How amazing! Yesterday there were no Brexit news items to speak of – but today there are two – well, one is actually ‘constitutional news’ but still Brexit related. Let’s take a look at that one first. Here’s a non-paywalled report, and here it’s according to RemainCentral:
“Boris Johnson would refuse to resign even after losing a confidence vote so he could force through a no-deal Brexit on October 31, under plans being considered by Downing Street. Dominic Cummings, the prime minister’s most senior aide, told colleagues last week that Mr Johnson would not quit if Tory Remainers voted with Labour to bring down the government. The Times has been told that Mr Johnson could stay on as prime minister even if Tory MPs were able to form a “government of national unity” opposed to a no-deal Brexit. Mr Johnson would ignore the result of the confidence vote and call a “people v politicians” general election to be held shortly after Britain had left the EU.” (link, paywalled)
Remainers have been talking about a Vote of No Confidence’ (VoNC) as one of the ways of stopping us leaving on the 31st of October. The usual suspects are involved, as you’d expect:
“John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, said yesterday it was “almost inevitable” that Labour would table a confidence motion next month. Dominic Grieve, a leading Tory Remainer and former attorney-general, said […]:“The prime minister who has been defeated on a confidence motion has a duty to facilitate that process, not obstruct it, […] It would be utterly extraordinary for a prime minister to refuse to leave office when he has lost a vote of confidence and there is an alternative individual available [and] able to form an administration.” (link, paywalled)
It is a delicate (I nearly wrote ‘delicious’) situation for Remainers:
“Constitutional experts confirmed yesterday that Mr Johnson would technically be under no legal obligation to quit if he lost a confidence vote. […] Catherine Haddon, a senior fellow at the Institute for Government think tank, said that, technically, under the Fixed-term Parliament Act, the prime minister was not required to resign upon losing a vote of confidence. “In terms of a strict reading of the legislation, Boris is not required to resign. It is completely silent on all of this, […] We would have a clash between a technical reading of the legislation and constitutional norms.” (link, paywalled)
These points are explained in an analysis in The Times – useful when trying to navigating the stormy waters of Remain outcries. It works like this if a VoNC is called by Labour and Remain Tories:
“If MPs pass a motion of no-confidence in Mr Johnson’s government, there is a 14-day period for the Commons to pass a motion of confidence in an alternative government, or in Mr Johnson. If they do not do so, there must be a general election – and the prime minister is responsible for setting the date. Even if Mr Johnson lost a vote in the first week of September he could simply set the election for the first week of November to try to ensure that his “do or die” pledge is met.” (link, paywalled)
Leaving aside all the speculations of what the Remain HoC might get up to, never mind if they could achieve it, this is the juicy bit:
“With Commons arithmetic as it is, any government which might pass a confidence vote in that two-week period would likely have to be a cross-party government of national unity formed with the sole purpose of delaying Brexit. Even setting aside the difficulties getting Labour, the Liberal Democrats and some Conservatives to agree on how it would work and who would be prime minister, Mr Johnson’s aides believe they could thwart it by simply not advising the Queen to send for the proposed new prime minister and instead holding a general election, ideally after October 31. On a strict reading of the rules, Mr Johnson would not be required to resign. It is up to him whether he follows what is thought to be the convention.” (link, paywalled)
Do we detect the fine constitutional hand of the Leader of the HoC in this? Anyway, that’s why Mr Cummings reportedly laughed when asked about a GE before Halloween. Oh, he is also reported to have taken swipes at Mr Hammond, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer and Mr Clark, saying that he’d deliberately blocked No Deal plans:
“Mr Cummings told a meeting of government aides: “It’s clear as we look at the process for no-deal planning that in all sorts of ways the previous government did not take this seriously. Lots of ministers, clearly like Greg Clark and Hammond, hadn’t. Precisely because they did not want to — they did not want the country to be ready for no-deal for political purposes. Therefore [they] neglected all sorts of things.” (link, paywalled)
Friends and allies of Hammond and Clark predictably howled – but we peasants who’ve been watching them know full well that, certainly in this instance, Mr Cummings is correct.
Speaking of Hammond, the purveyor of many of the “Project Fear” data, I enjoyed reading that it’s now the Taoiseach and Ireland who are getting a dose of their own ‘Project Fear’:
“A report revealed today warned Ireland faces the prospect of devastating economic downturn, civil unrest and a hike in its EU membership fees if Britain leaves the EU without a deal in October. The shock government dossier warned Brexit will “amplify” potential looming risks to the Irish economy. The report also warned Dublin could face food, medicine and energy shortages, chaos at airports and ports and an influx of EU fishermen targeting Irish waters if Britain leaves the bloc without a deal on October 31.” (link)
Strange, isn’t it, how the warnings are nearly identical to those we received should we ‘crash out’. Read the whole thing, it’s not paywalled.
And now – the ‘big news’, the delicious news, the EU and Brussels News! Last week, the new Brexit negotiator, David Frost, went to Brussels. We don’t know what he said – remember, Government ‘Leakers’ will now be punished! – but by gawd, he seems to have put the frighteners on Brussels. Reports here and here and (paywalled) here show this nicely.
It is actually quite extraordinary and it illustrates how Brussels has been relying on our own Remain Traitors, especially those in the HoC, in their efforts to stop Brexit:
“EU officials had been confident that Mr Johnson would not force Britain out without a deal but meetings with his senior adviser David Frost last week have changed their minds […]: “Our working hypothesis is now no deal,” said an EU source after the meeting, where diplomats agreed they could not rely on MPs to prevent a disorderly withdrawal. “It was clear UK does not have another plan,” a senior EU diplomat said of the meetings with Mr Frost. “No intention to negotiate, which would require a plan. A no deal now appears to be the UK government’s central scenario”. (paywalled link)
However, given the hard attitude now displayed in 10 Downing Street, the plaintive EU ‘accusation’ that there’s no UK ‘plan’ is no longer working – see this:
“EU officials are now viewing the October EU summit in Brussels as the “no deal Brexit summit”, whereas before they had expected EU-27 leaders to mull over another British request to extend the Article 50 deadline. It comes as Mr Frost, known as Mr Johnson’s EU sherpa, reportedly told the EU that Britain planned to negotiate a free trade agreement with Brussels after a no deal Brexit.” (paywalled link)
Perhaps it’s dawning on EU ‘diplomats’ that their stonewalling might be counter-productive:
“Brussels is still expected to ask for a backstop style solution for the Irish border and payment of the £39 billion pound Brexit bill as a condition for opening trade talks after no deal. Diplomats are now waiting to hear what Mr Johnson tells EU leaders when he meets them in the margins of the G7 meeting in France later this month but there is no expectation that will change the situation.” (paywalled link)
Brussels is ‘expected to ask for …’ – not demand, just ask, in the knowledge that it may not be given … lovely! Finally, and do note the last sentence:
The Prime Minister’s spokesman reiterated that removing the “undemocratic” backstop from [sic!] would represent “significant progress”, suggesting that the government could be tempted to bring the Brexit deal back to the Commons if the major concession was made.” (paywalled link)
And there, right at the end, we have the ‘kicker’: if the EU, now a bit shaken, were to re-open the May WA because: money!, Johnson could be tempted to present it to the HoC yet again. You really have to watch them like hawks!
That is why we cannot trust the Tories. And when we read that ‘Up to 30 Labour MPs are prepared to vote for a Brexit deal if Boris Johnson secures fresh concessions from Brussels’ (paywalled link, non-paywalled report here) we know that we also cannot trust Labour.
So as always – stay vigilant! We’re not “Out” until we really are ‘Out’! Until then,