories determined to quit the European Union no matter the consequences. Yet his record as journalist, legislator, London mayor and foreign secretary displays far more bluster than achievement, and a disdain for hard work, probity or the truth
Team Boris | As Boris Johnson gets ready to meet the Queen and be formally appointed U.K. prime minister, all eyes are on who he will pick as his chancellor of the exchequer, his foreign minister and Brexit negotiator — though Johnson is likely to be the key person there. If he fills his cabinet with committed euroskeptics, it will signal to Brussels that he intends to play hardball and not waver on his promise to pull out of the European Union on Oct. 31, deal or no deal (Bloomberg Politics)
Boris Johnson elected new Tory leader
Former foreign secretary will succeed Theresa May as Britain’s next prime minister after beating Jeremy Hunt
(The Guardian) The former mayor of London, who has long cherished an ambition to lead his country, won 66% of the votes – 92,153, to Hunt’s 46,656. Turnout was 87.4% among 159,320 party members.
In a characteristically lighthearted acceptance speech, Johnson conceded that even some of his own supporters may “wonder quite what they have done”.
Boris Johnson’s victory proves it’s fiction, not fact, that Tories want to hear
“There is no workable majority in the House of Commons for any version of Brexit. Not for staying in the European Union, not for leaving with May’s fudge of a deal, and not for leaving without a deal, an outcome that would in any case force Britain, on the day afterwards, to start negotiating again with Europe, except from a worse position,” Anne Applebaum writes.
(WaPo) In European parliamentary elections held in May, the Conservatives, one of the world’s oldest and most successful political parties, came in fifth place. Not only did the Tories lose to their traditional rivals in the Labour Party, they hemorrhaged votes both to the brand-new Brexit Party, which is angry that they haven’t managed to leave the E.U. yet, as well to the Liberal Democrats and the Greens, the two clearly pro-European parties in Britain, who are angry that they still want to go. If they repeat that performance at the next British parliamentary elections, they might be wiped out together.
“… the key to understanding Johnson is understanding one of his most fundamental motivations: winning over the affections of those he encounters. That’s the portrait of Johnson (Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, or Al to his family) laid out by Tom McTague in this definitive profile of the controversial man and statesman who would have his country crash out of the European Union without a deal.”
Tom McTague: Boris Johnson Meets His Destiny
Hailed as a savant, lampooned as a fraud, Britain’s likely next prime minister must lead his country through its moment of maximum peril—and opportunity.
(The Atlantic) It will be the culmination of seven weeks of national campaigning in which Johnson has slowly and cautiously closed in on the prize. Yet in reality it has been a 40-year pursuit, relentlessly driving forward, each step a mere prelude to the next on his seemingly unstoppable rise.
There was his two years as foreign secretary, resurrecting his career following a failed initial bid at the top job in 2016; before that, his two terms as London’s mayor, the first (and only) Conservative to win the position in Britain’s left-leaning capital, during which time the city hosted the 2012 Olympics; and his time as a member of Parliament and journalist before that, all building to this point. He has often stood apart from his party’s leadership, and grown more powerful each time. Here is a man unshackled from the constraints that usually apply—one whose personal celebrity has given him autonomy from a party that has instead come to rely on him to save it from annihilation as a result of the one policy, Brexit, he was instrumental in bringing about.