Boris Johnson has been Prime Minister for under a fortnight and he has immediately put his imprint on government. Boris Johnson is seeking to play hardball with the EU over revising the withdrawal agreement’s terms. He has made no attempt to charm his putative negotiating partners, refusing to talk with them until it is accepted that the backstop is dead. Indeed it is not at all clear who in Brussels currently could negotiate with him, given that the new Commission president has not yet taken office and the outgoing Commission president and his Brexit negotiator now have no mandate to enter such discussions.
In any event, although there is probably a majority in the Commons to prevent no deal Brexit, that is not sufficient in itself. Someone would have to come up with a practical plan to do so, and obtain the backing of Parliament for it.
Realistically, that means a GONU.
I don't however think No Deal chaos is part of Johnson's strategy, rather a consequence of it. Johnson, I think, knows he's in a trap but doesn't know how to escape it. His problem is that he has to deliver something; the Brexit Party don't. The more extreme Brexity he becomes the more chaotic it gets, which makes his party more unelectable. But he can never be Brexity enough for Farage.
When the DT broke with its Cummings headline last night I decided to mull it rather than post something knee-jerk on here.
This was mainly because the Cummings comments made no sense to me on a psycho-political level. If that was 'really' what they were hatching, there is NO way they would have told everyone. If they thought they could get away with it, considered it their true ace, they wouldn't splurge it all out and let everyone have time to think about how to head it off.
Cummings is narcissistic and anarchistic. He believes in the Steve Bannon-Trumpian zeitgeist that you have to destroy and smash everything before you can see what might emerge from the rubble. So perhaps Cummings was playing, with a deliberate piece of winding-up, spooking the markets and also MPs on their break.
It's also possible, on the other hand, that we are feting Cummings too much. It's a fault of ours to pedestal (it's a verb now) someone for one piece of brilliance: Saatchi and Saachi, Lyndon Crosby and now Dominic Cummings. You know what they say about hubris?
I wonder, though, if there's another narrative at work here. They simply don't know what to do. Cummings was calling bluff, poorly as it happens. The by-election didn't go right but more significantly, Boris is losing the support of the remainer wing of the tory party, support he needs in Parliament. So they literally don't know what to do. They've mooted proroguing and that failed. Now they're mooting the DTel idea of a Nov election after losing a VONC and that looks likely to fail too.
So, take a deep breath and step back. The mood music looks to me fairly clear and this is what they realise: opposition to No Deal is mounting. It's getting to the point when losing a VONC on or around Sept 3rd is firm favourite (incredible when you stop and think about that). And they are genuinely now unsure what to do. So they're shooting from the hip.
What will really happen? I don't know. But I think the answer is something more sane than Dom Cummings and Boris Johnson. No one, no one, wants a November General Election. It's easy to forget in early August just how dark and murky it is in that month. It's bonfire night and the run-up to Christmas.
The odds on a Gov't of National Unity, in place to extend Article 50 and steer us through to either a new People's Vote and / or a General Election in Spring 2020 are becoming shorter.
Oh, and as a footnote, don't underestimate the role of the Speaker, John Bercow.
Will give the F1 markets a look shortly.
On-topic: I'm yet to be convinced Boris is other than an egomaniacal incompetent.
Corbyn will not step aside, ego and the fact he's a brexiter happy to take power post brexit preclude it.
Therefore, who knows? Crash out is my pick.
Up to a point, Lord Copper.
The billions are for Brexit preparedness. The public awareness campaign has been flagged as £100 million - a colossal amount of money in anyone's books - but there may be more with the UK spending money in the rest of the EU:
On top of a widely reported domestic public information campaign, officials are looking at taking out pages in major European newspapers and targeting online adverts at European citizens, directing them to U.K. government information on Brexit.
Part of the European public information campaign will target and be tailored to U.K. citizens living on the Continent. But there is a wider aim to ram home the message to EU capitals that the U.K. is not bluffing when it says it will leave at the end of October.
However, the other problem in this situation is what Labour leavers would do. Even if they'll vote for their own guy as a compromise that doesn't mean they'll vote for the remainiac caretaker. So then you need a bunch more Tory rebels to make up for the lost Lab leavers.
Under those very time-limited circumstances of, say, six months I don't think the narrative would be about 'stepping aside.'
So, someone who isn't going to be a threat to anyone else. A statesman, or stateswoman.
Ken Clarke? Oliver Letwin? Geoffrey Robinson? Margaret Beckett.
I wonder if Ken Clarke is worth a punt. I could see it ...
To have a stab at answering my own question: when a government has been defeated in a vote of no confidence before, the Prime Minister has had the power, but not the obligation, to call an election at his (always his) convenience. So in 1979, for example, James Callaghan used over a week after being defeated in a vote of no confidence to finish up Parliamentary matters.
Two things are different here from ever before. First, the government cannot short circuit the 14 day period. And secondly, there are matters that a majority of MPs would want addressed before a general election. My guess is that an emergency motion by MPs to take control of the Parliamentary agenda would pass. But what would they do with that power? Time for some influential MPs to do some serious thinking.
I think he'd let it burn and go for socialism in a post brexit election, which he probably wins
This isn’t the case now and Parliament needs to continue sitting but it’s unlikely that a government without confidence can continue to set the agenda so I suspect it moves to Parliament setting it.
Another question actually comes to mind. There have been a few bills from MPs that were rejected because they had budgetary impacts. I wonder if they could be reintroduced if no Government exists even if no PM has been identified.
I suspect that the government will fall early in the next session, and I suspect Mr(?) Rose is right in expecting some sort of cobbled together Govt of Rather More Talent (and sense).
Surely we are fast approaching an emergency. If a majority of MPs or even leaders of opposition parties plus Clarke as Father of the House asked for a recall Bercow would be minded to give it. What has he to lose?
I think/hope the EU would give a second extension in the hope of getting a non Conservative govt. If Boris wins decisively, then they know it's No Deal. But they at least have a chance of a sensible govt passing a deal and probably having a second referendum.
On the other hand the destruction of the economy would mean plenty of Christmas bargains for Chinese shoppers, so there would be something to be cheerful about!
Mr. rkrkrk, a problem would be the tenuous nature of said Mongrel Parliament. A referendum requires a question, and options. Or multiple questions. And a time frame. And legislation beyond one vote. And official campaigns.
A lot easier, for the Commons, to revoke outright. The downside for them is that the electoral will see their referendum decision quashed.
What about manifestos? Do the Conservatives pledge another referendum? If they do, they lose all Remain voters and some Leavers may cling to the Nigel Nader Party anyway. If they don't, they lose some Leavers at least (and possibly a lot) to the Faragians.
Easier for every other party.
F1: backed a couple of things, including Hamilton and Bottas to lead lap 1 (6 and 5, respectively). Verstappen's had ropey starts recently.
The reason Dominic Cummings looks like an incompetent twat with the intellect of a dead stoat and a grasp of key issues that would disgrace a fairly bright three year old - is because he is one.
Do not mistake cock-up for conspiracy and do not look for a bewildering master strategy where you should just point and groan at incompetence.
1) Parliament must get control of the agenda (that's logical because previously Parliament was prorogued which isn't the case anymore)
2) Parliament equally must be able to create bills that impact the budget as there won't be a Government which means while they can't force an extension through when there is a Government (as its a budget issue) they should be able to do it then.
Which means we may not actually need a GoNU, it's possible that Boris could be legally forced into asking to extend or revoke within the 14 day period. and that solves a lot of problems for a lot of people as Boris is forced to ask for an extension but can blame others for it.
Of particular interest:
"Until law enforcement, and the media, treat these shooters as part of a terrorist movement no less organized, or deadly, than ISIS or Al Qaeda, the violence will continue. There will be more killers, more gleeful celebration of body counts on 8chan, and more bloody attempts to beat the last killer’s “high score”."
Speaking personally, I see Trump's sick and racist "Go back" comments (which Farage has allegedly said was "genius") helps feed the politics of such shooters.
Now I wouldn't say that Parliament is making things up as they go along but it's cleat that Parliament may be entering a situation that has never occurred before which means a lot of things may be options that weren't before.
If there are enough of them, they can vote Bozo down, then abstain in the Corbyn VOC. lame, I know, but they are politicians.
Although it would be better, and more likely, to appoint someone more neutral as PM of the GONU. The clue is in the words.
The most obvious explanation, as I said last night. Also fits with the efforts Bozo has made to make sure that anyone with qualms about no deal is on the backbenches.
No, so I guess Bercow has some leeway. But an emergency motion appears the principal opportunity, if he took one, as there will be no other business and no business motions to amend.
So focus on what message this cunning plan is designed to send (or set up).
AIUI, his reputation largely rests on his work for the Leave campaign plus, as Dr Y indicates, some highly questionable work at Education.
Edited for incorrect comma use.
I see more likely that BoJo rows back. Although quite how that happens goodness only knows. But it's his premiership also don't forget.
(3)An early parliamentary general election is also to take place if—
(a)the House of Commons passes a motion in the form set out in subsection (4), and
(b)the period of 14 days after the day on which that motion is passed ends without the House passing a motion in the form set out in subsection (5).
(4)The form of motion for the purposes of subsection (3)(a) is—
“That this House has no confidence in Her Majesty's Government.”
(5)The form of motion for the purposes of subsection (3)(b) is—
“That this House has confidence in Her Majesty's Government.”
So there is nothing there that states Parliamentary business stops and there is no convention regarding what should happen as it's never occurred before.
Not that it's likely but it would be funny if:-
Boris is VoNCed
Parliament insists on an extension until 2022
Boris is given confidence after asking for the extension...
And who have been proved tragically correct?
Edit - it's worth pointing out a great many academics involved in the reforms also grew very frustrated at him for ignoring their advice. This is one reason why we've ended up with qualifications that are actually further from degree level study than the previous ones were.
If he has an election pre Oct 31st and secures a majority then all options become open to him (and with a five year Parliament ahead his position as Tory leader will be secure - the ERG will not have the votes to remove him). An election post Oct 31st with No deal Brexit chaos swirling around him and he has no options at all.
The earliest date realistically is October 10th - and for that date he needs 440 MPs to vote for an election by September 10th - which just isn't going to happen.
Which is why the govt is taking us out on 31/10.
Maybe he just doesn't like all his faults being laid out in sharp relief like this?
Unless Parliament prevents him. My point is that is not necessarily something he objects to, which is the flaw in assuming that he would follow through on various devices to avert that (ie. proroguing, timing the election (if he has a choice) post rather than pre Oct 31st etc).
His dream scenario is securing a Parliamentary majority in advance of October 31st. Giving him a theoretical 5 years to resolve the mess.
It hasn't been spoiled by the two resident Alt-Rights who, for me at any rate, just post repeated and repetitive rants (not Richard Tyndall who is usually considered and thought-provoking).
For the same reason I didn't come on here last night IanB2, so it's interesting you wondered the same about the goading by Johnson-Cummings.
I know it's not very likely but I could see him as a tolerable caretaker to a majority in the HoC whilst a new People's Vote is put through its paces or preparations are made for a Spring GE.
A General Election risks no decision at all. There's every chance we get a hung Parliament or one with a tiny majority that can't pass anything.
Progress in whatever direction needs to be made. The endless dither is ridiculous. That's why I was so surprised May didn't tack on a threat of another referendum to her second deal attempt in the Commons.
Her self-made red lines really were quite bizarre and for the most part totally unnecessary.
He's already made sure that a whole bunch of disgruntled former ministers are on the backbenchers. He's now engaged in winding them up enough to do the right thing....
edit? afterthought: Maybe it's also the only way to sell a subsequent soft Brexit (assuming a favourable GE) that Bozo probably wants; after nearly losing Brexit altogether MPs might be more amendable to compromise (or he gets a large enough majority)
If he goes for a General Election he really does risk losing. So you may well be right. They stoke it all up over the next 4 weeks to the point where Parliament is clearly going to VONC him and so he Extends Article 50 on the grounds that the nasty evil Parliament are opposing the will of the people.
But the over-thinking point was a good one too. They're in a real bind.
I know we're not supposed to invoke war metaphors but in situations like this historically leaders have often resorted to going to war against another country. That's always an option ...!
Perhaps we ought to turn our minds to what it would take to end this particular game of chicken. The back-stop time limited to five years? With a well-resourced working group on technological solutions to EU borders and trade? Meanwhile, the UK getting on with making trade deals they could sign from 1st November 2019? I suspect that package would get through Westminster. I also suspect our PM would take it as a "win". And let's face it, it's no more of a last-minute trade-off than we have become used to as EU standard operating procedure.
The net effect would be to ensure that the trade deal needs to be negotiated and signed within five years. If Boris wants to pound his chest some more for the cameras, he can add that at the first sniff of bad faith from Brussels in those negotiations, he will walk away from the deal - in its entirety.
But we have had three years of the establised orders of London and Brussels telling us none of this is possible. They will lose some face - and some power - if any such deal happened. May's premiership will be judged by history as three wasted years. But hey, what is a bit of egg on face compared to their trade surplus with the UK largely continuing as before, the risk of recession (from Brexit, at least) slain. Because if the EU are not prepared to revisit the Brexit departure arrangements in the light of new circumstances, some might question whether they really are an organistion whose over-riding obligation is looking after the economic interests of their members.
Hence the frantic thinking taking place on the Remain side about trying to better organise.
May I just say how grateful we all should be for your 'musings' which are very interesting and thought provoking. Thank you
Last night I commented on how I have enjoyed two days away from brexit in our garden and watching the cricket. There is so much to be grateful for and especially as my son in law and his sister face the agonies of telling their dementia suffering mother that she will have to go into care this week because her husband and carer is in hospital and is unlikely to be able to care for her on his return home.
The discussions last night were frightening and seem to be based on the pro remain pro leave bias of the posters and I decided to leave everyone to it
I would just say that if Alastair is unable to give definitive advice on where we go from here I certainly do not feel able to either but Cummings, for all his stupidity, seems to be parroting the ERG line that unless legislation is passed to stop it, we are out on a no deal on the 31st October
I fear he is correct on this and it gives me that 'sinking feeling' that no matter posters various views of how to stop it, it is going to happen unless the EU come to their senses and start talking
And before we all blame the ERG, who I dislike with a passion, there should be a 'nameplate of shame' on each and every one of the 498 mps who voted for A50 creating the defacto no deal in law, not only in UK law but also in EU law which some may not realise
Like the football chant 'You do not know what you are doing' is their epitaph
Also you'd need an extension to get it done, which Boris has already ruled out.
Meanwhile the £ has lost 15% of it's value which is likely to double to 30%.
.....When explained to Hartlepudlian pensioners by marketing people with more than one campaign under their belt that this DOES mean the £ in their pocket purse or pension fund is dropping like a stone they just might start to feel uneasy about what Rasputin and co have been up to.
your affinity with the DE socio economic groups must make this a slam dunk
Others who haven't started drawing from the pension fund however will be far worse off but there are probably far fewer votes there than from the pensioners themselves.
Heck WW1 occurred because the terms requested were intentionally so bad no country would accept them.
But, as I said, leaving it late is the EU standard operating procedure.
It is quite amazing that the Brexiteer faithful are so insistent that it would be impossible for the Queen to appoint a prime minister who would go on to lose a confidence vote. Given that in the circumstances we are talking about, that would have just happened!
People surely remember the speculation that Johnson would never become PM in the first place because the Queen could not be advised that he would have the support of the House. Still, he did become PM, and that certainly wasn't because his position in the House of Commons strengthened. If parliament hadn't risen almost immediately, he might have been VONCed by now. He may well be VONCed immediately after parliament returns.
Of course the circumstances were different. He was elected leader of the largest party in the Commons. But the principle is identical. And that party doesn't have a majority, and a number of its MPs are strongly opposed to No Deal.
And the other point is that - as the briefing posted by Nick Palmer last night shows - unless there is a clear-cut declaration by a group of parties commanding a majority - the procedure by which the Queen would be advised becomes very informal and very uncertain. How many times over the last few months have the results of votes on Brexit been reliably predictable? And even if there were a clear-cut declaration by a group of parties nominally commanding a majority, could anyone be sure that nominal command would translate into an actual majority when the motion was put? Between the Queen appointing Corbyn prime minister and the motion being put, necessarily a government would have to be formed, and the scope for MPs in an exceptionally fragmented hung parliament to change their minds after that process is clear - not just over Brexit, but over any number of other issues.
I'm afraid that as usual, we have the Brexiteer faithful trumpeting as a fact what they would _like_ to be true, and losing contact with reality in the process.
But in any case, what is crystal clear is that _if_ the Queen _did_ ask Corbyn to form a government, then he would be prime minister, not Johnson. And even if that government subsequently failed to win a confidence vote, he would remain prime minister throughout the subsequent election campaign, not Johnson.
I see no evidence that the EU are perturbed or going to blink.
No backstop means a hard border as certain as no deal.