So Johnson went and did it. He sent the Leader of the House of Commons, currently Jacob Rees-Mogg, to see The Queen and ask for her consent to prorogue Parliament. Once the news had been leaked (see below) all hell broke lose.
Our esteemed MSM, especially TV and radio, filled the airwaves, interviewing Remainers nearly exclusively. It was wall-to-wall, and those not interviewed tweeted as if their lives depended on it.
Their main screech was ‘a coup!’ – as if the government can make a coup against itself. Calls on Twitter went out for a general strike, for, ahem, doing to the Queen what was done to Charles I, and for mass demos that evening. The attendance at those demos was, I am being kind, pathetic.
Voices of reason were there none, not even Sir John Redwood could penetrate the dense Remain outrage in his interviews on SKY and the BBC. It was inevitable that Gina Miller would spearhead the movement to get an injunction in court (here).
It was also inevitable that the plotting MPs who plotted on Tuesday – we wrote about that yesterday – were the most outraged, only topped by the outrage of the Speaker, John Bercow. He was on holidays but so far isn’t planning to come back early, crisis or not. In any case, the Speaker is a bystander when the HoC is in recess.
It’s not news that Mr Bercow is not exactly impartial, as his role demands, but is a Remainer. Therefore I expect he’ll try and facilitate the ‘business’ of the Brexit wreckers come next week. Meanwhile, Jacob Rees-Mogg had this to say in today’s (paywalled) DT:
“There is no constitutional crisis except that caused by those who voted for the referendum, then supported the use of Article 50 and backed the Withdrawal Act. Every one of these had comfortable parliamentary majorities, often backed by those who now cry out that following a plebiscite is undemocratic. This is untrue and unconstitutional. As AV Dicey, arguably the most influential constitutionalist, said, all conventions have “one ultimate object, to secure that Parliament or the Cabinet … shall in the long run give effect to the will … of the nation”.” (paywalled link).
It is therefore also unreasonable to blame both Remainers and Leavers for the prorogation, as James Kirkup does in his comment in RemainCental:
“What is happening to parliament in post-referendum Britain is slower and worse [than a coup]: the gradual erosion of its foundations, not a burst of violence that topples it. And responsibility for this belongs to people on both sides of the Brexit divide. […] The arms race between unbending Remainers and uncompromising Brexiteers has brought us to the brink. The only way back is for everyone to accept an outcome that leaves no one wholly satisfied. In the months of turmoil ahead, pray that no one gets what they want.” (link, paywalled)
Why am I not surprised that a self-confessed Remainer, even if he says he accepts the Referendum Result, overlooks that the ‘Deal’ is none other than the vassalage deal, May’s WA which has been rejected three times by the HoC.
There is no ‘compromise’ possible on that, even should the EU (allegedly rattled by the Prorogation) concede on the Backstop! The indefatigable Sir John Redwood remarks in his Diary this morning:
“Shock horror, we are going to have the same 3 week break for party conferences we have always had. Bigger shock horror, we are going to end the longest Parliamentary session since the civil war, and have a new Queen’s speech as we used to do every year. Worse shock horror, the Remain forces who have dominated the Parliamentary agenda for three years complaining about the result of the referendum will not have many more days to repeat this.” (link)
Parliament is being ‘deprived’ of only four, five or six day of debate. Having just come back from their summer holidays, the last weeks in September and the first ones in October were kept free of HoC business because it’s the Parties’ AGM season. That handful of days is a bit shorter than the time for which Charles I suspended his Parliament in 1628, which was for a cool seven months.
As for ‘depriving the HoC’ of it’s right to debate issues: haven’t they ‘debated’ since 2017? Haven’t they shown all of us that their aim is to stop Brexit? If debates and finding solutions were really so important to them why did they go on those long holidays?
They, as well as Johnson and his government, knew that the crunch date would be the 31st of October. That’s what they voted for in March when they told Ms May to go to Brussels and ask for an extension, was it not! You can read more about the various plotters’ reactions and the lovely screams of outrage in the non-paywalled DM and Express.
Next, I’ll concentrate on one aspect of yesterday’s event which reads like a real-life, troubling spy novel. That is the leak from 10 Downing Street about the Prorogation. The DT has been reconstructing the event:
“On Wednesday night Brexiteers were demanding to know whether a Remain-friendly civil servant in Downing Street or the wider Government had leaked the news to opposition MPs in an act of hostility towards the Prime Minister.” (paywalled link)
That is indeed the question which we would like to see answered! The DT continues, naming those involved:
“Only six Cabinet ministers, together with Mr Johnson, knew of the plans to suspend Parliament for a month, beginning in the second week of September. Together with Mr Johnson’s inner circle of Downing Street advisers, Sajid Javid, the Chancellor, Michael Gove, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and Geoffrey Cox, the Attorney General, had been discussing for weeks the possibility of proroguing Parliament as a means of ensuring MPs could not block a “no deal” Brexit. The plan was so hush-hush that none of the ministers told their staff or junior ministerial colleagues what they were up to, keeping the meetings strictly off-diary.” (paywalled link)
I just learned a new expression: keeping something ‘off-diary’ … as in ‘if it’s not written down it’s not happening’. Here’s the next list of names:
“Dominic Cummings, the Prime Minister’s chief strategist and the former architect of the successful Vote Leave campaign, was, as ever, the spider at the centre of the web, with Sir Edward Lister, Mr Johnson’s chief of staff; Lee Cain, his communications secretary; Nikka da Costa, his constitutional expert, and policy adviser Munira Mirza were understood to be among the handful of other staff in on the secret. “The number of people who knew about this was next to none,” said one Government source. “Most ministers heard about it first via the news on Wednesday morning, and even the ministers who knew about it in advance only told their most senior staff about it on Tuesday night.” (paywalled link)
See that last sentence – ‘the most senior staff’ of ministers involved were told Tuesday night … and then this happened:
“Hours earlier, [before JRM got onto the plane] news of a Privy Council meeting had started to reach the ears of Remain-supporting MPs. One senior SNP figure described getting a phone call at 2am and staying up for the rest of the night to alert as many people as possible. The Scottish MP claimed the leak “came out from No.10”.” (paywalled link)
One doesn’t have to be Hercule Poirot to surmise that someone who was told by his minister on Tuesday night started phoning around, although I find it highly unlikely that only that sole SNP MP was phoned. Were other MPs honourable enough to keep quiet? Be that as it may, we all know what happened next …:
“By 8.30am news had reached Nick Robinson, the presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, who tweeted the rumour that an announcement on prorogation was coming. Just half an hour later, with other journalists getting similar tip-offs, Downing Street was forced to confirm the story was true. A Government source said: “The announcement was supposed to have been in the afternoon, after Jacob and the other ministers had sat down with the Queen. The Prime Minister spoke to the Queen before anything was made public, then he held a 25-minute conference call with the Cabinet to tell them what was happening.” (paywalled link)
This is troubling because even in the Johnson government there obviously must still be hardcore Remainers who would jeopardise their job to stop Brexit. And so yesterday unfolded …
All the screaming and screeching from Remainers does not change the fact that we voted “Leave” and want it implemented. If Remain MPs do go for a VoNC next Tuesday and precipitate a GE then they better be aware of TBP and Farage ante portas.
Meanwhile, I’m clearing the decks for next Tuesday, September 3rd, when the battle in the HoC commences. The clash between Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Speaker and the Remain MPs promises to be epic! Until then –