Never have we had such uncertainty surrounding our Government and Parliament, so much so that we literally have very little idea what is going to happen.
Boris Johnson has said many times that we will leave the EU on 31st October whatever happens, with or without an Agreement. Yet how can he possibly pull it off?
When he took office as our Prime Minister on 24th July, there were just over three months until the exit date; creating a new Withdrawal Agreement document of any kind therefore seemed an impossibility in terms of expecting the EU to agree it, since the draft deal (or new European Treaty) they agreed with Theresa May had been three years in the making and was 585 pages long. Yet Boris was clear when he first became PM that his ‘highest priority’ was to get a deal.
Boris Johnson presented his plan to the EU for what would presumably be an amended Withdrawal Agreement with the removal of the backstop, but it was always unlikely they would agree any changes to a document that has effectively been printed, bound and given to the other 27 Member States.
Yet there is now talk of some compromise after the Prime Minister held a meeting with Leo Varadkar – but details have not been given and once again the public is in the dark.
At the moment it is hard to envisage any Agreement being signed off by 31st October and no one can figure out what Boris Johnson can do, as he has stated he would prefer not to leave the EU without one.
He has not had a great deal of luck since becoming Prime Minister two and a half months ago, losing eight votes in Parliament and with the Supreme Court stating it was unlawful to prorogue Parliament in September. It was not clear to me why he prorogued it at that time. It is also not clear why he wants to have a Queen’s Speech next week, before a General Election, as events could conspire to make his premiership rather shorter than expected.
He then has the problem of the Benn Act, which was created to remove the possibility of leaving with No Deal (or rather a clean break Brexit) and also insists that he must ask for a further extension past 31st October, rather alarmingly giving the option of the length of time to be decided by the EU.
However, EU law takes precedence over UK law and Article 50 is EU law. Article 50 states that we leave on 31st October with or without a deal. This might be Boris’s one chance at getting us out, because Article 50 trumps the Benn Act, which is UK law.
We have now heard that Parliament is sitting next Saturday, 19th October, straight after the European Council meeting, and there is talk of demands for a vote to take place for a second referendum, although Jeremy Corbyn has stated that he might prefer a general election first and we must hope that he gets his party to agree this. He has in fact been calling for an election for some time, although he turned it down twice when it was offered recently, perhaps on account of realising that he may not win.
The ongoing problem for the Brexiteers and for Boris Johnson is that we are dealing with a Remain Parliament which will predominantly be in favour of keeping us in the European Union. We have seen more than enough prominent Remainers trotting off to visit Michel Barnier in the past three years.
Therefore a general election is surely far preferable for Brexiteers, who would win it if the Conservatives agreed to what Brexit Party Leader Nigel Farage calls a ‘non-aggression pact’: the Brexit Party would go for the Labour seats and let the Conservatives keep their own Brexiteer seats. The Brexit Party currently has a full slate of prospective parliamentary candidates ready to stand for every seat in the country if necessary.
This would result in a Brexit Parliament which would mean the Benn Act could be immediately repealed, as Parliament cannot bind its successors; and since any extension date that might have been agreed with the EU is a final deadline, after a General Election we would not have to wait until that day to leave as a Brexit Parliament could simply and swiftly pass the required legislation. We would finally be out!
I personally would favour a general election after 31st October, if our Prime Minister is unable to get us out of the EU on that date, and then see a Brexit Party/Conservative government of Leavers. I believe this is the only way we are going to be able to leave the European Union.
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