Battle Over Brexit: Boris Johnson’s Next Move
Sir Ivan Rogers has proven himself an oracle more than once inside the past few years. Great Britain’s 59-year-old former ambassador to the European Union predicted of which Brexit could be a terrible idea for his country long before the ill-fated referendum. He even foresaw Theresa May’s tragic downfall. He also anticipated of which the item could be impossible to negotiate a divorce agreement with the EU in two years’ time of which could pass parliament.
Only no one wanted to listen to him.
On Monday This particular week, the man some people have begun referring to as “Dr. Doom” sits in a German restaurant in London, stares at his coffee in addition to says, “I wish I hadn’t been right.”
Then he offers another prophecy: “I suspect we might have Boris Johnson for ten years, maybe longer.” For the United Kingdom, he says, This particular will be disastrous inside the middle term. “nevertheless who cares about the middle term?”
Ten more years of Johnson? After all the scandals in addition to embarrassments the prime minister has caused in his mere three months in office? After all the resignations in addition to ejections of which have left the berserk, blonde-haired Boris presiding over a virtually unmanageable rump government?
Win-Win for Johnson
the item’s a bold prognosis, nevertheless This particular time Rogers is actually not alone. There is actually a growing number of people in London who believe of which every defeat Johnson has suffered since July, inside the British parliament, in court or during negotiations in Brussels, has only made him stronger. Some argue the item might even have been part of the prime minister’s plan all along to let himself be gagged, encircled in addition to bullied in order to prove his chops as a political escape artist.
Some of Johnson’s people speak of a win-win situation currently of which the Brexit marathon appears to be entering the home stretch. No matter what the next few weeks bring, they say, Boris Johnson will be the winner. of which’s why he’s trying so hard to force brand-new elections.
nevertheless could he definitely win an election?
After a week like the one we just had, the item is actually hard to believe. Sure, Johnson returned — against all expectations — via Brussels This particular week with what he called a “great brand-new deal.” nevertheless when he got back to London, he discovered of which while he had satisfied the pro-Brexit extremists in his Conservative party, he had alienated a majority of the people in every various other political camp.
in addition to so, the week ended with Johnson having to give up on the notion of Oct. 31 being Brexit Day, in addition to having to wait in addition to see how long the EU could postpone the much-awaited withdrawal date This particular time. the item wasn’t long ago of which the Conservative prime minister said he’d “rather be dead in a ditch” than do exactly This particular.
A Distrustful Trickster
Amid all the chaos, the prime minister did have one reason to celebrate: A majority had been achieved in parliament for the 1st time for a Brexit law, with 329 voting for in addition to 299 against. The euphoric headlines of which followed, however, proved premature.
As the item turned out, many of those who voted “Aye” only did so in order to be able to riddle Johnson’s law with supplementary motions in further proceedings.
This particular may seem counterproductive, nevertheless there is actually a method to the madness. the item all comes down to one question: Can Johnson be trusted? Many of his party colleagues have no trouble answering, “Never.” inside the past few weeks alone, there has been ample evidence of This particular. For instance, Johnson asserted of which he had no intention of sending parliament on a forced break — only to do exactly This particular, in addition to unlawfully no less. The 55-year-old promised his de facto coalition partner, the unionist splinter party DUP, of which he could not allow a customs border between Great Britain in addition to Northern Ireland. nevertheless of which’s exactly how he bought his brand-new agreement with the EU.
The closer Oct. 31 gets, the greater the panic is actually inside the House of Commons. Many parliamentarians wonder what they should make of Johnson’s assertion of which he does not intend to leave the EU on Halloween without an agreement.
This particular is actually the one thing most MPs can agree on: They could prefer to avoid a so-called No-Deal Brexit. Nearly all of the procedural tricks in addition to legislative finesse with which parliament outmaneuvered the Johnson government in recent weeks were in pursuit of This particular goal. the item was a matter of depriving the prime minister of any legal opportunity to take the country out of the EU without an agreement currently or inside the future. the item took yet another breathless marathon of meetings, nevertheless of which goal has been achieved for currently.
Consequently, Johnson’s options have shrunk to a minimum. The man who once proclaimed a glorious future for the UK with colorful hyperbole currently seems thin-skinned in addition to discontented. He has lost the first battle over the deal he brought back via Brussels. The real battle, however, is actually yet to come.
Taking Back Control
brand-new elections seem more in addition to more like a foregone conclusion, in addition to Johnson is actually well positioned, not only because, according to Ivan Rogers, “the item’s much easier for him to campaign than govern.”
On Thursday evening, Johnson announced of which he could Yet again try in addition to muscle his divorce agreement with Brussels through Britain’s lower house. If he’s successful, he could present himself on the campaign trail ahead of brand-new elections as the man who led his country to long-awaited freedom.
The fact of which This particular freedom could cost the British economy many billions of pounds seems to be of no consequence for the many UK citizens who are drunk on the prospect of leaving the EU. Johnson could be the man who, as the old referendum slogan went, helped his country “take back control.”
the item could be the sweetest victory for Johnson, who in his biography of Winston Churchill raved about how one particular man determined the fate of an entire nation. in addition to This particular is actually exactly what his opponents in parliament are trying to prevent.
due to This particular reason, the prime minister has been preparing for weeks for the contingency of which he may have to hit the campaign trail without an agreement. If he had his way, an election could happen before Christmas, maybe even as early as Dec. 12. Whatever the date, of which’s when Johnson intends to finally change the makeup of the House of Commons to his advantage.
What Doesn’t Hurt Him Makes Him Stronger
Johnson had already announced on Tuesday inside the House of Commons of which the dispute could ultimately have to be decided by British voters. In his words, they are “our masters, the people.”
Until recently, the strategists at 10 Downing Street had regarded This particular outcome as political suicide. They feared hitting the campaign trail inside the middle of an unresolved Brexit dispute, which has a man who had not kept his central promise, could only lead to disaster.
nevertheless their efforts to make Johnson seem like the one, true man of the people appear to be paying off. Polls indicate of which Johnson’s Tories have a 15-percent lead over the Labour Party. The unprecedented series of defeats in parliament, the condemnation by the Supreme Court, the lies in addition to half-truths of the Brexit negotiations, the unresolved allegation of which Johnson protected an alleged former lover with taxpayer money — none of the item has harmed the prime minister. On the contrary.
Downing Street is actually apparently right to believe of which no normal person can be bothered to understand everything of which has gone on behind the scenes inside the three-in addition to-a-half-year-long battle of attrition in parliament. Tuesday of This particular week provided a Great example: The House of Commons refused to rush Johnson’s Brexit law through. The government had allocated only three days for its consideration — less time than was once granted to decide on a law regulating wild animals in traveling circuses. The MPs were unwilling to play along.
Johnson is actually apparently hoping of which the average voter will think of which a body of EU-loving representatives had yet again obstructed the path to independence for the British people.
Months ago, he accused members of parliament of being “collaborators” with Brussels. He called a law with which the House of Commons wanted to prevent a No-Deal Brexit a “surrender law.” Since then, MPs have received death threats in addition to various other intimidating remarks via people who directly quote Johnson’s words. He didn’t even try in addition to restrain his most bellicose acolytes when they denounced Britain’s Supreme Court judges as willing accomplices of the EU.
A Precarious Situation
People like Michael Heseltine, an old fixture of the Conservative Party who fell out of its graces, believes of which via Johnson’s “day one in office, a Brexit general election was the strategy.” currently, Heseltine says, the prime minister’s strategy is actually to manipulate people which has a fear of criminals in addition to anger at his political opponents.
“Parliament, the elite, them against you, the people.” of which will be Johnson’s campaign message, Heseltine believes. in addition to large sections of the British press will, as always, stand by as uncritical cheerleaders.
Johnson’s only problem is actually of which he’s not going to get his brand-new elections without a fight. So long as he doesn’t want to resign or risk a tricky legislative manoeuver, he’ll need a two-thirds majority in parliament — therefore the approval of Labour MPs in addition to their leader, Jeremy Corbyn. Johnson already failed twice in his attempt to force brand-new parliamentary elections; both times, Labour denied him his wish.
Corbyn’s party is actually divided. Many Labour MPs are afraid of which their own unclear stance on Brexit, in addition to Johnson’s machinations, could result in a devastating defeat for their party. Labour lawmakers all the way up to the party’s leadership are arguing they should simply let Johnson in addition to his rump government go on with business as usual until a second Brexit referendum becomes inevitable. Around a million people recently took to the streets in London to demand such a vote.
For Corbyn, the situation is actually precarious. How long can an opposition leader justify not wanting brand-new elections inside the face of an annoyed in addition to fed-up public?
Should Labour ultimately agree to brand-new elections, the crucial question for Boris Johnson will be: How can he keep Nigel Farage, the high priest of EU-haters, in check? The head of the Brexit Party already said last week of which Johnson’s deal was “not Brexit.” inside the Daily Telegraph, long supportive of Johnson, Farage laid out his reasoning in a two-page advertisement spread. The recent postponement of Britain’s departure via the EU will boost Farage’s political following, which had seemed to be weakening lately.
A ‘Relabeled Brexit Party’
Farage, who has significantly contributed to the division of British society, will do everything in his power to make Johnson look like a cheap knockoff of himself — like someone who talks the Brexit talk, nevertheless who has walked away via pure “Leave” doctrine.
If the Brexit Party achieves a double-digit result inside the next election, Johnson’s dream of an absolute majority could be shattered — in addition to with the item, his wish of pushing his preferred type of Brexit through British parliament. Even for the prime minister, brand-new elections could come with inherent risks.
The course is actually set for an election campaign like the once-so-unideological Britons have never seen. The Tories are already little more than a “Brexit Party rebranded,” says Ken Clarke, a Johnson critic in addition to another excommunicated, old-school Conservative. in addition to hardly anyone will be able to prevent Johnson via moving the party further to the right.
The prime minister has linked his fate to Brexit, in addition to he has already gone too far to stop. He doesn’t seem to care who or what he destroys along the way.
Meanwhile, Ivan Rogers, the ex-diplomat, sincerely hopes of which he’s wrong, at least This particular time. “We are in deep shit,” he says rather undiplomatically. “the item’s only going to get worse via here.”