A READ-LETTER DAY : Boris Asks For Extension, Denied Vote

The joke has been said many times already. I can’t resist.

Boris is presumably writing his last will and testament, prior to his self-interment in a ditch somewhere in St. James’ Park.

He said he wouldn’t do it. He refused to sign it. He sent three letters, trying to undermine his own request. But he did it.

Boris Johnson asked the EU for a delay.

And for all of the bluster around his childish attempts to bypass the law, this is the only response that matters:

That’s Donald Tusk, the President of the European Commission, telling the world that the EU considers it a formal request for an extension. That’s all that is important about the letters. An extension has been requested.

It is vitally important to forget the rest of the noise around this and to understand that the EU will, with 99% probability, offer to delay Brexit until January 2020 at the earliest.

Unless Boris Johnson passes his deal.

Which is a profoundly confusing situation, isn’t it? What the hell is a Letwin Amendment? Why are the words Meaningful Vote being used again?

What is an Erskine May?



Click to Zoom

Right. There’s a lot going on in there. Let’s go into a bit more detail.


Ah Letwin. Olly Bolly Letwin. A constant thorn in the side of our current and previous Prime Ministers, he has thrown his trusty spanner straight into the cogs of the Johnson machine.

I wrote about the full effect of the Letwin Amendment on Saturday, but to summarise:

  • Before, the plan for Saturday 19th was to have a vote on Boris’ new deal. If he won this vote, he officially had Parliament’s consent for his version of Brexit.
  • Bozzle Konks desperately wanted this to happen so that he wouldn’t have to comply with the Benn Act, which would force him to ask the EU for an extension. The deadline was… Saturday 19th.
  • However, the Letwin Amendment passed by 16 votes. This Amendment made the meaningful vote a meaningless vote – it removed Parliament’s consent.
  • Instead, Parliament would have to approve the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, the legal text of the deal, in all of its many intricacies, before consent was given.
  • The Prime Minister cannot leave the EU without Parliament’s consent.

So, it forced the PM to ask for a delay, forced the letters, and forced the humiliation.


Things get more tricky here.


Right. The drama of yesterday revolved around a meaningful vote – you might remember that Theresa May lost three of these during her premiership. Saturday’s vote was meant to be a meaningful vote, but Letwin ruined that.

So yesterday was meant to be the meaningful vote instead.

Except there was a problem. One which, quite bizarrely, isn’t being discussed at all by the press.

The meaningful vote happened on Saturday. Most MPs had gone home, but no-one opposed it and it was just approved. It literally happened with a nod of the head.

Johnson won the meaningful vote, but it was meaningless, due to Letwin.

But. It happened. Which is important.

Because when the Prime Minister tried to bring it back yesterday, Bercow reminded him of the situation with Theresa May – a government cannot keep bringing the same question back to the House, over and over again, until it gets the answer it wants.

So he denied them a meaningful vote. This sent the Tory party into meltdown, and he faced a number of furious questions from pro-Brexit MPs. To which his response was largely… well…

I completely, 100% understand why people hate Bercow. He’s pompous, adores his own voice, and is widely reported to be a massive bully to his staff.

But to watch him in full, Berconian bluster mode, was glorious.


And, for what it’s worth, I think it’s true – he will be remembered as someone who always fought for Parliament to have a say. He never allowed a minority, bonkers government to run roughshod over the British political system.

And he was nothing “short” of Napoleonic in his Small Angry Man syndrome.

God speed, Bercow. Enjoy your retirement on the US Speaking Circuit, starting next Thursday. I’m sure they’ll adore you over there.




Because it has to, really. Jacob Rees-Mogg, Leader of the House of Commons and solitary windfarm turbine possessed by the ghost of Neville Chamberlain, said yesterday that the government plans on passing all of the WAB legislation by this Thursday evening.

Or, at least, they’re going to try to.

This is so that they can show to the EU that the deal stands a chance of passing before they decide to give us an extension. However, this is incredibly tricky.

For a start, it’s a monstrous task to try and undertake in the space of three days. Not only that, but doing it this way round means that MPs can add amendments to every vote, including a full customs union or, even, a second referendum.

Supposedly, the government would just give up if it was amended to be a completely different deal. They wouldn’t dare go back to the EU, cap in hand, and negotiate a new Brexit deal that Labour had concocted. They’d rather force a no-deal Brexit.

Or even die in a ditch, one might say.


Either way, it’s going to go one of three ways.

1% possibility – the deal doesn’t go through, the EU doesn’t grant us an extension, and we crash out of the EU with no-deal next Thursday.

29% possibility – somehow, out of nowhere, the government gets the deal through Parliament. We leave with a deal next Thursday.

70% possibility – the deal doesn’t go through, the EU grants us an extension, but begs us to have a general election.

Lest we forget… (1.31)

We’re finally in the endgame. It’s Brexit, one way or another, or a General Election/Second Referendum.

Here we go lads. Here we go.

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