So they went and did it … after spending the morning listening to the one (!) candidate to replace M Juncker, and after ‘grilling’ her, the coalition MEPs who didn’t want her crumbled: Ursula von der Leyen (vdL) was duly elected:
“Mrs von der Leyen narrowly secured the majority vote in the parliament of 374 votes by nine votes. 383 MEPs voted for her, 327 against, while 22 abstained and one vote was void.” (paywalled link)
According to the rules, she needed 374 votes which she just about got. She will start her job on November 1st – a rather interesting date you will agree.
“She had the declared backing of the three mainstream, pro-EU groups — the center-right European People’s Party, the Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats, and the centrist-liberal Renew Europe group.” (link)
In her speech to rally MEP votes, vdL made some lovely promises:
“Mrs von der Leyen overcame opposition from the Greens, some Socialists and the far-right after a 30 minute speech in which she dared MEPs to reject the first woman nominated for the commission presidency in the secret ballot. She vowed to ensure “full gender equality” among her incoming commissioners, who are nominated by national governments. Mrs von der Leyen, a close ally of Angela Merkel with a patchy record as Germany’s defence minister, said she would propose adding violence against women to the list of crimes defined in the EU’s Treaty. She also promised a “Green Deal” aimed at making Europe carbon neutral by 2050, a mandatory minimum wage across the EU and plans to make tech giants pay a fair share of tax.” (paywalled link)
It is no surprise that Nigel Farage was incandescent:
“When he heard the news that the German Defence Minister had been elected, he embarked on a ferocious tirade against what he saw as a “fanatical” leader: “She’s won it by nine votes… unbelievable. […] So that is the course of Europe for the next five years – it is more centralisation, it is more power to the European commission. There is no reform, there is no democratisation. This parliament has been walked all over in this process over the last few weeks.” (link)
Ms van der Leyen’s promises are just dripping with lefty-greeny-feminist policies, but on one point she is as pigheaded as her predecessor, and that is Brexit:
“ Mrs Von der Leyen vowed to defend the withdrawal agreement, putting her at odds with the next prime minister. “The withdrawal agreement concluded with the government of the UK provides certainty,” she said. “It protects the rights of citizens and peace and stability on the island of Ireland — these two priorities are mine too.” She added that her commission would be willing to give Britain another extension to Brexit, beyond October 31 to find a way out of the impasse.” (link, paywalled)
I bet our Remainers are now hopeful that we can get another extension – and another. Our broadsheets are happy to point out that a certain Mr Selmayr is now obliged to resign from his powerful post, see RemainCentral:
“Mrs Von der Leyen’s victory seals the political fate of Martin Selmayr, the secretary-general of the commission, nicknamed the Monster, who will step down within days or weeks.” (link, paywalled)
and see the Daily Telegraph:
“Martin Selmayr, the German controversial secretary general of the commission, announced he would resign in accordance with Brussels tradition that dictates no two people of the same nationality can hold the EU’s executive’s most powerful posts.” (paywalled link)
The spotlight is now back on our own Brexit betrayers. We’ve seen over the weekend that Ms Amber Rudd MP has suddenly found it within herself to support a No Deal Brexit should it be unavoidable, shedding her ‘principled’ stand against it, in support of Ms May’s WA, like a snake sheds her skin.
Now we read that suddenly Mr Michael Gove MP has made conciliatory noises towards BoJo, saying he’d make a ‘great PM’. Here’s a report which explains it. Both are simply desperately trying to ensure that they can keep their jobs as ministers. That’s all that needs to be said about the character of our ‘betters’.
Two more ‘developments’, i.e. ‘what Boris might do next’, are being talked about in our MSM. One is that he allegedly ‘is plotting’ to hold an early GE ‘while Jeremy Corbyn is still around’ (see here). The Times has been speaking to ‘sources’ and put flesh on this plan or plot. Here’s a bit of background:
“Sir Edward’s team [Sir Edward Lister is charged with overseeing Mr Johnson’s first 100 days in power if he wins the leadership] is said to be preparing for a general election either being forced on the party in a vote of no confidence or Mr Johnson having to call a snap election once Brexit was delivered.” (link, paywalled)
And here are the thoughts of those Tory ‘sources’ The Times reporters chatted with:
“One senior member of Mr Johnson’s team told The Times: “There’s a desire to get this done while Corbyn is still around. Labour is utterly divided — Brexit is killing them. Labour is in no fit state to fight a general election.” There is concern among Mr Johnson’s team that the Labour leader could be forced to stand down after bruising rows within the party over Brexit and antisemitism. Another member of Mr Johnson’s team said: “Jeremy Corbyn being opposition leader is a positive for us. It means we don’t have to spend time doing the groundwork we’ve already done on him on his successor.” (link, paywalled)
In other words – Brexit, as we’ve said so many times, is just a playball used by our politicians to cement their position in power, speculations about and preparations for a GE being part of it.
Thus it comes as no surprise that the other ‘development’ is another speculation, this time about the bugbear which has been agitating the minds of MPs and others so ferociously: proroguing Parliament. This is how it’s supposed to work:
“Boris Johnson could use his first Queen’s Speech to shut parliament and prevent MPs blocking a no-deal Brexit, it was claimed last night. […] Parliament usually closes for a week or two before a Queen’s Speech, in which the government sets out its legislative plans. With parliament closed, MPs could not vote against no-deal. Some MPs warned that the move would be a constitutional “outrage”. Guto Bebb, a former Conservative minister, told Sky News that he believed Mr Johnson’s campaign was “quite seriously contemplating” using a Queen’s Speech to suspend parliament. However, sources close to Mr Johnson said last night that he had “no plans” to hold a Queen’s Speech in early November. They stressed that he wanted an agreement with Brussels.” (link, paywalled)
You’ll have noticed that the ones who are surmising that this is what Johnson might do are outraged about something that is not a declared policy by Johnson. Still, it gets them into the papers, see e.g. here.
Of course, the Arch Remainer Dominic Grieve just has to stir that particular pot:
“Dominic Grieve, the former attorney-general, said that MPs may have to vote to bring down the government to stop a no-deal Brexit. […] Mr Grieve, who has led parliamentary efforts to try to prevent a no-deal, accused Mr Johnson of trying to appease hardline Brexiteers. He told Today on BBC Radio 4 that when it came to “blocking no-deal, technically that may be quite difficult”. He added: “If a government persists in trying to carry out a no-deal Brexit, I think that the administration is going to fall.” (link, paywalled)
Apparently, as far as Mr Grieve is concerned, it’s the Remainers in the HoC who should be appeased – because 17.4 million Leave voters were wrong. In an opinion piece in the DM jack Doyle states:
“To stop a No Deal Brexit, Dominic Grieve is prepared to bring down the next Tory government, tear the Conservative Party apart and risk putting Jeremy Corbyn into No 10 Downing Street. That is the only logical conclusion from the threat he made on the Today programme yesterday morning: to vote against the next prime minister in a confidence motion with the intention of sparking a general election. It is an extraordinary thing for a Tory MP to say …” (source)
Indeed it is, which leads me to conclude that the hints dropped about BoJo’s team preparing for a GE were given to the MSM at this particular time to counter Mr Grieve and consorts.
While the Tory Leadership Campaign goes into the last round, while the EU Parliament has gone and done it and set the way it will go for the next five years, while summer trundles on and while everybody is too tired with this sorry and disgusting spectacle of getting us out, we still have to watch what “They” are doing and