In the UK, MPs opposed to a no-deal Brexit will try to control the parliamentary schedule today and force a vote that would prevent Boris Johnson from going ahead with a no-deal Brexit at the end of October. The urgency of this attempt by those opposed to a no-deal exit from the EU was exacerbated when Johnson took the extraordinary step of prorogation, which basically suspends Parliament for a number of weeks. Under Johnson’s prorogation, Parliament will have only until September 12th to consider a bill blocking a no-deal Brexit. Then, it will not sit again until October 14th, when a new bill would have to be introduced and debated in order to stop or delay the October 31 drop-dead date for Brexit.
Johnson’s decision to actually implement the rarely used tool of prorogation is being challenged in court but most judicial experts seem to agree that it is entirely legal and is unlikely to be struck down, despite the universal recognition that it is a blatant attempt to ensure that the British people’s voice, represented by the MPs they elected, will be effectively muzzled so that Johnson will have a greater opportunity to go through with a deal that everyone now admits most Britons do not favor. Jacob Ress-Mogg recently admitted as much when he declared “the problem with that [a second referendum] is that would overturn the result we’ve already had”.
If Parliament blocks Johnson from going ahead with a no-deal exit at the end of October, he is now reported to be considering asking Parliament to call for a snap election. Whether that election would be held prior to October 31 or after would be entirely up to Johnson. Johnson’s already thin majority in Parliament has slipped to a single vote. A snap election would basically amount to a second referendum on Brexit with both major parties, which are each split on Brexit, worried about losing voters to the major, minor parties. For the Conservatives, this will come from Farage’s Brexit party and for Labour, the Liberal Democrats. This snap election talk is backed up by Johnson’s attempt to blackmail Conservative MPs by threatening to ban them from standing for re-election if they vote against the no-deal Brexit.
Meanwhile, the fears over shortages of food and medicine if a no-deal Brexit actually occurs are mounting. Cold War plans for the evacuation of the Queen have been repurposed to prepare for major unrest in London after Brexit should that occur. A no-deal Brexit would also leave the status of the Northern Ireland border basically unclear and unresolved.
Of course, delaying a no-deal Brexit accomplishes virtually nothing. The EU is not going to substantially renegotiate the current agreement no matter what kind of threats Johnson comes up with. Regardless of what those who currently support leaving the EU now say, the wonderful promises that all sorts of money that was supposedly going to the EU would now be available for the NHS and other domestic uses has proven to be utter fabrication. The pound is now dropping through the floor, which would normally help British exports except for the fact the UK is now abandoning its largest trading partner. Correspondingly, all those wonderful items like food and medicine that would be normally provided by the EU will now cost more.
So this is the state of affairs in the UK. The Johnson government is trying to push through a plan that will effect the country in major ways for decades by trying to ensure Parliament has no voice and blackmailing MPs who do not support it. It is going ahead with a plan that its own supporters agree does not have the current backing of the majority of voters in the UK. It leaves large questions about the actual state of the Northern Ireland border unresolved, probably leading to renewed unrest in that country. It is going ahead with a plan that most economic experts agree will reduced UK GDP in the coming years by a not insignificant amount. It is going ahead with a plan that has some chance of creating shortages of food and medicine, perhaps even leading to unnecessary deaths. And it just might actually succeed in doing so.
Originally published at https://thesoundings.com on September 3, 2019.