Friday, 25 October 2019

Boris is much more interested in winning an election than Brexit, though the two are closely linked

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It is pretty obvious that at last a Withdrawal Agreement Bill would be able to get through Parliament fairly quickly, had Boris not ‘paused’ it. Ken Clarke said so and so do most people. That is or should be a triumph for Boris Johnson, even though the House of Commons voted, reasonably enough, not to scrutinise it in less than the time they gave the Circuses and Wild Animals Bill recently, which means the Prime Minister cannot meet his pledge to take the UK out of the EU ‘by 31 October do or die’. But the EU will agree a short extension.

Instead of banking the win Boris has pulled yet another surprise in this astonishing soap opera and is trying to call an election, something he does not have the power to do under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 (FTPA).


It has been clear to me all along that what Boris is most interested in is not Brexit but winning an election, but an election will be  a huge risk for him and for the country - since the alternative to the Tories is a Trotskyite government. 

But I think much of the reason why Boris is calling an election is to dominate the news cycle and shift attention from the fact that he did not keep his promise to take the UK out of the EU by Hallowe'en do or die.

Fraser Nelson in the Telegraph points out that “C2DE” voters, blue-collar workers, prefer Boris to Jeremy Corbyn by 48 per cent to 18 per cent.

"The phrase “working class” has dropped out of political usage. Ed Miliband didn’t mention it once in any of his speeches and, until recently, social class seemed to have stopped being a factor. There was an unspoken, cross-party consensus: that older, poorer, lesser-educated voters represented the past. The lack of interest became mutual, as poorer voters just stopped voting. In their brilliant study of the phenomenon, Geoffrey Evans and James Tilley summed it up: “The new party of the working class is no party at all.”


"Those words were written just before the referendum, after which everything changed. It was the return of such voters – missing, presumed politically dead – that has caused so many political earthquakes in Britain, Europe and America. The SNP harnessed this force after the independence referendum, and winning nearly 60 per cent of the working-class vote in the subsequent election helped it take almost every seat in Scotland. What had been called “voter apathy” was, in fact, a failure of the main parties to come up with an agenda people thought worth voting for. Brexit, and the issues it raises, have brought many of these voters back to politics."
The Conservatives have rediscovered the reason they exist, the nation, but Labour has to rediscover its reason for existing, the working classes. This is what Corbyn is trying to do but Brexit has made his party the party of liberal graduates and the public sector middle class.

Tony Blair's former speechwriter, Philip Collins, who is a columnist on the Times admires the Labour MPs who voted for Boris's deal in order to get a deal passed.

"I concluded long ago that the economic damage caused by leaving is likely to be fixed quicker than the political damage caused by not leaving. Strictly speaking, the two terms in this equation are out of proportion to each other. You cannot measure the decline in political trust in the same currency as job losses. What we have here is a judgment call, not a simple recitation of fact. It is not the sort of question on which the wise are right and the fools are wrong. Perhaps I worry too much about the reputation of politics. Perhaps I underestimate the economic impact of leaving. I could be wrong. It’s galling, though, to be told that my judgment is not an error but an example of moral failure."
If there isn't an election and the Government brings back the WAB there will be even more pressure on MPs to pass it than this week and I imagine it will pass.

Why doesn't Corbyn come out for the Norway option plus a confirmatory referendum?

The cabinet yesterday was torn between wanting Brexit and then an election, meaning Brexit is secured, or the other way around because leaving with Boris’s deal is more popular than further delay and Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister, and people do not decide whom to vote for out of gratitude.

Boris has decided to give the choice to the Commons, if he is granted an election.

Politico explains the PM’s latest move . The PM has offered to give MPs until November 6 to pass the Withdrawal Agreement Bill if they back his election bid. “MPs can vote the bill through in the extra time, allowing Johnson to head into an election as a champion; they can vote it down in the extra time, allowing Johnson to head into a “people vs. parliament” election on his Brexit deal; or they can vote against the snap election, adding fuel to the campaign narrative if the public poll ever comes.”


Under the FTPA a two-thirds majority is needed to agree an election. I can’t imagine the Labour Party will be foolish enough to grant Boris’s request as they stand to lose badly, though no-one can be sure after what happened in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

But a simple majority will be enough to amend the FTPA – that will require just the agreement of Nicola Surgeon who can’t wait to wipe out the Tories and some Labour MPs. The Sun’s Tom Newton Dunn reports that she called on Corbyn to agree to a snap vote during private talks, now that leaving with no deal is not a threat – something that she opposed because it would make Scottish independence less likely. 

The three Unionist parties should make a deal not to stand against one another but I doubt if they will be that sensible. Labour certainly won't.

Downing Street says that if MPs reject the offer of an election, the government will only act where necessary to keep the country ticking over — seemingly unaware that is what Tory administrations are supposed to do anyway.

European Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen said yesterday she would ask Britain to nominate a commissioner if Brexit is delayed. The PM will have to decide whether to comply or try to put the EU in breach of its own legal duty for all EU countries to be represented. Someone suggested he appoint Nigel Farage to the job, but Frau von der Leyen has to agree to all nominations.


The Times has analysed 350,000 words of Boris Johnson Telegraph columns over 15 years and to try to get inside the mind of the man running our country. It finds he refers to himself every 112 words, but does not have any other fixed ideas, though he talks quite a lot about Tony Blair.



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