Although the results of the Tory leadership contest won’t be declared until next week, Boris Johnson looks set to win the ballot in the race to fill Mrs May’s boots in Downing Street. Johnson says his first act as Prime Minister will be to press forward on Brexit. The Conservative front-runner insists that he would ensure Brexit happens “come what may” by the autumn deadline and he’s vowed to take Britain out of the European Union (EU) by 31st October “do or die”.
But there’s no majority in the House of Commons for a ‘no-deal’ Brexit. Nor is there a majority for any other option on the EU in this fractious parliament. The unofficial factions in the Commons that regularly defy the wishes of their own leaders on both sides of the House cannot agree on Brexit nor, indeed, anything else at the moment. This is what brought Theresa May down in the first place. What chance has Johnson of succeeding in pushing Brexit through when others have failed over the last two years?
The Johnson team tell us that whilst Boris likes to play the fool a shrewd intelligence lies behind his oafish persona. His latest wheeze is to threaten to suspend parliament in order to force through Brexit against the will of MPs. Although the prime minister could ‘prorogue’ parliament to prevent MPs from blocking a ‘no deal’ Brexit, it would plunge the country into a constitutional crisis.
The Speaker of the House, John Bercow, has stated that he will not permit Parliament to be prorogued in such a way. Prorogation is, however, the gift of the monarch, who acts on the advice of the Prime Minister, not the Speaker. Refusing the advice of the sitting premier challenges one aspect of the sovereignty of the Westminster parliament whereas ignoring the views of the Speaker challenges another.
Former Tory prime minister John Major threatens to seek a judicial review to stop any arbitrary suspension of parliament and wilder Remainer politicians say that if prorogued they would meet in another place, such as Central Hall Westminster, for a ‘Rump’ session to block Brexit.
What the Johnson government will actually do remains to be seen – but Johnson would be playing into the Remainers’ hands if the Brexit issue is subsumed into a crisis over Parliamentary authority. Johnson knows the only way out of the impasse is another general election and he clearly hopes to side-line the Brexit Party by totally embracing their ‘no-deal’ departure demands.
We have no problem with a ‘no-deal’ Brexit. That’s what the people voted for in the 2016 referendum and that’s what we want. The problem is that the Tories cannot deliver it.
Meanwhile, the Remainers within the labour movement are on the march. The Blairite majority of Labour MPs have always supported membership of the EU. Now the Europhile leaders of most of our trade unions are moving to push the Corbyn leadership to follow suit.
In June the Labour Representation Committee (LRC) that largely reflects the thinking of the Corbyn leadership rejected Brexit under the slogan of “Remain and Rebel”, which is just a variation of the “Another Europe is Possible” drivel that third-rate left social-democrats in Greece, Germany and France use to justify their treachery.
For us the issue is clear. We want a general election now to get Labour in and the Tories out. We want Labour to stand by the people’s vote to leave the EU without any ifs or buts. And the surest guarantee of Brexit is a massive majority for Labour at the next election.