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Old 08-01-2019, 08:57 PM
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UK politics gets more interesting: Tory working majority of 1


The Liberal Democrats just won a by-election and now the Tories are down to a working majority of just 1.

https://news.sky.com/story/brecon-an...hnson-11775356

There’s no way Boris Johnson can survive a confidence vote, right?

So Brexit will be postponed again. It’s just too bad that Jeremy Corbyn is so useless, any other Labour leader would be looking at a Blair like crushing of the Tories.

So, new elections in autumn and a Labour/Liberal Democrats/SNP/Green coalition?
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Last edited by dalej42; 08-01-2019 at 08:57 PM.
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Old 08-01-2019, 09:24 PM
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Doesn't "Brexit will be postponed again" depend on Europe rather unbelievably going along with it again? It looks like Boris has decided to go belligerent on demands Europe is unlikely to accept and as far as Brexit timeline goes, a no confidence vote means nothing. How can they cobble together a brand new government and bargain with Europe between now and Oct 31? I can't see how hard Brexit isn't pretty much gonna happen now.
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Old 08-01-2019, 10:09 PM
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Brexit won't be postponed. Johnson can simply do nothing and it passes. Even booting him out of office won't work, because noone can pass a Brexit deal. (It's easy for Brexit dealers to criticize Johnson, but their attempts won't work.) Johnson just isn't going to try as hard as Theresa May, so the chances of a deal go from 0% to 0%.

The UK already voted for Brexit, and the EU has set a pretty firm deadline (which can only change if Johnson gives a you know what, but he doesn't). I don't support Brexit but the UK voted for it, and now they have to face the consequences. It's called being responsible. (Well, sparking a war in Northern Ireland isn't responsible, but someone should have thought about that earlier.)
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Old 08-01-2019, 10:13 PM
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If Boris is forced into a general election (or, indeed, chooses to seek a general election) the big unanswered question is whether he will then seek a short further extension of the A50 period so that it does not expire until some time after the election and the formation of the post-election government.

You can argue this one either way. On the one hand, he should do so in order to preserve the freedom of the post-election government to address Brexit in accordance with whatever mandate it may have sought and received in the election. On the other hand, Parliament has already approved serving of A50 notice, and has already enacted legislation, under both of which the UK will leave the EU after a set time, without a withdrawal agreement if none has been made by that time. Why should the already-enacted will of Parliament be suspended merely because an election is called? It's one thing for a government in caretaker mode pending an election not to make signficant, hard-to-reverse policy decisions; quite another for a government in caretaker mode to reverse or suspect significant policy decisions already made by Parliament.

My guess is that Boris would seek a deferral in this situation, complaining all the while that he was being forced to do so. But my guess could very easily be wrong.

If he does seek a short deferral in this situation, though, I am fairly confident that the EU would grant it.
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Old 08-01-2019, 10:44 PM
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What would be the point of (another) election? The biggest political choices are a pro-Brexit Conservative Party, and ... Corbyn. There's a slight chance some more responsible Brexiteers could actually hatch a deal, but it would be a last minute thing.
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Old 08-02-2019, 12:32 AM
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What would be the point of (another) election? The biggest political choices are a pro-Brexit Conservative Party, and ... Corbyn. There's a slight chance some more responsible Brexiteers could actually hatch a deal, but it would be a last minute thing.
The hope would be to get a government that could govern. Johnson has a majority of 3, but has already effectively conceded that he cannot get even uncontroversial Brexit-related legislation through Parliament. Whatever he does between now and the next election he has to do without the assent of Parliament, and it has to be something that does not require legislation. That limits his options. A lot.

Johnson's hope would be to secure a larger majority, and to avoid any further reliance on the DUP. Both of these things would give him much greater freedom of action than he currently has. He might even feel able to become what you call a "responsible Brexiter".

Corbyn would hope, obviously, for the reverse; to displace the Tories, which is by no means impossible. He'd also hope for a Labour majority, and to become Prime Minister himself, but that looks like more of a stretch. But even a multiparty government including Labour would, for Corbyn, be a better outcome than the present state of affairs.

The EU would hope for a Parliament that could actually take and implement a decision. They really don't care whether it's right, left or centre. Right now they're looking not only at a no-deal Brexit, which is bad, but at a UK that even after a no-deal Brexit will still be unable to address the issues it badly needs to address, and take and implement decisions. The UK becoming a failed state is not in the EU's interests, and a general election would at least open up an avenue by which this outcome might be avoided.
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Old 08-02-2019, 12:49 AM
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How is that possible in 3 months? New elections, new government, new brexit agreement during summer recess?
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Old 08-02-2019, 01:03 AM
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It is still a complete mess several years after the (poorly phrased) referendum.

Note that Boris' Conservative Party does not have a majority. They are reliant on the DUP, who have 10 seats.

It's hard to think of a skilful politician who could guide the country to a solution.
Certainly Boris is not the answer.
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Old 08-02-2019, 01:51 AM
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How is that possible in 3 months? New elections, new government, new brexit agreement during summer recess?
An election and a new government is certainly possible within 3 months. If that offered a realistic possiblity of an agreement in some slightly longer time, no doubt an extension of time to accommodate that would be possible.
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Old 08-02-2019, 06:20 AM
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Doesn't "Brexit will be postponed again" depend on Europe rather unbelievably going along with it again? It looks like Boris has decided to go belligerent on demands Europe is unlikely to accept and as far as Brexit timeline goes, a no confidence vote means nothing. How can they cobble together a brand new government and bargain with Europe between now and Oct 31? I can't see how hard Brexit isn't pretty much gonna happen now.
If Boris is successful and manages to get an alternate Withdrawal Agreement with the EU that's acceptable to Parliament, there's certainly time to pass it. It wouldn't need to be a new agreement. Putting in a deadline for the future agreement and weakening the Irish backstop would probably be sufficient changes. Even if there were further delays due to UK legislative procedural requirements, the EU would certainly offer an extension to the point where the alternate Withdrawal Agreement would become UK law. However, I think it's very unlikely Johnson will get agreement on a substantially different Withdrawal Agreement.

The next possibility is if there's a successful vote of No Confidence, no new government is formed with current MP's and a general election is called. There's just time for that to happen before 31 October. Parliament returns from the summer recess on 03 September. If the motion for a vote of No Confidence is made on that date, the earliest date for a general election is 25 October, which is a Friday. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-49004486
Suppose a Labour/Liberal Democrat coalition emerges over the weekend with an agreement to hold a second referendum. I'm sure the EU would allow a delay while that second referendum was held.

The third possibility is that no motion for a vote of No Confidence is made, or Johnson is able to win that vote. If that happens, he sits on his hands for two months, and then Brexit under WTO terms happens.
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Old 08-02-2019, 08:38 AM
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So, again with the UK politics question: Let's say I am a Tory who is a hard no-deal Brexiteer. Wouldn't it be to my benefit to vote with Labour on the no-confidence vote in order to cause a new election to be held, thereby running out the clock on the possibility of a deal?

What's better than proroguing Parliament if not dissolving it (for a time)?
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Old 08-02-2019, 10:59 AM
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If he does seek a short deferral in this situation, though, I am fairly confident that the EU would grant it.
Why?

This confidence seems to be reflected in the British media. I don't understand. Why on earth would the EU do this, when they have said repeatedly and clearly that they would not, and when there is no prospect that the results of any British election would solve the problems that Parliament has been failing to deal with throughout 2019?

[Edit: re-reading the response, I see the point about the failed state, but that doesn't seem tenable as a motivator to me.]

Last edited by Dr. Drake; 08-02-2019 at 11:00 AM.
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Old 08-02-2019, 11:36 AM
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UDS and Wrenching Spanners, I understand that theoretically you just barely squeeze in a new election, government, and agreement. I don't understand how anyone could think it's remotely realistic. To move that quickly people would have to be really working together and that is simply not happening.
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Old 08-02-2019, 12:49 PM
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UDS and Wrenching Spanners, I understand that theoretically you just barely squeeze in a new election, government, and agreement. I don't understand how anyone could think it's remotely realistic. To move that quickly people would have to be really working together and that is simply not happening.
I don't think a new deal is realistic. Either the EU would be offering cosmetic changes to the existing Withdrawal Agreement and the UK government and Parliament would accept these cosmetic changes, because hey, now Boris is in charge. Or, the EU would make concessions they haven't yet made because Boris is calling their bluff. I think both of those scenarios are highly unlikely. However, they could be accomplished quickly. Note that in this scenario, no general election would be held.

What I think is more likely is that a vote of confidence takes place, the government loses both it and the general election that follows, and they are replaced by a Labour/Liberal Democrat coalition. A second referendum would be the price the Liberal Democrats would demand to join a coalition government. I'm sure the EU would agree to a postponement in order for a second referendum to be held. I think this is a likely scenario, although how probable it is, I couldn't say. Ballpark SWAG? 35% to 55% probability.

I suppose an option I haven't considered is that Labour wins enough seats that Corbyn doesn't have to form a coalition, or only has to form a weak version of one. In that case, he might ask for a postponement so he can negotiate his form of a Withdrawal Agreement. I think a strong Labour result is unlikely, and goes against recent trends, but it's not impossible.

On a side note, I'm not going to do the electoral math to figure out what it would take for the Liberal Democrats to come out with the most seats following a general election. However, I would absolutely laugh my ass off if Jeremy Corbyn has waited for the Conservatives to self-destruct, but has done such a poor job leading his party that they end up the junior partners in a coalition.
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Old 08-02-2019, 12:55 PM
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So, again with the UK politics question: Let's say I am a Tory who is a hard no-deal Brexiteer. Wouldn't it be to my benefit to vote with Labour on the no-confidence vote in order to cause a new election to be held, thereby running out the clock on the possibility of a deal?

What's better than proroguing Parliament if not dissolving it (for a time)?
Any parliamentarian that votes against his own party in a vote of no-confidence, especially one that is lost, is very likely to be deselected from running for his seat again. Also, there would be a strong risk of the Conservatives losing the general election. Those are pretty high prices to pay for a tactical vote to ensure something that's going to happen anyway.
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Old 08-02-2019, 02:07 PM
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Any parliamentarian that votes against his own party in a vote of no-confidence, especially one that is lost, is very likely to be deselected from running for his seat again. Also, there would be a strong risk of the Conservatives losing the general election. Those are pretty high prices to pay for a tactical vote to ensure something that's going to happen anyway.
What about someone like Ken Clarke who isn’t going to stand again?
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Old 08-02-2019, 05:31 PM
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What about someone like Ken Clarke who isn’t going to stand again?
Would Ken Clarke take a principled stand and vote in favour of a No Confidence motion in opposition to a No-Deal Brexit? Yes, that's a definite possibility.

Would Ken Clarke vote tactically to enable Brexit as a procedural tactic? No.
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Old 08-02-2019, 06:19 PM
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. . . (Well, sparking a war in Northern Ireland isn't responsible, but someone should have thought about that earlier.)
Off topic, but the right people are here so please forgive me for asking: How likely is a return to sustained violence in Ireland with a no-deal Brexit? I ask out of foreigner's ignorance. Thanks.
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Old 08-02-2019, 08:06 PM
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Off topic, but the right people are here so please forgive me for asking: How likely is a return to sustained violence in Ireland with a no-deal Brexit? I ask out of foreigner's ignorance. Thanks.
I'm a Canadian, so my answer would be conjecture.

I don't know if there would be violence (at least not massive organized violence) but both Protestants and Catholics want to be connected to Ireland. I'm not exactly sure what the Protestants get out of it, but the DUP is a Protestant party and they don't want trade barriers there.
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Old 08-02-2019, 08:16 PM
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What they need to do is to cancel Brexit, and hold a new referendum with the real choices: Continued EU membership, or a crash exit with no deal whatsoever. What the (bare) majority voted for was a chimera: A withdrawal from all of the responsibilities of membership, but maintenance of all of the benefits. That doesn't and can't exist, and I think that's finally becoming clear to the people.

Nearly half the country voted for remaining. Nobody voted for a crash. Remaining is the only responsible option.

But I don't think there's any politician on the island with the balls to admit that.
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Old 08-02-2019, 09:09 PM
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What nuance of UK politics is expected to be discussed in this thread that cannot be accommodated in one of the other current ones? I mean, given the pressure of events, it's all mostly Brexit anyway.

KarlGauss asks a perfectly good question - but it is one that has been discussed for literally years in the various threads. There's only so many times that UK posters can be expected to answer the same questions, and it is sub-optimal when new threads are created on what seems to be random whim.
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Old 08-02-2019, 09:26 PM
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What nuance of UK politics is expected to be discussed in this thread that cannot be accommodated in one of the other current ones? I mean, given the pressure of events, it's all mostly Brexit anyway.

KarlGauss asks a perfectly good question - but it is one that has been discussed for literally years in the various threads. There's only so many times that UK posters can be expected to answer the same questions, and it is sub-optimal when new threads are created on what seems to be random whim.
Thank you for your thoughtful response.
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Old 08-03-2019, 08:47 AM
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What they need to do is to cancel Brexit, and hold a new referendum with the real choices: Continued EU membership, or a crash exit with no deal whatsoever. What the (bare) majority voted for was a chimera: A withdrawal from all of the responsibilities of membership, but maintenance of all of the benefits. That doesn't and can't exist, and I think that's finally becoming clear to the people.

Nearly half the country voted for remaining. Nobody voted for a crash. Remaining is the only responsible option.

But I don't think there's any politician on the island with the balls to admit that.
Unfortunately politics has this thing called "face saving". There's no face saving way of doing another referendum. It's been three years, IIRC.

I think at this point, people are just tired of it. They voted to go, even though that's a mistake, so go. It's already been delayed seven months.
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Old 08-03-2019, 08:59 AM
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What they need to do is to cancel Brexit, and hold a new referendum with the real choices: Continued EU membership, or a crash exit with no deal whatsoever.
That's not a "real" choice. It is one to achieved the desired result.

But what if you did have a new referendum with "real" choices and the results are: 46% Remain, 23% May's Deal, 22% No-Deal, and 9% Norway-Style? Is it first past the post? Then, again, it is results oriented. You know you will split the Brexit vote while consolidating the Remain votes.

I know you keep saying that it is not sour grapes, but it certainly seems like sour grapes. Not only that, but a type of sour grapes second referendum where Leave cannot possibly win.

It would be like if in the United States after the 2018 mid terms, the Republicans said, "Gee, do you hear all of the socialist shit that AOC and her ilk are spewing? Surely the people didn't want this. Let's have new elections."
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Old 08-03-2019, 06:08 PM
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A vote of 46% remain, 22% no-deal, 32% abstain would, of course, be a win for remain. What else could it possibly be?

And if Leave cannot possibly win an honest referendum that doesn't include magical unicorn dust, then what does that tell you?
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Old 08-04-2019, 07:11 AM
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Even booting him out of office won't work, because noone can pass a Brexit deal.
I thought Hermits like to go it alone
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Old 08-04-2019, 12:45 PM
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A vote of 46% remain, 22% no-deal, 32% abstain would, of course, be a win for remain. What else could it possibly be?

And if Leave cannot possibly win an honest referendum that doesn't include magical unicorn dust, then what does that tell you?
That's not an honest election. That is guiding it by the choices. Do you think it would be fair if in the US the choices were Trump and all 20 Dem candidates in a first past the post? That is exactly what you are doing with this supposed "choice" in a second referendum.
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Old 08-04-2019, 01:34 PM
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I am suggesting a choice between two alternatives. You are suggesting a choice between 21 alternatives. 2 is not exactly the same as 21.
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Old 08-05-2019, 10:09 PM
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If 'Norway-style' is an option, why hasn't it happened?

Brexit is designed to be 'No Deal.' The liars who plotted it all have somewhere else to go when England's economic depression becomes intolerable. But it will plunge the world into a global depression; which is probably useful for existing fascist dictatorships in Brazil, Russia, & the USA; and presumably appealing for reasons to some mad stuffed shirt in an office in the Square Mile.
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Old 08-05-2019, 11:23 PM
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If 'Norway-style' is an option, why hasn't it happened?
It wouldn't satisfy the right wing of the Tory party, around whom the entire situation has revolved post-2016. The whole point of "Brexit means Brexit" was that only the hard brexiteers' opinions matter.

Last edited by Lord Feldon; 08-05-2019 at 11:27 PM.
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Old 08-06-2019, 10:06 AM
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Why?

This confidence seems to be reflected in the British media. I don't understand. Why on earth would the EU do this, when they have said repeatedly and clearly that they would not
Didn't they say the same thing the last time?

While most of the rather horrific consequences of a no-deal Brexit would fall on the UK (and surely lead to its dissolution), the fallout wouldn't be great for the EU either.

Suppose the EU just keeps giving 6-12 month extensions to the UK, and the UK continues to fail to make a decision. What's the downside for the EU?
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Old 08-06-2019, 10:22 AM
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European companies would probably like to plan more than 6 months in advance. Europe would probably not love having to replan the distribution of political representation every 6 months.

If everyone was sure it was a polite secret that Brexit was never going to happen and extensions would be granted for the rest of time, that might work. But that probably wouldn't happen and you'd get massive economic uncertainty semiannually.

Last edited by CarnalK; 08-06-2019 at 10:24 AM.
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Old 08-06-2019, 10:29 AM
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Doing that means a permanent state of uncertainty. Bad economic news might be bad for businesses, but uncertainty is even worse. If you know that, six months from now, the UK will be out of the EU, then you can plan for that. If you don't know whether they will be or not, you can't plan for that.
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Old 08-06-2019, 12:57 PM
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What I think is more likely is that a vote of confidence takes place, the government loses both it and the general election that follows, and they are replaced by a Labour/Liberal Democrat coalition. A second referendum would be the price the Liberal Democrats would demand to join a coalition government. I'm sure the EU would agree to a postponement in order for a second referendum to be held. I think this is a likely scenario, although how probable it is, I couldn't say. Ballpark SWAG? 35% to 55% probability.
I think this outcome is a "dream", largely because a recalcitrant BoJo is already in a position where he can at the very least prevent Parliament from canceling Brexit. The legal situation right now is Parliament has approved and a previous PM conveyed to the EU that it is leaving the Union, under Article 50. This happens automatically on October 31st. There would need to at the very least be a new Prime Minister to stop this, as BoJo will not. There are a number of mechanisms at his disposal (most of these he's at least hinted he is willing to do, or been coy about) where he could prevent Brexit from being blocked:

1. If he loses a VONC, he is not obligated by any law to resign. Under the fixed term Parliaments act, the Parliament would be dissolved within 14 days but the PM actually holds his office by grant of the sovereign, and can continue to function as the executive head of government of the country essentially "indefinitely" until a new Parliament is convened that puts someone else in power. There's a strong expectation a PM losing a VONC resigns relatively quickly, and at the very most runs things in caretaker mode for a brief period. But it would be difficult to force BoJo to resign quickly, he could easily make this whole process go past 10/31.

2. BoJo as Prime Minister can prorogue Parliament. Using the sovereign's royal prerogative power to porogue (which he basically can use at any point while he's PM) he can basically shut Parliament down for long enough that there is no functional way for a new Parliament that can replace BoJo to win election and start functioning before 10/31.

The address #1, BoJo's close allies have basically already said he more or less plans to do this. To actually block this one of two things would have to happen:

1. A coalition can actually form that can control Parliament, and petition the Queen to make their leader the new PM--this is what's "supposed to happen" during the 14 day period after a VONC as per the fixed term Parliament act, the 14 days is a time when minority parties are expected to try to cobble together a viable coalition. Given the politics involved, it'd be hard to make this work as it'd be a weird beast.

2. Parliament could directly petition the Queen to remove BoJo to prevent him from using his executive power to delay the general election until after 10/31. The issue here is this isn't customary at all, for the Queen to intercede in this way she would be making an "active, political decision" to exercise her powers as sovereign, which is out of line with constitutional norms in the UK. As per the law, the PM has a minimum period he/she must wait before calling a new election after losing a VONC, there is no maximum period at law. Under the duly passed laws of the United Kingdom, BoJo losing a VONC and refusing to schedule the election until after 10/31, is complying with properly passed laws of Parliament. For the Queen to intercede would be to put her judgment ahead of the judgment of Parliament. I've seen a number of articles lately from various "rags" like the Daily Mail (https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/art...ence-vote.html saying this MUST be done, but they dream. The Queen won't interfere in this manner.

To address #2, it would be complex and probably time consuming to fight prorogation by Boris. The power to prorogue Parliament was specifically preserved in the fixed term Parliament act; and it's a royal prerogative. Meaning at law it is the sovereign's personal power, it is not subject to Parliamentary approval. Such powers are functionally exercised by the PM, as the actual executive of government. There's some other "QEII save us" fantasies about proroguing that suggest the Queen could simply "decline" the PM's advice to prorogue Parliament. This will not happen--the Queen is not elected and she knows this, she does not have the real authority to say no to BoJo exercising an executive power.

The other attack on proroguing would be through the Supreme Court. While royal prerogatives are specifically not subject to judicial review (which should make it an open and shut case more or less that it can't be reviewed), the reality is it would likely be found reviewable under the same sort of logic that lead to the Miller decision. Even when something is expressly exempted from review, the supreme court has found there are constitutional situations where it can still review such things. How it would actually rule is hard to say, and at least as a matter of law the PM is in a better position than May was in the Miller case. After Miller Parliament of course passed the requisite legislation authorizing Article 50 notification, which was then done, which got the UK to where it is now. So letting this happen is actually in line with previously passed laws. The argument against this is "but a majority of Parliament doesn't want a No Deal Brexit." That's very true--but under the law such a Brexit is allowed and essentially is already on its way to happening, no law since passed by Parliament has countermanded this.
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Old 08-06-2019, 01:36 PM
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Wait, a PM who's lost a Vote of No Confidence can postpone new elections indefinitely? How does this not lead to dictatorship-for-life?
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Old 08-06-2019, 06:53 PM
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Because they haven't had Prime Minister Mitch McConnell?
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Old 08-06-2019, 07:18 PM
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Wait, a PM who's lost a Vote of No Confidence can postpone new elections indefinitely? How does this not lead to dictatorship-for-life?
Martin Hyde said "essentially 'indefinitely' ". Boris only has to hold out until Oct 31.

And if he tries to indefinitely suspend parliament and elections, I rather think that's the one situation the British public would forgive the Queen for refusing his further recommendations.
  #38  
Old 08-07-2019, 05:41 AM
Wrenching Spanners is offline
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Originally Posted by Martin Hyde View Post
I think this outcome is a "dream", largely because a recalcitrant BoJo is already in a position where he can at the very least prevent Parliament from canceling Brexit. The legal situation right now is Parliament has approved and a previous PM conveyed to the EU that it is leaving the Union, under Article 50. This happens automatically on October 31st. There would need to at the very least be a new Prime Minister to stop this, as BoJo will not. There are a number of mechanisms at his disposal (most of these he's at least hinted he is willing to do, or been coy about) where he could prevent Brexit from being blocked:

1. If he loses a VONC, he is not obligated by any law to resign. Under the fixed term Parliaments act, the Parliament would be dissolved within 14 days but the PM actually holds his office by grant of the sovereign, and can continue to function as the executive head of government of the country essentially "indefinitely" until a new Parliament is convened that puts someone else in power. There's a strong expectation a PM losing a VONC resigns relatively quickly, and at the very most runs things in caretaker mode for a brief period. But it would be difficult to force BoJo to resign quickly, he could easily make this whole process go past 10/31.

2. BoJo as Prime Minister can prorogue Parliament. Using the sovereign's royal prerogative power to porogue (which he basically can use at any point while he's PM) he can basically shut Parliament down for long enough that there is no functional way for a new Parliament that can replace BoJo to win election and start functioning before 10/31.

The address #1, BoJo's close allies have basically already said he more or less plans to do this. To actually block this one of two things would have to happen:

1. A coalition can actually form that can control Parliament, and petition the Queen to make their leader the new PM--this is what's "supposed to happen" during the 14 day period after a VONC as per the fixed term Parliament act, the 14 days is a time when minority parties are expected to try to cobble together a viable coalition. Given the politics involved, it'd be hard to make this work as it'd be a weird beast.

2. Parliament could directly petition the Queen to remove BoJo to prevent him from using his executive power to delay the general election until after 10/31. The issue here is this isn't customary at all, for the Queen to intercede in this way she would be making an "active, political decision" to exercise her powers as sovereign, which is out of line with constitutional norms in the UK. As per the law, the PM has a minimum period he/she must wait before calling a new election after losing a VONC, there is no maximum period at law. Under the duly passed laws of the United Kingdom, BoJo losing a VONC and refusing to schedule the election until after 10/31, is complying with properly passed laws of Parliament. For the Queen to intercede would be to put her judgment ahead of the judgment of Parliament. I've seen a number of articles lately from various "rags" like the Daily Mail (https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/art...ence-vote.html saying this MUST be done, but they dream. The Queen won't interfere in this manner.

To address #2, it would be complex and probably time consuming to fight prorogation by Boris. The power to prorogue Parliament was specifically preserved in the fixed term Parliament act; and it's a royal prerogative. Meaning at law it is the sovereign's personal power, it is not subject to Parliamentary approval. Such powers are functionally exercised by the PM, as the actual executive of government. There's some other "QEII save us" fantasies about proroguing that suggest the Queen could simply "decline" the PM's advice to prorogue Parliament. This will not happen--the Queen is not elected and she knows this, she does not have the real authority to say no to BoJo exercising an executive power.

The other attack on proroguing would be through the Supreme Court. While royal prerogatives are specifically not subject to judicial review (which should make it an open and shut case more or less that it can't be reviewed), the reality is it would likely be found reviewable under the same sort of logic that lead to the Miller decision. Even when something is expressly exempted from review, the supreme court has found there are constitutional situations where it can still review such things. How it would actually rule is hard to say, and at least as a matter of law the PM is in a better position than May was in the Miller case. After Miller Parliament of course passed the requisite legislation authorizing Article 50 notification, which was then done, which got the UK to where it is now. So letting this happen is actually in line with previously passed laws. The argument against this is "but a majority of Parliament doesn't want a No Deal Brexit." That's very true--but under the law such a Brexit is allowed and essentially is already on its way to happening, no law since passed by Parliament has countermanded this.
You’ve made a very good point that Johnson, after losing a Vote of No Confidence (VONC), doesn’t have to call a general election before 31 October. He could easily set the date well afterwards, arguing that the electorate needs time to adjust to life after Brexit before deciding which party should be leading the country, or some other specious argument. It would then be up to Parliament to force an earlier election date. Here’s a discussion on how it might happen – the third point within the article. https://www.democraticaudit.com/2019...o-deal-brexit/

Quote:
The Commons might seize control of the agenda to pass emergency legislation, as happened with the Letwin-Cooper Bill earlier this year. That bill could, for example, change the law to require the Prime Minister to choose the earliest possible date for a general election.
I’m presuming that if a majority of Parliament is willing to support a VONC, they would also support a bill setting the date of a general election before 31 October.

Regarding your second point, I’m not sure that Johnson would be able to prorogue Parliament after losing a VONC. Constitutionally, the fourteen day period after the VONC is meant for Parliament to be organising a new government or deciding to hold a general election. I think that blocking Parliament from doing so would be considered unconstitutional. It would certainly create a constitutional crisis. Johnson could certainly prorogue Parliament before the end of the summer recess. Doing so would face judicial challenge, but as you’ve noted, it is a Royal Prerogative power. https://www.instituteforgovernment.o...ing-parliament However, one thing to consider is that Johnson cares far more about remaining in the Prime Minister’s office than he cares about Brexit. Running scared from Parliament is not a good way to convince the electorate that you’re capable of leading Parliament. I’d hope that Johnson would face an avalanche of opposition from every direction if he tries to prevent Parliament from sitting, guaranteeing he’d be bounced from office at the earliest opportunity. I think Johnson would rather gamble on a general election than try such a repugnant tactic.
  #39  
Old 08-09-2019, 03:50 AM
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Small bump. Jeremy Corbyn has sent out a strong signal that he intends to ask for a Vote of No Confidence by writing to the Cabinet Secretary claiming a post-Brexit general election is unconstitutional.
"Forcing through no deal against a decision of parliament, and denying the choice to the voters in a general election already under way, would be an unprecedented, unconstitutional and anti-democratic abuse of power by a prime minister elected, not by the public, but by a small number of unrepresentative Conservative Party members."
https://news.sky.com/story/corbyn-wa...ction-11780556
  #40  
Old 08-12-2019, 10:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Wrenching Spanners View Post
I’m presuming that if a majority of Parliament is willing to support a VONC, they would also support a bill setting the date of a general election before 31 October.
I think that is probably true. There's real cause for constitutional concern, Politico reported the other day:

Quote:
Robert Rogers, now Lord Lisvane, who served as the most senior constitutional adviser to the House between 2011 and 2014, was scathing about the reported plans by Johnson to ignore a vote of no confidence and delay an election until after the Brexit date.

He said that while it would be possible to suspend the Commons through a "Sittings of the House Motion" to force a no-deal departure from the EU, the tactic would be an “open subversion” of the laws governing parliamentary terms, and “constitutionally destructive.”
Lord Lisvane notes that Johnson after losing a VONC, could basically block Parliament from voting in support of a new government, without that the new government cannot easily go to the Queen with a leader and get a new Prime Minister.

As noted though it would be "constitutionally destructive", but procedurally legal.

Quote:
Regarding your second point, I’m not sure that Johnson would be able to prorogue Parliament after losing a VONC. Constitutionally, the fourteen day period after the VONC is meant for Parliament to be organising a new government or deciding to hold a general election. I think that blocking Parliament from doing so would be considered unconstitutional. It would certainly create a constitutional crisis. Johnson could certainly prorogue Parliament before the end of the summer recess. Doing so would face judicial challenge, but as you’ve noted, it is a Royal Prerogative power. https://www.instituteforgovernment.o...ing-parliament However, one thing to consider is that Johnson cares far more about remaining in the Prime Minister’s office than he cares about Brexit. Running scared from Parliament is not a good way to convince the electorate that you’re capable of leading Parliament. I’d hope that Johnson would face an avalanche of opposition from every direction if he tries to prevent Parliament from sitting, guaranteeing he’d be bounced from office at the earliest opportunity. I think Johnson would rather gamble on a general election than try such a repugnant tactic.
I think any option where Johnson simply ignores the clear majority will of Parliament to use legal "tricks" to force a No Deal Brexit will be constitutionally destructive, whether it's a delaying action on a General Election, proroguing, using procedural tools to block the house from voting on support of a new government etc. Hopefully that is reason enough we don't see this happen, but it's very concerning that when asked point blank about several of these very things, Johnson's government has been coy and not committed to upholding constitutional norms.
  #41  
Old 08-12-2019, 12:34 PM
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I do think that Johnson is largely bluffing, for what it's worth. The only scenario where it is logical for him to implode constitutional norms to force a No-Deal Brexit, is if he is such a Brexit "true believer" that he is willing to end his political career to see it done. For that would indeed be the outcome if he actually pulled any of these shenanigans. Instead, everything we know about Boris suggests his real political convictions are not very strongly fleshed out, and what is more important to him is the accumulation of power and prestige.

It makes sense to talk constitutional hardball now so that when he loses the expected VONC, he can say he did his best to try to get Brexit done. His likely hope is that in the general election that follows, he has shored up enough of the hardcore Leave crowd on his side that he can hold the Tories together and win a better working majority. Johnson polls as being quite unlikeable, but I think polling also suggests his party could indeed win a bigger working majority. Predicting British election results is an exercise fraught with peril though, and while it's hard to imagine Corbyn-lead Labour winning any form of majority who knows at this point.

I think Johnson's path to long term success here is very narrow, if I had to guess his game, he is hoping something happens in Parliament that delays Brexit but in a manner that paints him as having been the thwarted champion of Brexit. That would shore up his support among Leave Tories and presumably set him up, in his mind, to then win a stronger working majority at the next election. What happens in the interim is more difficult to say, if there's something like a Benn-lead caretaker government that requests an extension to the 10/31 deadline, then Boris can avoid the "blame" for delaying Brexit, and maybe he then wins the subsequent general election.

Even then, he's right back where Theresa May was, and I don't see any general election result that gives him a majority vote on a Brexit plan of any sort. The fundamental issue remains there is no working Brexit plan that can sustain a parliamentary majority (especially not one the EU will agree with), and while Johnson could position himself to win an election, I don't see how he can work out the problem any better than May could. Maybe his ultimate hope is to have a more firm working majority so he simply would avoid losing a future VONC, and thus he could just let No Deal Brexit happen when the (presumably new) deadline hits. That seems like dangerous waters, as No Deal Brexit is still quite unpopular.

Last edited by Martin Hyde; 08-12-2019 at 12:35 PM.
  #42  
Old 08-12-2019, 01:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Martin Hyde View Post
I do think that Johnson is largely bluffing, for what it's worth. The only scenario where it is logical for him to implode constitutional norms to force a No-Deal Brexit, is if he is such a Brexit "true believer" that he is willing to end his political career to see it done. For that would indeed be the outcome if he actually pulled any of these shenanigans. Instead, everything we know about Boris suggests his real political convictions are not very strongly fleshed out, and what is more important to him is the accumulation of power and prestige.
It's the people around Johnson who are calling the shots, not Johnson himself. He is only the front man for a cabal of hardliners who care nothing for Parliament or the constitution. He will do whatever they persuade him is best.
  #43  
Old 08-12-2019, 05:15 PM
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It's the people around Johnson who are calling the shots, not Johnson himself. He is only the front man for a cabal of hardliners who care nothing for Parliament or the constitution. He will do whatever they persuade him is best.
My impression of Johnson is that he's not a "details" guy and that has certainly hurt him in the past. He also likes big projects, grandiose ideas, and spending other people's money in ways that could easily have him compared to prominent champagne socialists. However, behind the scattershot policy and the buffoonish image is a very smart individual who is good at achieving personal popularity, assembling loyalists, and establishing a functional political base. Johnson's brought into 10 Downing Street several subservients from when he was London mayor. Employing Dominic Cummings, appointing Jacob Rees-Mogg as leader of the House of Commons, and selecting a diverse cabinet are all indications that he's trying to secure his political base. Johnson is ambitious and mercurial, but he's not a facade.
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