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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.”
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.
- 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.