Despite Brexit and of course despite the weather, we had the pomp and circumstance of the Opening of Parliament with the Queen’s Speech yesterday. Personally, I enjoyed seeing the Household Cavalry and Foot Guards lining the streets. No XR theatricals to be seen …
Inside Parliament, the Lords were coughing their lungs out while the commoners – that’s the MPs – were standing respectfully at the Bar after having been called by Black Rod. After the speech, once her Majesty had left, both Lords and Commoners erupted noisily like a horde of unruly children who’ve had to sit quietly for too long.
The content of the speech will be debated in the HoC for the next six days and then voted on. Given that Johnson has no majority, it will be voted down – watch Jacob Rees-Mogg’s quip here – but Johnson will not resign (here, paywalled here). This is where the FTPA comes into play:
“Traditionally, the failure to get a Queen’s Speech through Parliament is a sign the Government no longer commands the support of the Commons, and a change of administration is needed. That convention has now been superseded by the 2011 Fixed Term Parliaments Act, which makes it harder to bring in a change of government or trigger a general election.” (paywalled link)
Corbyn has of course refused repeatedly to call a VoNC and a GE until after Johnson has handed in that Begging Letter asking for an extension. With Labour’s McDonnell now actively engaging in ousting Corbyn’s top advisors (here, paywalled), Labour is in disarray as much as the Tories.
In fact, I do wonder how Labour will fight a GE when I see this (paywalled) headline in the DT: “Jeremy Corbyn’s closest aide warned he is next ‘on the list’ amid claims John McDonnell is plotting a ‘Soviet’ style purge”. Mr McDonnell wants to turn Labour into ‘The Remain Party’ – is he feeling the hot breath of Ms Swinson of the IlLibUndems on his neck? This internecine strife is important as it impinges on Brexit:
“Labour insiders have told The Telegraph there are now growing calls for Seumas Milne, the former Guardian journalist, to be removed as Mr Corbyn’s director of communications. […] It emerged that more than 30 members of Mr Corbyn’s staff have been asked to attend meetings as part of a review into the “management structures” in the Leader’s office. The review, which is being led by Lord Kerslake, a long-term ally of John McDonnell, has led to accusations that the shadow chancellor is attempting to push out key aides in an alleged “power grab”. (link, paywalled)
I did like this next bit – Johnson wit and general hilarity to the fore:
“The controversy was on Monday seized upon by Boris Johnson, who likened Mr McDonnell to Vladimir Lenin and his clashes with Leon Trotsky in the run up to the Russian Revolution. Speaking in the Commons, the Prime Minister said: “We can all see the Soviet era expulsions that are taking place in his [Mr Corbyn’s] circle, as one-by-one his lieutenants are purged as Lenin purged the associates of poor old Trotsky. Pointing to the shadow chancellor in the Commons, he added: “There is Lenin…as the shadow chancellor tightens his icy grip on the Labour Party.” (link, paywalled)
These are the people who want to scupper Brexit and get into No 10! So what about Brexit then? Well – it looks as if there’s a tiny silver lining on the EU horizon:
“Sources in Brussels and London told The Daily Telegraph there was “cautious optimism” that a narrow path to a deal could now be appearing – a marked shift in tone from the downbeat assessment from the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier on Sunday. […] It came as Ireland’s foreign minister suggested negotiations could carry on beyond this week’s summit of EU leaders, following reports that an emergency summit could be called to ratify an eleventh-hour deal close to the Oct 31 deadline.” (paywalled link)
Both RemainCentral and the resident Remain editor of the DT, with all their gloomy cautions, felt the need to report, with gritted teeth, on that development. The Times reports:
“With only days to go before Thursday’s summit of EU leaders the two sides were said to be working on a plan that could accommodate both camps’ red lines on customs arrangements for the island of Ireland. […] EU commission sources suggested that even if a deal was not possible on Thursday both sides were “serious about wanting a deal — preferably now”, although next week was also a possibility. This would require an additional Council meeting to sign off on any new agreement.” (link, paywalled)
Why is it that the EU is incapable of making a decision unless it’s literally five minutes to midnight? Are they now planning to stop the calendar, not just their clocks, to get this done? Peter Foster, Remain editor of the DT, has extensive ‘sources’ in Brussels, thus he’s able to be specific:
“The details are ultra-technical, but broadly there are two positions on how Mr Johnson should turn his concession that customs checks won’t take place on the island of Ireland into what EU negotiators call an “operable” solution. The EU has argued that there should be a full customs border in the Irish Sea. The UK has resisted this logic since it divides the UK’s own union and internal market and therefore will not be supported by both the DUP and, by extension, the clean-break Brexiteers who are needed to pass a deal through Westminster.” (paywalled link)
Foster briefly describes the Johnson proposal, adding why the EU – so far – has been resistant:
“The UK suggestion, taking into account DUP demands that Northern Ireland remains in the customs territory of the UK, is therefore very different and much more complex to administer. It wants a “dual customs” territory regime, […] with different rules and tariffs applying depending on whether a good is heading for the province or the EU. The EU has been resistant to this scheme, arguing that it is so unique it could not be guaranteed to work and posed a risk of both creating a back door into the EU single market and providing an unfair advantage to Northern Irish businesses.” (paywalled link)
Hasn’t this been the background music of the Brexit negotiations, in the EU and here at home, all along: ‘it’s too difficult so we don’t really want to do it – let’s call the whole thing off’.
We’ll not forget, ever, that Brexit has been made ‘too difficult’ by the Remainers in High Office, from the PM and her Chancellor to the Whitehall civil serpents, and the hardcore Remainers on the government benches. You know who they are! Predictably these Tory Remain Harlots are still working hard on stopping Brexit. Here’s their latest plot:
“However, 21 former Tory MPs are concerned that even if Mr Johnson succeeds in getting his deal through the Commons there may not be enough time to ratify legislation required to implement it before October 31. There are also fears that Brexiteer “Spartans” of the ERG could vote in favour of Mr Johnson’s deal at a meaningful vote but then withdraw their support for the legislation to implement it in an effort to force through a no-deal Brexit. The Benn act, which forces the prime minister to request an extension of the Article 50 process, will cease to take effect if MPs vote for the prime minister’s Brexit deal on Saturday.” (link, paywalled)
Note firstly the inevitable swipe at the ERG: pure projection by the Tory Harlots who are now arguing that they are trying to rescue the government from ‘The Spartan’s! Also note that last sentence – is this the way Johnson and JRM are going to abolish the Benn Surrender Act? Here are the technical details, straight from the Harlots’ mouths:
“The former Tory MPs are planning make the vote on Mr Johnson’s deal “conditional” on the legislation needed to implement it coming into force. As a result, Mr Johnson may still be forced to request an extension. […] “We will find a way of adjusting the [meaningful vote] motion, just in case, to make sure that Benn act is still operational.” Another of the former Tories said: “The idea is not the prevent the prime minister’s deal from getting through but to prevent the ERG from playing silly buggers.” (link, paywalled)
There you have it: because the ERG ‘might’ do something, the Johnson deal must be scuppered somehow. On top of that there’s this:
“Remain MPs are planning to try to force through a vote on a second referendum in a move that could lead to a mass rebellion by Labour MPs and members of the shadow cabinet. They are drawing up plans to attach a confirmatory vote to any deal that is secured.” (link, paywalled)
For the next few days, the HoC peacocks will be gainfully employed debating the Queen’s speech while the EU negotiations are ongoing, and the Remain plotters will keep plotting.
Saturday will indeed be the ‘crunch day’, so clear the decks for a long day watching the performance in the HoC and, as nothing is yet certain, tell your MPs that you’re watching, that their job depends on how they vote on Saturday!