It’s ‘crunch time’, or rather: it’s ‘Super Saturday’ and our MPs, Leavers and Remain Harlots alike, have to come in to ‘work’. The MSM are full of ‘number-crunching’ articles and reports on who supports Johnson’s Deal, inside and outside the HoC. That is a fascinating issue in itself, and we’ll pay attention to it further down. You’ll find non-paywalled reports here while here is a general one.
First though let’s look at the time table for today’s proceedings which The Times has kindly published so we can plan our day:
“9.30am Boris Johnson makes a statement to MPs urging them to back his deal. He will then face questions.
11am At about this time the Speaker will reveal his chosen amendments. Among them is expected to be one by Sir Oliver Letwin.
2.30pm Voting is due to start by this time. MPs will vote on the amendments first and it could be early evening before they go into the division lobbies for the meaningful vote. If the government loses it will put forward a motion seeking backing for no-deal.” (link, paywalled)
How and when Johnson might put forward that No Deal motion isn’t explained and thus remains shrouded in mystery. Next are “The Scenarios”, and you might like to bookmark this site, Parliament’s live TV channel, so you can watch for blood on the floor.
We have the Johnson ‘My Deal or no Brexit’ motion and we have the Letwin amendment which is, btw, not the one the HoC voted for on Thursday. That Letwin amendment was meant to allow MPs to post amendments to the Single Motion put by Johnson for today’s session. This latest Letwin motion is a new one:
“The former Tory MP Sir Oliver Letwin has tabled an amendment that aims to prevent the so-called Spartan Brexiteers from supporting today’s meaningful vote in the House of Commons, only to later reject the legislation that would put it into effect. This matters because under the terms of the Benn act, if the meaningful vote is passed there is nothing in law to compel Boris Johnson to ask for an extension preventing a no-deal Brexit. Sir Oliver fears this loophole may lead to a default no-deal Brexit.” (link, paywalled)
Now it’s going to become very arcane and speculative but we need to get our little grey cells around it. If both Letwin’s amendment and Johnson’s Bill pass, then:
“Mr Johnson is obliged to ask for an extension but can also lay the legislation in the Commons that would put it into effect on Monday. Jeremy Corbyn […] might also table a vote of no confidence in the government.” (link, paywalled)
Aaand – we’ll be back in the same old Remain harlotry mess! If Johnson’s ‘Deal’ fails, regardless of the Letwin amendment failing or not, he has to ask for an extension which the EU may well grant in spite of the noises made by Juncker and others.
That means – back to the same old EU negotiating mess and, yes, no Brexit and the same harlotry mess in the HoC. Mind you – Corbyn has said repeatedly that he’ll go for a VoNC and a GE, definitely, once Johnson has written that begging letter. That sets the scene for a GE, the outcome of which might not be what Corbyn hopes for.
Finally, if that Letwin amendment fails but the Johnson ‘My deal’ motion passes:
“Mr Johnson tables the legislation to implement the EU withdrawal as soon as Monday. The threat of a Brexit extension disappears and he theoretically has the majority needed to pass the legislation through the Commons.” (link, paywalled)
Phew. As I understand the whole thing – I’m not a constitutional lawyer – this means that Parliament, by agreeing to Johnson’s motion today while rejecting the Letwin amendment, would give him the go-ahead to table the legislation which fixes Brexit on the 31st of October into Law.
If both motions pass, then the HoC can withhold agreement to “The Deal” until every single act necessary to fix our Withdrawal has been passed, with the opportunity for more and more amendments to be inserted. That means that thanks to the Remain Harlots we’d not only still be ‘In’ on Halloween, a 2nd Referendum might also be forced on us.
This is where the horse-trading and arm-twisting comes in, breathlessly reported in the MSM:
“The Prime Minister spent Friday personally calling MPs to plead for their votes […] Conservative whips are now counting on the support of 284 Tory MPs, 11 Labour MPs, 17 former Tories who have lost the whip and eight independent MPs, which would mean they needed just one more MP to back the deal for it to pass. Among the promises being made to Labour MPs to win their support was a commitment that Brexit legislation due to be debated next week will contain increased protection of workers’ rights and environmental standards in domestic law, a key concern for Labour.” (paywalled link)
The focus was mainly on winning over the ‘hard-core’ ERG members who are meeting this morning at 8.30am to decide their vote. The whole thing makes fascinating reading:
“Steve Baker, the ERG chairman, gave his early cautious approval of the deal, but Mr Francois appeared to be having doubts before a 1pm meeting with the Prime Minister in Downing Street. […] On Friday night he said he would back Mr Johnson’s deal, according to Sky News. […] Mr Bone, a hardliner who is not a member of the ERG, met Mr Johnson in Downing Street last night, one of many invited to personally discuss their concerns. Influential figures like former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith and Owen Paterson, the former Northern Ireland secretary, are also set to vote for it despite initial reservations. Sir Bill Cash […] was given a special briefing on the detail by Government lawyers. A source close to him suggested he too would support it although his similarly longstanding colleague John Redwood was having “to be talked down from the ceiling” over the deal. (paywalled link)
I’m not surprised, having read Sir John Redwood’s Diary entry yesterday! In his Diary today he doesn’t give a clue as to which way he’ll vote, but instead writes intriguingly about ‘Fair Acts of Parliament’ – worth a read, as always.
Meanwhile, the ‘Undecided’ will have read about support for Johnson’s Deal coming from an unexpected side:
“Some of Britain’s most powerful business leaders have urged Parliament to back Mr Johnson’s deal. Among the firms giving their support to the deal in response to a letter from the Prime Minister were Barclays Bank, insurer Prudential, defence firm BAE Systems, drinks giant Diageo and the law firm Linklaters.” (paywalled link)
Even more astonishing is the support, all of a sudden, from Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England:
“Britain would receive an economic boost if MPs pass the government’s Brexit deal as companies release billions of pounds of pent-up investment spending, Mark Carney has said. [He] said the draft deal was “good news” as it included a transition period that would let the economy adjust and remove uncertainty that has been stalling growth. The Bank believes that business investment is 25 per cent lower than it would have been without Brexit uncertainty.” (link, paywalled)
He carefully overlooks the fact that it was of course Remain, fuelled by his own Project Fear scenarios, which prevented an early, proper Brexit and thus created the ‘Brexit uncertainty’ in the first place.
The former chancellor Mr Hammond also had to raise his voice, in a perfect example of ‘projection’: moving the goalposts to the end of that Transition Period himself while accusing the government of doing so:
“Philip Hammond has warned Boris Johnson that he will vote against his Brexit agreement unless he can prove he is not trying to “dupe” MPs into backing no-deal. Mr Hammond suggested that he would vote against the Brexit deal unless the government demonstrated it would not use the transition period to run down the clock and leave without an agreement in December next year.“I haven’t come this far seeking to avoid no-deal in 2019 to be duped into voting for a heavily camouflaged no-deal at the end of 2020,” he said.” (link, paywalled)
So there we are: all set for the showdown at the Westminster Corral. It’ll either be sweet and short or long and bloody. If you’re getting bored, you can always watch the RWC quarter final match between England and Australia this morning. But whatever you do:
Photo by Kerri Lee Smith