A real Backstop at sunset – but who are the dogs?
First the ‘good’ news: the Supreme Court decision is expected early next week, so we can have a good weekend, chewing our fingernails while we wait. How yesterday’s session unfolded will be described below.
“In an interview with Sky News, Mr Juncker, president of the European Commission, confirmed that the EU was prepared to drop its insistence on the current backstop if new arrangements could be agreed, adding that he did not have an “erotic relationship” with the backstop. “I had a meeting with Boris Johnson that was rather positive,” Mr Juncker said. “I think we can have a deal. I am doing everything to have a deal because I don’t like the idea of a no-deal because I think this would have catastrophic consequences for at least one year.” (link, paywalled).
An ‘erotic relationship’ with the Backstop? Dearie me! However, the announcement about the Backstop is also remarkable because, contradicting what our ‘dear friends’ in the EU keep telling our equally dear MSM Brussels correspondents, it’s based on our negotiators actually having presented papers to the EU:
“In an attempt to begin bridging differences between the two sides, three papers were sent to the European Commission outlining Britain’s draft plans to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland. The first outlined Downing Street’s offer to create a single all-Ireland food and agricultural zone with checks on produce at ports on the Irish Sea. In the second plans were outlined for a surveillance system to prevent goods entering EU markets that did not comply with European standards. The final paper gave British proposals for “alternative arrangements” for customs checks away from the Irish border, which have long been proposed by the prime minister. This would require that the EU accept a customs tariff border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland but without any physical infrastructure on the actual border.” (link, paywalled)
Further negotiations are to take place during the UN meeting next week:
“There are growing signs that the details of a deal could be hammered out when the Prime Minister meets EU leaders at the UN General Assembly in New York next week, which will be attended by Arlene Foster, the DUP leader. Leo Varadkar, the Irish Taoiseach, said he would be meeting Mr Johnson in New York “to try to get a deal”, […]” (paywalled link)
But beware, and don’t get the champagne out just yet. See the following, and ask yourselves why it is appropriate for opposition MPs to talk with M “Non” Barnier before the Brexit Secretary has a chance of doing so:
“Mr Barclay’s department said he will meet with Mr Barnier to “take stock” following discussions between the PM’s Europe adviser David Frost and Taskforce 50 – the EU unit dealing with the UK’s departure. A day earlier, Mr Barnier spoke with Labour MPs Caroline Flint and Mr Kinnock, who are key in cross-party efforts to get a deal through Parliament. […] Stephen Kinnock, the Labour MP, said on a visit to Brussels that up to 30 of his colleagues were prepared to rebel against Jeremy Corbyn and back an agreement negotiated by Mr Johnson. […] Mr Kinnock told BBC’s Newsnight that they left feeling “relatively, cautiously optimistic” after the Brussels meeting because of mounting pressure on the PM.” (paywalled link)
It certainly makes sense now that Johnson’s EU negotiators are taking all their papers back home as reported yesterday! Having them leaked to ‘Brussels correspondents’ is one thing. Having them leaked to opposition politicians – and they would’ve been leaked – is quite another kettle of fish!
While the Remain, ahem, ‘Brussels’ correspondents keep declaring that it’s all very very complicated, the resident Arch Remainer of the DT, Peter Foster, writes under the headline “Why it would be political suicide for Irish PM Leo Varadkar to back down on the backstop” (paywalled link) as if it’s the duty of our country to ‘save’ the Taoiseach. Funny how Remainers keep on about our Brexit negotiators having to compromise, but never expect the same from the EU or indeed Ireland.
So that’s the state of play this morning: EU negotiations are ongoing while Johnson and his government are waiting for the judgement, as are we all.
The MSM have homed in on one possibility: if the Courts decide the Prorogation was unlawful, the Speaker, not the PM, could recall Parliament next week. Paywalled reports are here and here, and here’s a non-paywalled one. I’m certain Mr Bercow is already popping the champagne corks – en coulisse, naturally…:
“[Lord Pannick QC] said that Mr Bercow, the Speaker of the Commons, and Lord Fowler, the Lord Speaker, could bypass Downing Street and recall parliament on the basis of the court’s recommendation. Mr Bercow declined to comment […]” (link, paywalled)
You’ll not have failed to notice that this is a premature jubilation by the Remainers, in the hope that it might convince the Judges to declare the Prorogation unlawful because a recall wouldn’t be difficult to achieve – for the sake of stopping Brexit. Here’s a good summary at the end of day three:
“After three days of top legal minds arguing before the country’s most senior judges, we have learnt what the fundamental question is, which the Supreme Court will be asked to answer. Namely, are the mechanisms and the reasons for the suspension of parliament “justiciable”? In other words, is the prorogation process governed by law — in which case the judges can rule on it — or by constitutional convention, in which case they can’t? If the court decides the latter, in agreement with the High Court in London, it will be fizz all round in Downing Street. If it takes the former view, as did the highest court in Scotland, the judges must move on to two other questions.” (link, paywalled)
These questions, in a nutshell, are:
“First, is the whole debate academic? […] If MPs were recalled, what could they do that they have not already done, or had an opportunity to do, during nearly three years of debating Brexit? Second, if the issues are justiciable and not academic, was the prime minister’s prorogation unlawful? While five weeks is longer than normal, was it unreasonable? And even if it was done to stymie parliamentary debate, is that a breach of the common law?” (link, paywalled)
We’ll have to wait and see if and how the Judges address those questions. To round off our ‘Court Report’, here’s the unmissable, incomparable Sir John Redwood, with a few choice and scathing observations in his Diary this morning:
“Oppositions usually accept the government’s right to govern, […]. Her Majesty’s loyal Opposition does not usually do deals with opponents of our nation, does not undermine the government in an international organisation and does not bad mouth the UK when representing us abroad. […] When opposition forces in Parliament say they do not trust the government to conduct the negotiation they do our country harm. Parliament has the power to remove the government if it really does lack confidence in it to negotiate well. It is a clear case of put up or shut up – either sack the government or allow it to conduct the negotiation as it wishes, with Parliament judging the results.”
What a fitting comment on the unsavoury spectacle of Remain MPs, be they Tory or Labour, to take over the role of government while declining to take responsibility for their actions by refusing to go to the country in a GE!
It reinforces what we know about Remain: contempt for us voters, contempt for Parliamentary procedures and a vainglorious desire to get Remain while washing their hands in pretend innocence.
Looking into my crystal ball, I predict that, having learned from the ‘masters’, i.e. the EU and Mr “Non” Barnier, Remain MPs will vote down whatever Johnson presents in the way of ‘A Deal’, regardless of its content – which we Leavers may also want to reject.
This Remain harlotry show, inside the Supreme Court and inside the HoC as well as in the MSM has only one goal: stop Brexit. Keep that in mind in the coming days of the Party Conferences and let’s not get sidetracked or bamboozled. As always –
Photo by Steve Guttman NYC