Weekly Wrap-Up : DICKTATORSHIP


Hello, the internet.

I have something to confess. I sat at my keyboard two nights ago, with a very large whisky in my hand, and tried to write about what I had witnessed in Parliament.

I try, in everything I do, to be considerate, often to a fault. I always try to see the opposing side in what I argue, and to temper my own beliefs by that principle. Call it a lack of conviction, call it a misguided attempt to see the good in everything, I don’t care. I simply don’t believe that anyone can have a viewpoint, based on emotion alone, that supersedes someone else’s.

I appreciate that to those who don’t know me will also read the following sentence and be tempted to think, “What a liberal, airy-fairy snowflake.”

But when I tried to write an article on Wednesday night, I found myself staring at my computer screen and being so uncontrollably angry that I couldn’t even write anything.

I am invested, heavily, in the political times we live in. I have always followed politics with huge interest, because I believe that politics itself is, at its core, a supranational examination of the psychology of the human race. There is so much data that politics gives us about how people feel about the society they live in – and this is fascinating to me.

But that is not what the effect of politics should be. Politics, and government, should be about a group of elected people, in a democracy, debating idealogical viewpoints in a considered, fair manner, and to come up with a solution that protects the most vulnerable in our society and is fair for everyone else.

Nothing in the above has happened over the last two days. It has been, and I say this without hesitation or fear of hyperbole, utterly chilling.

Make no mistake, we live in dangerous times. Let’s file through this wrap-up and have a long, hard look at ourselves.

Links, as ever, in the days of the week.


MONDAY

Before this week’s Supreme Court ruling, Johnson had yet another disaster on his hands. The Sunday Times alleged that he had personally intervened to help the business of a young, attractive American business-owner while he was Mayor of London.

He did so by providing grants generated by public funds (our taxes) to assist her companies, and also personally intervened to allow her access to international trade missions.

We can only speculate about their relationship beyond this, but the businesswoman in question had a stripping-pole in the living room of her Shoreditch flat, which Boris Johnson has been reported to frequent.

Given that the man is a renowned, serial womaniser, I leave it you, enlightened reader, to draw your own conclusions.

Isn’t it hilarious that we live in a country where our leader using our tax-money to bang an ex-model-turned-businesswoman isn’t the most controversial story of the week?

No.

It’s fucking not.


TUESDAY

The big one.

Look, read the blog in the link above if you want the full details of what happened on Tuesday, but what happened after is now more important.

Let’s consider the basic facts of the Supreme Court’s ruling:

  1. Boris Johnson’s move to prorogue Parliament was unconstitutional;
  2. This is because he tried to deny Parliament its role as a legitimate scrutiniser of the government;
  3. While not a direct part of the ruling, the inherent implication of it dictates that Johnson must have lied to the Queen in order to enact it.

So what would you do, having been found in contempt of our ancient system of laws? How would you feel, having been told by the finest legal minds of our country that you were acting against the very laws that define the fabric of our society?


WEDNESDAY

Yep, that’s right. You’d be an amoral, narcissistic, patronising liar.

Johnson had every chance to use this opportunity to back off. He could have started to form a consensus across Parliament to vote for a new, negotiated deal, which is currently his only way for us to leave on October 31st, as per his promise.

Instead, he elected to send his Attorney-General, Sir Geoffrey Cox, out to wax lyrical (in an admittedly gorgeous baritone sonority) about this “Dead Parliament.” Then, when he himself made a statement to House of Commons, his lack of contrition was not, despite appearances, deranged.

It was deliberate.

He undermined the status of the top judges of the land. So we are clear, they did not overstep their boundaries : we live in a constitutional democracy, and the role of the judiciary is to prevent executives like his from becoming dictatorships.

Again, this sounds hyperbolic, but it is not – this government cares so little for the views of the democratically-elected members that it would rather see them silenced than face proper scrutiny.

He flipped a huge finger to those judges, and then made one of the most abhorrent errors of judgement I have ever seen, politically or not.

Jo Cox, so we are abundantly clear, was pro-EU. It was for this stance, amongst others, that she was murdered.

I don’t agree with her name being used by Labour politicians. I think that to use the name of someone that was knifed down by a psychopath for political gain is disingenuous, unless used in a progressive way (as per the Jo Cox Foundation, which is absolutely fabulous). To use it to score points off your opponents is, at best, in bad taste.

That does not, ever, in any conceivable manner, give Boris Johnson the right to tell an MP that has received death threats that her views are “humbug.” It gives him even less right to say that to honour Jo Cox’s death, “Brexit should be delivered.”

She was pro-EU, you vacuum of decency, shrouded under a blonde merkin plucked from the undercarriage of the lady of liberty herself. You absolute degenerate, entitled, feeble, deplorable fuck-wit.

This is why I couldn’t write my blog two nights ago. My fury at the man who holds the highest office in the land holds no bounds.

I, like the Prime Minister, am an Old Etonian. I had every privilege made available to me when I was younger, and I understand what comes of being an Old Etonian, both good and bad.

I understand the anger that is directed towards us, and I understand why. To stand before our democratically-elected Parliament and declare that you know better is, at its core, one of the most fundamentally diabolical things I have ever heard.

By feeling entitled rather than privileged, Boris Johnson has shown a lack of human empathy on a fundamental level. The man is totally, unerringly, deranged.

And more than that: he is unworthy of the highest office of our land.

I write all of the above aware of its hyperbolic nature. I do not say anything lightly, and I respect the views of all who oppose it.

But Boris Johnson can, in no uncertain terms, suck hard, and true, upon my sphincter.

Fuck off Boris, you absolute weapon.

ALL HALE BREAKS LOOSE : Supreme Court UNANIMOUSLY Declares Prorogation Illegal, Null and Void


Wow. Wow, wow, wow.

Lady Hale, president of the Supreme Court, just announced that Boris Johnson’s prorogation of Parliament was illegal.

It was also null and void, and “Parliament is not prorogued.”

This was a unanimous verdict of all eleven Supreme Court judges. This, despite them all having differing opinions on politics, the application of the law, and justice.

They all decided that our Prime Minister, our leader, acted illegally.


I Fought The Law And The… Law Won. Hard.

The general predictions about today’s ruling were that it would be hard-fought amongst the eleven justices. The varying opinions would have meant that a compromise ruling would likely have been found (although a unanimous decision was not required).

Pundits across the judicial and political spheres thought that the Supreme Court would likely decide the following:

  • That the prorogation was justiciable (i.e. a legal, not political, matter);
  • That the prorogation was, in this instance, unlawful;
  • But as it was unprecedented territory, the Court would give a verbal slap on the wrist to the Prime Minister and perhaps spell out the law for future rulings.

Two out of three ain’t bad.

The key difference is the third part of the ruling, or the “remedies.” The Supreme Court ruled that the Prime Minister’s actions were unlawful, and that this prorogation, in legal terms, never happened.

Both barrels. Bang. Bang.


Why Was The Ruling So Severe?

Lady Hale, in her address where she announced the ruling, insinuated that the lack of any kind of evidence from Number 10’s office was a key factor in the ruling. In summary, Johnson failed to provide a sworn statement from any staff member within his office that stated that he was telling the truth.

Essentially, Johnson had told everyone, from the Queen to the public, that he was proroguing Parliament for a Queen’s Speech rather than to deny Parliament its ability to scrutinise the government, but had no proof for this. The only proof was to the contrary.

The Supreme Court inferred from this that prorogation was never about a Queen’s Speech, but to prevent Parliamentary scrutiny. The ruling isn’t about Johnson lying to the Queen, but preventing our democratic system from working effectively.

For more details on this, last week’s article explains the details of the case in full, here.

The Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling demonstrates the sentiment within the highest judicial court in the land that our constitution needs to be protected against populist, untruthful governments.

And good God, they have laid down the law.


Is This A Good Thing?

Yes. Categorically yes.

Whatever your views on Brexit, Leave or Remain, there is a simple truth at the heart of it.

It cannot happen without it being carried out legally, democratically, and through the proper channels. Yes, the referendum was a rare, direct expression of democracy in a representative system, but the open-ended nature of the answer “Leave” means that it falls to our elected representatives to enact it as they see fit.

While the last few months (/years) have been tortuous, everything has happened in the correct way. It’s been stifling, divisive and infuriating, yet it has been lawful.

Our Prime Minister, egged on by his Machiavellian aide, Dominic Cummings, has tried to break our constitution to carry out the wishes of roughly half of our country’s citizens. The highest court in the land has judged him to have lied to all of us, and bypass democracy, to push through Brexit at all costs.

If nothing else, there is a practical argument here, too – a Brexit that is unlawful is open to legal challenge. If no-deal, or even any kind of Brexit, had happened through unlawful means, it would be challenged again, and again, and again.

It would never end.

Today, one pillar of our constitutional system protected our democracy from manipulation by those who do not respect it. Parliament’s role as a scrutiniser of Government has been safeguarded, and the Supreme Court has made clear that those who wish to run roughshod over our democratically-elected politicians will be stopped.


So… What Now?

Theoretically, and most likely, Parliament returns tomorrow.

Tomorrow is usually PMQs. It is desperately unfortunate that Boris Johnson is currently in the US attending a UN Climate Summit, because that would have been one hell of a PMQs.

It is meant to be Johnson’s prerogative to recall Parliament, but seeing as Parliament isn’t actually suspended anymore, there is nothing to stop MPs from returning tomorrow morning.

What of Johnson? What of Cummings? Both should, by most accounts, resign immediately. But if the Prime Minister resigns or loses a vote of no confidence, does that mean that Parliament is dissolved for a General Election? If that happens, a no-deal Brexit might happen by default (although thanks to the Benn Bill, a chosen representative would probably ask the EU for an extension instead of the Prime Minister).

There is talk of a government of national unity being formed, a cross-party coalition of MPs who will work to solve Brexit before having a General Election, but it’s hard to see how one might be formed, or what it might achieve.

All in all, what comes next is anyone’s guess. But make no mistake – today’s ruling was historic. Shocking, yes, but historic.

And, unless you’re Boris Johnson, a day worth celebrating.

CONTACTS, CONFERENCE AND CONFLICT : PM In New Scandal, Labour Lose Plot

Even the weekends are mad these days.

We enter this week with the real chance of it being Johnson’s worst yet since becoming Prime Minister. Either today or tomorrow, the Supreme Court will make its ruling on his prorogation of Parliament, and whether or not it was legal.

If they rule that it was illegal, the ramifications could be huge. Parliament may have to be recalled, Johnson may call another prorogation, or more legal challenges could be made against him.

Yet even if he wins the legal challenge, another scandal that broke over the weekend could yet fatally damage him.

Also, the scandal might be Johnson’s first about misusing his “Johnson” since becoming Prime Minister!

Sound the “headlines-we-all-knew-were-coming bingo” klaxon.

Also, the Labour Party has been having its conference over the weekend. Here, the plan was that the party would come together, form a unified front, and finally be the Opposition the country needs them to be!

Q: How did that go, I wonder?


A: ABSOLUTELY F*CKING TERRIBLY

What was meant to bring the Labour Party together actually threatened to finally tear it apart over the weekend. Reports emerged late on Friday night that Tom Watson, the deputy leader of the party and prominent People’s Vote campaigner, was to be kicked out.

A senior Corbyn-ally tabled a motion for the position of deputy leader to be disbanded, thereby removing Watson from office. The fears amongst prominent Labour leaders was that should Corbyn resign (which has been lightly-rumoured) then Watson would inherit the leadership by default.

Seeing as Corbyn has been slowly filling the other positions of power around him with far-left, largely Brexit-favouring allies, Watson’s Remainer disposition put him at odds with many of Labour’s head honchos.

Not, however, with everyone in the Labour Party.

Corbyn’s stance on Brexit is to remain impartial to Leave vs. Remain. If, however, Labour were in government, they would negotiate a new deal with the EU then hold a referendum on it : this deal, or Remain.

However, many within the party have already broken rank on this – Emily Thornberry, Sir Keir Starmer and Watson himself have all prominently spoken about their preferences to Remain.

This is directly contravening the party’s leaders – and they are the most vocal of a very large number of moderate Labour MPs. The rifts between the party are getting worse and worse, just in time for a General Election.

Just to compound things further, one of Corbyn’s closest allies, Andrew Fisher, also left the party the previous weekend. Fisher, who helped write the 2017 manifesto for Labour, left with a note criticising the leader’s office and their “lack of professionalism, competence and human decency.”

Ouch.


JOHNSON’S JOHNSON STRIKES AGAIN

In other news, Boris Johnson might have used government funds to help the career of an American businesswoman whose apartment he frequented.

Yep, that’s just another headline that rolls by, these days.

The Sunday Times, who are easily winning the media war for best investigative journalism over recent months, revealed in an article yesterday that Johnson, while London mayor, might have used his position and public money to help promote a “friend” of his.

This friend is Jennifer Arcuri, a former model who is now a tech entrepreneur. The Sunday Times alleges that Johnson personally intervened to allow Arcuri access to international trade missions, give her company sponsorship grants and even win a £100,000 government grant from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

This grant was for UK-based start-up companies. Miss Arcuri left the UK in 2018, but registered the company at a rental house in Cheshire, the Times claims.

If you want to see just how closely Johnson got to Arcuri’s career, have a little gander at this:

Just to add more lighter fluid to the barrel-fire that is this story, it is alleged that Johnson frequently visited Ms. Arcuri’s Shoreditch flat. Far be it for me to speculate on the activities of a convicted serial womaniser, but I doubt that Johnson would have been able to concentrate on any business-oriented meetings there, what with the stripper-pole that is in the centre of the flat.

Look, these kinds of headlines used to kill careers. But these days, in this environment, it’s likely that we’ll forget all about this. I hope we don’t, as if this story is proved true then it means that a politician used public funds, our taxes, to give preferential treatment to a foreign businesswoman.

But, despite everything, I think he’ll survive it. The man has enough puncture wounds to kill a rhino, but he keeps trundling on regardless.

Today could prove to be the day where his chickens come home to roost. And they may roost pretty damn hard. Serious, next-level roosting.

But do not think that the fight is gone out of this Prime Minister yet. With his opposition about to quite literally fall apart and anger against the Lib-Dems’ “Revoke or Bust” policy, he may yet survive.

At what cost, however, remains to be seen.

Weekly Wrap-Up : PANNICK! AT THE DISCO

Since our last article, it’s been a disquietingly calm week. Monday was, yet again, a day of pandemonium and chaos – David Cameron’s memoirs were scathing on Johnson’s political career, and the PM of Luxembourg threw him under a bus.

It was subjectively hilarious / infuriating, and at the very least a pretty dire diplomatic move.

But since then, the mood has calmed, despite the stakes being higher than ever.

We’ve been treated to a smorgasbord of mayhem over the last few weeks. Johnson has the worst voting record of a Prime Minister in living memory, he’s been routinely heckled and lambasted by the public, and our politics is reaching breaking point.

But the last few days have been different. A challenge to our political system, for sure, but something more serene.

While the last few weeks have seen various, nefarious parties kicking the proverbial beehive to see if they get stung, this week has seen the big boys come out to play.

Enter: the judicial system.


What In Christ’s Name Does That Mean

Ok look, the fact of the matter is that you shouldn’t have to know what the judicial system does. I mean, sure, you know that “juries” and “lawyers” and “judges” might sentence you to a million years in prison for that time you bought a train ticket without a Railcard.

Everyone knows that. And they will find you.

And they will punish you.

But what most people don’t know is that that very same system actually prevents our leaders from turning into Joseph Stalin.

The last few days have been excruciatingly exciting for nerds like me. But in order to understand why, you have to understand the British Constitution.

I know that for most of you reading this, you’d probably rather have your phone in a constant state of GPRS than actually learn about the intricacies of British constitutional law.

Luckily for you, I’m very generous. The below is about as basic and top-line as you can get, but explains how our system works.

It is also the first of many new infographics that Between the Lines is commissioning around British politics – please do get in touch with any requests for what to do next.



Ok, But What Does All Of This Mean?

Right, then. Have you been reading closely?

Johnson, Cummings, and the aides at No. 10 are The Executive. Somehow, that is where we’re now at – a full investigation into Cummings is in the pipeline for Between the Lines, and I urge you to read it upon its release.

Watch this space. Anyway.

By proroguing Parliament for the length of time they have suggested (five weeks), at the time they have done it, they have, arguably, denied The Legislature from scrutinising their policies.

Their main policy in this instance, if clarification was needed, is to leave on October 31st, deal, no-deal or bust. The Prime Minister himself has said so, many times.

Allegedly, Boris Johnson prorogued Parliament, denying it the chance to scrutinise his policies. He claimed that this was a perfectly ordinary thing to do, because he was in charge of a new government.

Traditionally, this is largely true – a new government would usually prorogue Parliament for a few days before a Queen’s Speech. At a Queen’s Speech, a new timetable would be announced for passing new laws and creating a new agenda for Parliament to consider.

Not only is this normal, it is a good way to govern – set out a timetable for when you wish to discuss things, allow your opponents an opportunity to scrutinise, and then create the laws that Parliament agrees to.

However, in this instance, Johnson used this power to deny Parliament a say in what is arguably the most divisive issue of our lifetime.

…Allegedly.


Ok, So Boris Used A Power He Had To Silence Parliament… Why Are Lawyers Now Involved?

Because there were two different legal cases run against the government last week. One in England (the Gina Miller one), and one in Scotland.

The English one failed, and the Scottish one (eventually) succeeded. The events at the Supreme Court this week dealt with both – an appeal against the English verdict, and the government trying to overturn the Scottish verdict.

Woof. Still with me? Let’s have a minute to decompress.

Have this stock photo of a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy to do so.

What Has Actually Happened?

According to my partner, who a) passed the bar some years back and b) is far more intelligent than me, it was “a legal ladyboner” to watch the very best judicial minds in the country at work.

Lord Keen, on behalf of Johnson’s government, said that prorogation, by the nature of it being the government’s prerogative, was entirely legal. For judges and lawyers to enter the fray would be, to quote, a “minefield.”

Our three pillars have to exist independently of one another. Lord Keen’s argument was that this would be the Judiciary influencing the Executive, which would breach constitutional law.

Lord Pannick, the exquisitely-named barrister for the defence (brought by Miller), gave a masterclass on constitutional law, and the need for a Supreme Court intervention.

His argument was thus: the Supreme Court exists to enforce the laws of the land, especially those of the constitution – i.e. the laws that define our society. Despite the need for separation of powers, were someone to act against the laws of the constitution, it is the judiciary’s responsibility to act.

Johnson, he argued, was acting unconstitutionally.

What evidence is there for this? Usually in cases like this, the government would be able to provide a witness, who would be legally bound to tell the truth to the court.

No-one within the confines of No. 10 was willing to be a witness, presumably because they were terrified of perjuring themselves (lying in court – a very serious crime).

Additionally, documents were released in the first wave of legal challenges against prorogation that implied that the government was manipulating constitutional law to its own advantage.

A bold, if stupid move, if proved to be true.


So What Happens Now?

Nothing until Monday, at the very earliest.

There are a plethora of different verdicts the Supreme Court could give, but the early warning signs suggest it will be a profoundly bad day for the government.

If the Supreme Court finds Johnson guilty:

  • He might have to bring Parliament back early;
  • He might also refuse to do so;
  • If he does, Parliament will tear the Operation Yellowhammer documents to pieces as he will be forced to debate them in the House of Commons;
  • Whatever happens, he might have to go to prison;
  • No. Seriously. We might have to imprison our own Prime Minister.

It is unlikely. But frankly, so is everything these days.

If nothing else, Johnson has had a succession of appalling Mondays. It would either be fitting, tragic, or hilarious, depending on your views, that this next one might be the worst yet.

We await the ruling of the Supreme Court in anticipation. Whatever its verdict, however, it will be, without hyperbole, historic.

We live in strange times.

Enjoy your weekends!

DAVE OR ALIVE : Cameron Launches Attack On Johnson, As Does Luxembourg (!?)


The older you get in life, the less easily you get surprised. The more experiences you go through, the more one’s sense of bewilderment and excitement at the novel becomes dulled.

In a way, therefore, we should be grateful to our politicians for showing us that we can, indeed, still be incredibly surprised.

Not only did David Cameron, ex-PM and rumoured porkophile, launch a scathing attack on Johnson over the last few days, but Johnson also managed to piss off Luxembourg.

Managing to piss off Luxembourg is akin to making Piers Morgan feel self-conscious: it basically never happens and makes you feel very uncomfortable when it does.

Either way, the beleaguered Prime Minister can’t seem to do anything right at the moment, and the last few days will not have helped.

The Johnson bubble is no longer a happy fizz in a champagne glass.

It’s more of a fart in a bath tub.


12 Years a Dave

Ah, David Cameron. Remember him? Not a particularly unattractive chap. Seemed to have some social liberalism about him. The sort of person you’d take to meet your mum for tea if she was visiting.

Also, the catalyst for the divisive hellscape that has become our political discourse.

“Call me Dave” has, perhaps unsurprisingly, been silent since he left office. The day after the Referendum result, he announced his resignation, and departed, leaving Theresa May in charge.

That went well.

Anyway, Cameron has spent the last few years working on his memoirs, which is what ex-Prime Ministers tend to do. Supposedly, these were going to be published once we’d left the EU.

…As we haven’t yet, the publishers got a bit bored and decided to release it anyway. It’s not actually out until Thursday, but extracts have been released to The Times and Sunday Times ahead of its release.

And hoo, nelly. He does not hold his punches.

He calls Michael Gove, currently in charge of no-deal Brexit preparations, a “foam-flecked Faragist,” despite the two of them once being firm friends. He accuses his former allies of being totally disloyal.

And, most damningly of all, he says that Johnson only pursued Brexit to further his own career. Johnson, Dave-o writes, believed that Brexit would be “crushed like a toad under the harrow,” and he would get away with being a patriotic darling without having to deal with the consequences.

Also, the sky is blue, bears are Catholics and popes shit in the woods.

Look, at the end of the day, Cameron’s political stock has fallen so low that his memoirs are only ever going to be mildly damaging to Johnson. But to hear someone who was largely a peacemaker during his time in office attack Johnson so vehemently is enough for it to be worth a mention.


Luxembourg? More Like “F*ck ‘Em Berg.”

It’s hard to know where on earth to begin with this story. Again, nothing was meant to happen yesterday. Plenty might happen today (more on that below), but yesterday was a photo-op, PR slamdunk with a tiny, and friendly, European nation.

What could go wrong?

First, protests. Luxembourg has little over 610,000 citizens, and from the sound of things around 700,000 turned up to show their displeasure to the British PM. It was, in fact, around 100 very vocal demonstrators.

Johnson began the trip by attending a meeting with Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission President, and Michel Barnier, the EU’s Chief Brexit Negotiator. Xavier Bettel, Luxembourg’s PM, also attended.

After this, Johnson gave a brief interview, then was supposed to step outside with Bettel to give a press conference.

However, the noise levels from the protestors outside caused some alarm for Boris. He asked if the press conference could be held inside, but there wasn’t a room available that was big enough. As such, Boris pulled out of the press conference.

But Bettel didn’t.

Bettel tore into the Prime Minister and laid responsibility for Brexit firmly at his feet. It’s quite a watch.

He even posed for the handshake photo at the end of the conference.

A handshake with thin air.

Now, say what you will about Boris (and I have, frequently). But a tactical retreat because of bad optics is not a bad political strategy. If Boris had taken to the podium and not been able to be heard over the boos, it would have been awful publicity.

It is, therefore, pretty unfair of Bettel to make such a stunt out of it. Not only that, but it has infuriated further those who see the EU as pompous and out-of-touch.

So while Boris is getting stick for this, I’d say it’s not entirely warranted.

It does, however, show exactly how much clout he holds with his counterparts in the EU.

None.


Law And Disorder

Today, we will see what comes of last week’s decision by the Scottish Courts that deemed prorogation illegal. The ruling is being appealed in the Supreme Court, the highest legal body in the United Kingdom, by the government.

And honestly, it could go either way.

It was a historic ruling, and quite extraordinary, which means that the Supreme Court might not favour it. A case such as this is highly sensitive, and it would be improper for public opinion or speculation to cloud a proper judicial ruling.

However, the Supreme Court, as final arbiters of the constitution, might agree that they need to protect our laws, even from the Prime Minister.

If the ruling is upheld, Parliament may have to come back early. Many MPs would do so with quite the anti-Boris agenda.

But if it is reversed, it’ll be a win for the government. And by God, do they need one.

Weekly Wrap-Up : Null and Void?


A quick thank you and welcome to all our new subscribers – great to have you on board!


It seems to be an all-too-common way that I start these blogs: What a week.

While last week’s utter pandemonium was vaguely expected, this week threw up a few curveballs that no-one really expected.

Least of all, you’d suspect, the Prime Minister and his aides in No. 10.

I’ve covered the main stories of this week in previous blogs, (links, as ever, in the days of the week), but let’s just have a quick recap before we go off to enjoy one of the few remaining sunny weekends of the year.


MONDAY

Before Parliament came to sit on Monday morning, the government announced that prorogation would begin that evening – it was to be the last sitting day of Parliament until October 14th.

…Or would it? More on that later.

Anyway, it was a day of high drama. John Bercow, the diminutive, angry little Speaker of the House, announced his retirement from the position. On October 31st, Brexit day, he would depart.

As I mention in the blog above, the man has divided opinion. He is unquestionably an egotistical little sod who has, often, overstepped his mark.

However, everything he did was to ensure Parliament was allowed its say in the machinations of government policy and not be sidelined. This is to be commended.

Bye bye Bercie. We’ll miss you. I think.

Then came yet more defeats for Boris’ government. Dominic Grieve, former attorney general (legal counsel) to the Conservative Party, now an independent MP after getting the boot last week, stuck it to him.

He won a vote that compelled Johnson’s aides in No. 10 to give up emails, text messages and documentation about prorogation. His argument was that there were whispers that Johnson had meant it to be a means of shutting out Parliament all along.

Johnson had always insisted it was for a Queen’s Speech, to set out new a programme of policy. If he had lied, then he had lied to the Queen.

This would be an ominous foreshadowing of events later in the week.

Boris then, in desperation, tried to win a vote calling for a General Election, by branding his opponents “cowards” for refusing one. In reality, they were refusing to fall into his trap, whereby he would allow a no-deal Brexit to happen during the election period. He failed.

An election is coming. Just not until it suits his opponents – it might not even be until December. There also seems to be some momentum behind a second referendum being held before a new election, pushing it even further away.

Finally, on a day of high drama, as Parliament was prorogued, everything kicked off. MPs held up signs saying “SILENCED,” refused to take part in the prorogation ceremony, shouted “Shame on you” at other MPs, and generally created a shit-show.

It was fabulous telly.


WEDNESDAY

After the relative calm of Tuesday, the aftermath of prorogation settling in, a bombshell dropped.

The Court of Sessions, Scotland’s appeals court, ruled that Boris Johnson had acted “unlawfully” in proroguing Parliament. I go into this in more detail in the link above, but, in summary:

  • There is an appeal to the UK Supreme Court on Tuesday;
  • This could go either way;
  • But Parliament could, theoretically come back early;
  • The ruling, if upheld, implies that Boris lied to the Queen;
  • This is because he told her he was proroguing to create a new agenda, whereas he was actually trying to block Parliament;
  • Blocking Parliament is also breaking the laws of the constitution.

Woof.

So, Johnson may well have to resign, might even go to prison, and our constitutional integrity might lie in tatters.

Or it might all go away if the Supreme Court overturns it.

Who even knows anymore? Maybe Boris will stage a coup against the Queen herself. Emperor Boris has a good ring to it…


THURSDAY

Late on Wednesday, because Dom Grieve (great name for a spy in a tacky novel) won his Parliamentary motion on Monday, the government released files on Operation Yellowhammer, the no-deal planning team led by Michael Gove.

They told us what we already knew – major disruption to infrastructure, medical supply shortages, food supplies being affected, and possible rioting.

Cool.

But it was significant that this was the first time that the government owned up to it. Additionally, they insisted that it was “worst-case scenario” planning, but in an oversight they released the same documents to Scotland calling it a “base scenario.”

i.e. the most likely outcome. Double cool.

The government refused to release emails and text messages, and the document they released is widely reported to be heavily edited, so this isn’t over yet.

Additionally, rumours started spilling out about how much money some Tory donors were stood to make because of Brexit. Hyperbole started flying around about how sickening these people were, profiteering off Brexit while also encouraging MPs to carry it out.

However, there is some nuance to it – while betting against failing governments is pretty amoral, there’s nothing illegal about it. Most of these bets were made by firms that also had stakes in Brexit not happening, so there’s more to the story than meets the eye.

It’s a pretty terrible look, but usually these bets took place under a wide portfolio of investments, not just “lol, look at the poor people suffer while I bet against them, pass me another cigar, Nigel.”


FRIDAY

Today, just to cap off the madness, Boris thinks a way to break the deadlock over the backstop is by building a bridge from Scotland to Northern Ireland.

This despite:

  • It costing around £15bn;
  • It being over a strait with some of the worst weather in the continent;
  • And it also being absolutely stuffed with unexploded bombs from the second world war.

Other than that, it’s a great idea.


Hope all readers have a wonderful weekend – we’ll pick up again where we left off. Christ knows what’ll happen between now and then.

Courting Danger : Scottish Court Deems Proroguing Unlawful

For crying out loud, I just wanted a nice, quiet rest. Last week was mental, Monday was mental, at least with Parliament prorogued we could have a nice, quiet conference season.

But noooo, heaven for-bloody-bid. They just had to go and ruin it, didn’t they.

Yesterday, just as things started to get back to normal (Labour at war with itself, Johnson insisting he can get a deal), boom – a bombshell dropped.

The Scottish Court of Session, Scotland’s highest civil court, ruled that Boris Johnson’s move to prorogue Parliament was unlawful.

That sounds big. And it is.

Unless something else, equally bonkers, comes in to overshadow it.


Rogue Proroguing

After Monday’s now typically crazy day in Parliament, it was shut down by Boris Johnson’s government. Not in a fun, Skepta way, but in a “MPs aren’t allowed to debate Brexit when it’s less than two months away” way.

This is known as proroguing, and there has been quite some backlash to it. MPs on Monday refused to take part in the ceremonial proroguing ceremony, with some holding up cards saying “SILENCED” in protest.

Now, here comes the fun part. Johnson and his aides claimed that, as a new government after Theresa May, needed to set out an agenda. This would be done via a Queen’s Speech, usually once a year, and Parliament is prorogued before this.

All of this is, in theory, completely conventional.

However, Johnson’s opponents immediately went eye-poppingly apoplectic about it. The real reason BoJo wanted to prorogue Parliament, they argued, was to prevent them from blocking a no-deal Brexit.

In normal circumstances, when everything isn’t on fire, to hold a vote in order to approve or deny a no-deal Brexit would take weeks. Boris’ plan, his opponents argued, was to deny them that time and to hide away from scrutiny.

In the end, they managed to seize control of the Parliamentary timetable, schedule in a vote, and defeat Boris anyway.

In fact, they’ve done that six times in the space of a week.


So Why All The Hullabaloo? The Rebels Got What They Wanted

Yes, but there is more to the story than just Boris trying to block no-deal.

According to the ruling yesterday, our Prime Minister lied to the Queen.

OHHH SNAP

Oh snap indeed.


Don’t Be A Meanie To The Queenie

So. Last week, while everything was kicking off last week, two separate legal challenges were made against prorogation. One was in England, the other in Scotland.

Initially, both failed. Both courts believed that Johnson’s move was a political one, not a lawful one, and could not be ruled upon.

However, yesterday, after an appeal to the “Inner House” of the Sessions Court in Edinburgh, the three Inner House judges disagreed entirely.

In a unanimous verdict (which is important), they decided that Johnson’s move was, in fact illegal. This is because prorogation in this instance was “a tactic to frustrate Parliament,” which is illegal under the constitution.

Quick politics lesson.

The Government (the Prime Minister and Ministers) governs – they are called the executive. Parliament (all of the MPs across all parties in the House of Commons) vote on new laws and bills – they are the legislature.

The role of the legislature is to scrutinise, pick holes, and eventually accept or deny the executive’s decisions. This is to ensure the executive governs to a high standard and society is represented in decisions made (we, the people, vote to elect MPs).

All of this is enshrined in our constitution – the rulebook for how our politics works. It is, at its core, the ultimate power in the land.

The courts yesterday said that Boris was denying the legislature its role to scrutinise. As such, he was violating the constitution.

This made proroguing Parliament illegal. The judges called the proroguing unlawful, and that MPs should be free to return to Parliament.

However, perhaps most damaging for Johnson is that, in order to get the Queen’s permission to prorogue Parliament, he would have had to have told her that he was doing it for a Queen’s Speech.

If, as the courts ruled, he was doing it to shut Parliament away, then he had duped the Queen into proroguing Parliament on false pretences.

I would imagine Her Majesty was a bit distracted while watching Pointless this afternoon.


So What Happens Now?

Well, first of all, this isn’t a done deal – the government is appealing the ruling at the United Kingdom’s Supreme Court next Tuesday. It could well be overturned.

Parliament could return this week, following yesterday’s ruling. However, this is supposedly Johnson’s responsibility – he must recall them before they can sit again. He is unlikely to do this, especially not before the appeal is heard.

If Johnson is found to be guilty, then he will have little choice but to resign. While being the champion of Brexit is one thing, a convicted liar in the highest elected position in the land is not a good look.

If he were to remain, it could be electoral suicide for the Tories.

There is also a slim possibility that Johnson might go to jail. That would be one hell of a story.

Additionally, he has seemed to have relaxed his stringent, no-deal approach to Brexit in favour of seeking a deal. The Brexit Party, by contrast, want a “pure” Brexit. Nigel Farage today offered an alliance to Johnson through a newspaper spread in the Daily Express, which they paid an enormous sum of money for.

Johnson, or at least, a No. 10 aide, told them to jog on.

For those voters who want a no-deal Brexit, the Tories are no longer that party. That could damage them, hard, at the next election.


Yellowhammer

Right, look, it’s too late to get into this now at the time of writing, but the government, after being forced to by Parliament last week, has just released some documentation from Operation Yellowhammer.

This is the no-deal Brexit team revealing the truths behind what no-deal would mean.

In short, it says there could be riots, rises in food prices and reduced medical supplies.

We knew this already, but now the government has confirmed it.

More on this tomorrow. And the next day, and the day after that.

While it might have recently looked as though prorogation might have bought Boris some time, it now looks as though his time is running out.

Rapidly.

Mission Impossible : Prorogue Nation


Thank God. It’s over.

…Again. Sort of.

Yesterday marked the final day of this Parliamentary session, and it was an absolute nightmare for Boris. It was also a nightmare in terms of any lingering bits of respect for our democracy.

The good news is that, after a week of high drama, high tension and despair from all those who watched it, it’s now done.

Parliament does not reconvene until mid-October. For the next few weeks, we will have some peace and quiet. Peace and quiet, it must be said, that should actually be vociferous and robust debate about Brexit.

Sadly, prorogation has blocked this.

Let’s review, breathe out, then have a few days’ peace and quiet, shall we?


Rudderless

Let’s start off simple.

Over the weekend, Amber Rudd resigned the Conservative whip. A popular, capable and prominent Tory, and a member of the government, her resignation would have been keenly felt by Johnson.

In any other time, this would have been massive news. In these strange times, it was just a precursor to a staggering day of politics yesterday.


Berc-go

John Bercow, the diminutive, angry little man that has been Speaker of the House of Commons for the last ten years, announced his retirement earlier today.

It is incredibly unfair that he leaves just as I have found this parody account of him on Twitter.

But, either way, Bercow announced he would leave on October 31st, allowing the current Parliament to choose his successor. This is important, as a new Parliament after a General Election might be biased towards a certain ideological extreme and elect a Speaker to reflect these views.

Many, however, especially on the right, have argued that Bercow is biased. Formerly a Conservative MP, it has been pretty startling to watch him turn on his own, old party recently.

The role of Speaker must always be entirely bi-partisan and unbiased, but Bercow has, undeniably, assisted anti-no-deal MPs. He has changed precedent to make advisory debates legally-binding, refused to allow Theresa May to bring her deal back without substantive changes, and has generally been a thorn in the side for the government.

However, while he has been biased, it is important to know what he’s been biased towards: allowing fair scrutiny of government.

In preventing May bringing back the deal again and again, he reasoned that Parliament had laid down a ruling when it had previously defeated it. Otherwise, it would set a precedent of bringing a bill back to the House, repeatedly, potentially blocking other legislation.

In allowing Parliament to make make a binding rule against no-deal, he ensured that Parliament was allowed its say in the face of it being blocked by prorogation. Prorogation enforced by BoJo’s government, no less.

In preventing the government from doing whatever it wanted, he prevented it from avoiding scrutiny – providing scrutiny is Parliament’s job.

He’s an egotistical little twerp who loved the sound of his own voice, and occasionally overstepped the mark. However, he did everything to protect democracy.

Whatever your opinion on Brexit, you cannot deny this.

Perhaps most pertinently, read on until the last part of this article for a Between the Lines exclusive on Bercow.

…Sort of.


Giving Him Grieve

Next up, Dominic Grieve. Tall, gaunt and hawkish, Grieve has the air of a stern, yet caring deputy head-master from a Victorian school-house.

Anyway. He stepped up to ask Parliament to formally request documents from Johnson’s offices in No. 10 pertaining to no-deal planning. He won by 311 votes to 302. Yet another loss for Johnson.

And potentially one of the most damaging.

During the recent legal challenges against prorogation, documents from No. 10’s office were released to the public. Counter to what Boris Johnson had been saying publicly, these documents implied that prorogation was being considered as a tool to stop Parliament preventing his plans.

It was just enough to raise an eyebrow.

In Parliament today, Grieve said that he had sources inside No. 10. His little birds had told him that Johnson and his aides had always intended for prorogation to be used to stop Parliamentary scrutiny.

This implies that when he went to speak to the Queen to ask for her permission, he lied in order to obtain it.

As such, Grieve put the vote forward today and won.

Johnson and his aides immediately declared that they would surrender no documents whatsoever.

This will not end here.


Elec-shun

And, in news that surprises no-one, Boris lost his vote on a General Election for a second time.

It was, ironically, Johnson’s best performance in the House of Commons. He called Corbyn and his allies cowards, and made some salient points along the way.

However, it was not enough. He was defeated by a greater margin than last week.

And despite Johnson’s improved performance, those who were watching were treated to the frankly appalling sight of what seemed to be most of the Tory party screaming, red-faced, at their opponents.

The vote wasn’t held until after midnight, and it seems, to this viewer at least, as though many were not entirely sober.

It was a pretty despicable display, and unfortunately many from the opposing benches rose to the bait. It was a sad indicator of where our politics has got to.

It wasn’t even the most startling confrontation of the day, however…


EXCLUSIVE : Bercow v. Black Rod

Ok, it’s not really an exclusive. It’s more that everyone else seems to have gone to bed.

But I’m weird. I love politics, hence why I write this blog. I stayed up to watch the prorogation be enacted, just for a bit of pomp and ceremony.

A nice, stupid example of people dressing up in funny hats to offset another troubling day in our democracy.

This is what I got instead.

A number of MPs held up signs saying “SILENCED” in furious opposition to the prorogation, and heckled Black Rod, the hilariously-named lady who summons the House of Commons.

Then, this:

Bercow, faced by the ceremonial figures who carry out the legal duties of proroguing Parliament, said that he considered this prorogation to be an “executive fiat”, or an authoritarian decree.

After he said his piece, he fulfilled his duties and set off to lead the House of Commons to the House of Lords, where the ceremony would be continued.

Then, the opposition refused to follow tradition and remained in their seats – only the Tory MPs went to the House of Lords.

Then, the Tory MPs refused to go back to the House of Commons. They left, not to be seen again.

Bercow read out the terms of the prorogation to the remaining opposition MPs like a teenager being asked to read from their school reports.

Then, after two and a half years that was that. The 2017 Session of Parliament was ended.

Even the act of prorogation itself, usually ceremonial, was incredibly confrontational.


We may have five weeks before these MPs sit again, but if the Opening of Parliament ceremony is anything like this, I’m going to stock up on popcorn.

What a week.

Weekly Wrap Up : Well, It’s Not Going Very Well, Is It?

What a week. This has been the World Cup for politicos, the week to end all weeks in the mother of all Parliaments.

It will be spoken about, dissected and analysed for years to come.

Just quickly, let’s remind ourselves of what happened. Links to earlier blogs in subheadings.


MONDAY

Boris started the week off with a bang. Having planned to prorogue Parliament the week before, the rumours began swirling that he was facing a Parliamentary nightmare.

Opposition (and some Tory) MPs were planning to seize the timetabling away from the government and vote to block a no-deal Brexit on October 31st.

Johnson, looking harried and worried, appeared outside No. 10 to make a statement about not wanting a General Election. A GE was being considered as the only way to get out of the Brexit mess, should he lose the vote.

This statement was made to a soundtrack of boos and chants of “Stop the coup” from people outside Number 10.

It was a sign of things to come.


TUESDAY

On Tuesday, Parliament wrestled control of the timetable away from Bozza Jozza. 21 Tory MPs defied the whip to do so, and were all sacked.

These included highly-respected and well-liked Parliamentarians such as David Gauke, Rory Stewart, Phillip Hammond, Sir Nicholas Soames and even Ken Clarke, Father of the House (the longest-standing MP, having been elected in 1970).

This would prove to be a masterstroke in how not to handle an already cacophonous situation.

Additionally, Boris lost his majority of one – Dr Phillip Lee dramatically walked across the house to sit with the Liberal Democrats. He had defected, making Boris’ government a minority.

He was now a sitting duck.


WEDNESDAY

Bang, bang. Two barrels, two shots.

Boris lost the vote, brought forward by Parliament, to make a no-deal Brexit on October 31st illegal. Now, Johnson would have to negotiate a new deal by that deadline and have it ratified by the house, or would have to ask for an extension.

He then called for a General Election, hoping to tempt Jeremy Corbyn into the trap. A GE would have made the vote that had just passed null and void, causing a no-deal Brexit by default.

Corbyn, to his credit, didn’t take the bait. He and his cross-party alliance of MPs who were united in their plans to thwart prorogation and no-deal stood firm.

Boris was now being held in place by Parliament.

And things only got worse for Boris: he was appallingly bad at PMQs, floundering and mumbling his lines to every question put by Corbyn or other MPs; he was branded a racist by a Labour MP for calling women in burkhas “letterboxes”; and Sajid Javid’s spending review, the grand announcement of “The End of Austerity,” was immediately shot down as being nothing more than policies that sounded good but were impossible to finance.

It was a day to make you think back to Theresa May’s historic loss on the Withdrawal Agreement vote and think, “Maybe she didn’t do too badly, after all…”


THURSDAY

Boris’ week couldn’t get much worse. Surely.

But if there is one thing modern politics has shown us, it’s that when you reach rock bottom, it will always shatter to reveal new depths.

Boris’ brother, Jo Johnson, and MP and Minister, resigned from politics, stating irreconcilable differences with Boris.

Then, to make matters worse, Boris began the campaign trail for when the General Election comes, and it was an unmitigated disaster.

He held a speech in front of police officers, making him look like every part the “tinpot dictator” that he has been recently been accused of being. Whoever thought the image below was a good idea may well have been huffing glue.

And, just to compound matters, one of the officers behind him fainted, having been made to wait in the sun for over an hour.

While wandering around in Leeds, a man also heckled Johnson, telling him, “You should be in Brussels… you’re in Morley.”

The video has gone viral.


FRIDAY

Boris woke up this morning and immediately fell out of bed. He stubbed his toe on the radiator, trod on a plug then hit his head on the doorframe.

He went to make a coffee, but the kettle wasn’t working. He had an orange juice instead but poured it down his t-shirt.

He accidentally said “Good morning Marina” to Carrie, his girlfriend, causing a row, which made the new dog piss on the carpet.

He checked his phone to see that Stanley, his father, had texted him to say that he was being having the Johnson whip taken away, and he could consider himself an independent Boris.

He swore, loudly, and a nearby paparazzo took a photo of him, covered in orange juice and dog piss, and made it viral.

And it still wasn’t Boris’ worst day this week.

Oh, and as a true fact, the opposition leaders fully agreed to delay a General Election until after the EU summit. His week of humiliation is, now, finally complete.


Thank you to all who have followed the week’s events on Between the Lines. It’s been a hell of a time, with a lot of blood, sweat and tears put into it.

I can’t wait for the next one.

I hope you all have wonderful weekends – get yourselves ready for Monday: Mission Impossible: Prorogue Nation.

ELECTILE DYSFUNCTION : Boris Loses Vote On No-Deal, Also Denied Election

“We will leave on October 31st, do or die.”

So far, it is Do : 0, Die : 3. Johnson has scored a spectacular hat-trick against himself.

Two days ago, Parliament voted to wrest control of Parliamentary timetabling from the Johnson-led government. Yesterday, they used this time to pass a Bill through the House of Commons that makes it illegal for Boris to let us leave the EU on October 31st if we do not have a deal.

Then, having had his authority eviscerated in front of him, Boris called for a General Election.

He lost that vote too.

Parliament, united in fury against his plan to prorogue it, has prevented a no-deal Brexit on October 31st. For all intents and purposes, Johnson is now powerless.

In the words of Ron Burgundy, “That escalated quickly.”

Yesterday was a monster day in politics.

For a start, it seemed like it would never end. Not only did we have Prime Minister’s Questions, Boris’ first (and possibly last) with his hand on the tiller, we also saw Sajid Javid release his spending plans as Home Secretary, followed by the two votes, both of which had massive debates first.

Let’s begin at the beginning. PMQs.


Prime Minister’s Questionable Strategies

Boris Johnson, for all of the question marks around him, was elected Prime Minister because of the sheer force of personality that he is. His famous oration and humorous quips were thought to be a salve that might be able to heal our fractured and frazzled nation.

Prime Minister’s Questions should have been his bread and butter, especially against competition like Jeremy Corbyn.

But he was appalling. Utterly, utterly appalling.

Not only did he stumble over his words and frequently become unintelligible, he gesticulated wildly at the opposition, cracked out some blood-curdlingly unfunny jokes and even swore.

To be fair, his audience was not friendly. Not only were the Rebel Alliance still furious with him for his attempts to bypass Parliament through prorogation, but many of his own party were, too.

This is because, after the previous day’s vote, he had expelled the 21 Tories that had rebelled against him. These included incredibly popular politicians, including Sir Nicholas Soames, Winston Churchill’s grandson, and Ken Clarke, the longest-serving MP in the House of Commons.

Clarke was elected in 1970.

Some within his party were still utterly furious with him for treating distinguished politicians with such disdain.

And, liberated from the party’s whip, Clarke laid siege to Johnson and his team over the course of the day, even calling him “disingenuous.” This would have made those Tory MPs whose loyalty to Johnson was hanging by a thread very uncomfortable.

Finally, Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, a Labour MP, gave an impassioned speech against Johnson’s allegedly racist language used in his previous Telegraph columns. Specifically, the “letterbox” jibe.

Boris looked about as comfortable as a Trump supporter in G-A-Y.

So, PMQs went about as well as a family camping holiday in November.

In Siberia.

What next? The spending review, of course!


“The Saj” Gets Slagged

This was meant to be the one shining light in an otherwise appalling day for the Tories.

It was when they were, at long last, going to announce the one thing we’d all been waiting for.

THE END OF AUSTERITY.

The trumpets would sound and the people would rejoice, for lo, the sun dost shine again at last.

Except his plans were immediately dismissed as lies and empty promises.

And ye, the sun didst immediately piss right off again.

The announcements were all extremely positive, with education, the NHS and police officers all particularly benefitting from generous spending increases. However, John McDonnell stood up immediately after Javid and revealed the truth (in his insanely dull and meandering speaking manner).

All of these promises were dependent on a Brexit deal being achieved. A no-deal Brexit would cost too much to the economy to allow that much expenditure elsewhere. Knowing that the vote on no-deal was almost definitely going to be lost later in the day, the spending plans were a desperate attempt to get some Tory rebels back on side.

If the grass is greener on your side, why drive your John Deere through the fence?

Unfortunately, everyone saw through this ruse and realised that the lawn was in fact just painted green. The grass underneath it was already dead.

So that was another roaring failure for Johnson’s government, and that’s before we even get onto the important stuff.


Both Barrels

So, after the spending review, a marathon debate kicked off in Parliament. At the end of the debate would come a vote on the Bill, authored by Hilary Benn, the Labour MP, that would prevent a no-deal Brexit on October 31st.

It was, as you’d expect, a swirling maelstrom of utter pointlessness. Those in favour of the Bill waxed lyrical about protecting democracy and the dangers of no-deal. Those against it called the opposition “collaborators,” “traitors” and “a disgrace to democracy.”

No-one would have changed their minds about how they were going to vote, yet they had a four-hour debate about it anyway.

In the end, the vote passed by 327 votes to 299 – an extra Tory MP also rebelled against the party from the day before, Dame Caroline Spelman.

Boris’ “Do or Die” pledge had been obliterated by Parliament. There is more to this story that we will cover at the end of this article, but it is now highly unlikely that we will leave the EU on October 31st.

Johnson, thoroughly defeated, then took to the despatch box and called for a General Election. To be fair, he didn’t really have that much of a choice – with no majority and a full impasse in Parliament, going back to the people was really his only option.

EXCEPT THAT WAS A RUSE, TOO. Shock horror.

If a General Election was passed by Parliament (2/3rds of MPs need to agree), then Boris could set the date. He could, very easily, have manipulated this detail to time the election in such a way that no-deal would happen by default. Parliament doesn’t sit during the build-up to a GE, so wouldn’t have been able to prevent it.

If Corbyn et al had accepted, the Bill that they had just passed would likely have never been made into law. As such, they denied him a General Election (298 voted in favour of a GE and Labour abstained, meaning no 2/3rds majority) and promised not to call for one until the Benn Bill had been fully implemented.

While there is some confusion as to where Labour really stand on when an election will be called, it is likely to not be until mid-October. This is because the Benn Bill’s deadline for Johnson negotiating a deal kicks in after he’s met with the EU in October.

Johnson is now at the helm of a ship, but has no say in which way to take it. A hat-trick of Commons losses has left him utterly powerless.


…Do I Detect A But?

But.

In order for the Benn Bill to be passed, it has to be passed through the House of Lords. Currently, as I write this, the House of Lords has just broken the twelfth filibuster (blocking attempt) of around ninety that have been tabled by Brexiteer peers.

The rumour is that most of the House of Lords will stay up all night to fight the battle to pass it.

The Bill may not be passed until Friday, or even the weekend if the House of Lords is called to sit in to resolve it. There is also a very real chance it may not get passed in time at all.

Politics? More like LOLitics, am I right?!

Kill me.

There’s no real way of knowing what happens now – no General Election, a highly unlikely no-deal, a government in tatters…

But, whatever happens next, Between the Lines will be there to explain it.

For now though, I’m off to drink a million pints.


UPDATE: Late last night, the House of Lords agreed that the Bill would be passed by Friday afternoon. However, there are some who worry that the agreement (instigated by Tory peers) might have some darker, ulterior motive behind it…