It’s getting exciting! The MPs are trickling back and the plotting intensifies. Yesterday we had the Corbyn get-together of Remainers hoping to oust Johnson and getting someone, anyone, into no 10. We had the Hammond crowd flexing their muscles, we had Johnson and Leave MPs telling that Remain lot off, we had TBP announcing their slate of candidates for a GE and in a most interesting piece of news we have the Opposition getting upset that the Government is … governing …!
Let’s look at that horrible event first. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sajid Javid, announced that he would not give a speech tomorrow:
“Sajid Javid discloses that he will announce the outcome of a one-year spending review next Wednesday which will increase expenditure on schools, the police and NHS. However, he plays down expectations of a pre-Brexit spending spree and pledges to stick to the Tories’ fiscal rules which have governed expenditure for much of the past decade. On Tuesday afternoon Mr Javid cancelled a speech he was due to make in Birmingham on Wednesday, his first to set out his economic approach as Chancellor. There had been growing speculation that he was preparing to abandon the fiscal rules to raise spending to bolster the economy amid Brexit uncertainty, but this now appears to have been ruled out.” (paywalled link)
Of course this was immediately condemned:
“John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, said: ‘Sajid Javid is getting a record of announcing events and initiatives, and then within hours cancelling or reversing them. ‘This doesn’t inspire confidence. Panic seems to be setting in inside government.’ (link)
Were Mr McDonnell Chancellor, none of that would happen! There would be strict fiscal prudence, like his predecessor’s, a certain Gordon Brown … Speaking of whom, he’s cropped up in the news all of a sudden as well:
“Gordon Brown has suggested that a no-deal could be stopped “dead in its tracks” with a bill stipulating that the government could not go ahead with it “until a report has been prepared on the consequences of a no-deal”. “You could get a majority in the House of Commons for that,” the former prime minister suggested. Maybe so, but passing that bill would be no great achievement given it would be largely toothless. The UK cannot stop a no-deal Brexit happening just by declaring it illegal as it would still happen under international law.” (paywalled link)
That leads us seamlessly to the reports on the Corbyn-instigated meeting of Opposition leaders yesterday. A non-paywalled report is here, a paywalled one here. Corbyn has apparently climbed down and abandoned his idea of a GNU, with him in No 10:
“The meeting, attended by the SNP’s Ian Blackford, Jo Swinson of the Liberal Democrats, the Green party’s Caroline Lucas and the Independent Group for Change’s Anna Soubry, agreed to focus efforts on forcing through legislation to stop no-deal. The group also discussed opposing holding the regular parliamentary recess over the party conference period in late September, in order to give MPs more time to pass legislation.” (paywalled link).
Asa Bennett sums it up perfectly in the DT:
“Judging by the statement put out by the leaders of the Labour Party, SNP, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, the Green Party and the Independent Group for Change after their first meeting, all they did was tell each other how much they hated the Prime Minister and a no-deal Brexit, then agree to have more meetings. Mr Corbyn and his fellow opposition leaders claim they are ready to do anything to stop a no-deal Brexit. But if the best they can agree on is more can-kicking and posturing, they are not going to get anywhere.” (paywalled link)
“Philip Hammond is preparing to spearhead efforts to block a no-deal Brexit, it emerged on Tuesday night, after Jeremy Corbyn appeared to shelve plans for a no confidence vote in the Government. Allies of the former chancellor have told The Daily Telegraph that he intends to become the “cheerleader” for a cross-party plan to force Boris Johnson to delay Brexit by several months. One said Mr Hammond wants to play “as full a role as possible” in efforts to force through backbench legislation ruling out no-deal, adding that he “wants to do what needs to be done.” […] Tory rebels determined to block no-deal intend to seize control of Parliamentary business in order to push through legislation compelling Mr Johnson to seek another Article 50 extension.” (paywalled link)
A fine cheerleader, that! No wonder that Johnson sees this as sabotaging Brexit and his Brexit plans! Here’s a fine headline in the DM which says it all: “’They’re sabotaging the UK’: Boris Johnson slams Jeremy Corbyn’s rabble alliance accusing them of undermining Brexit negotiations as Opposition leaders agree to seize control of Parliament to stop No Deal” (link) and here’s RemainCentral:
“Boris Johnson has accused opposition MPs of attempting to “sabotage” Britain’s negotiations with the European Union after they announced plans to thwart a no-deal Brexit. […] Mr Johnson believes that the EU no longer sees the existing Irish backstop, which has been the main sticking point, as “sacrosanct”. (link, paywalled)
Moreover, ‘a source’ has talked with the DT and since we know that there aren’t unauthorised leaks or similar stuff, this looks to be the reason why No 10 is properly miffed by these Brexit-wrecker Games:
“A Number 10 source said: “We are now making progress because our European partners realise we are serious about leaving the EU on October 31 – no ifs, no buts. It’s utterly perverse that Corbyn and his allies are actively seeking to sabotage the UK’s position.This coalition of anti-democrats should be honest with the British public, they are against us leaving the EU no matter what. The Government believes politicians don’t get to choose which public votes they respect.” (paywalled link)
That sounds like a Dominic-Cummins-original! I cannot help but wonder if all this sound and fury signifies anything because, as always, the main issue is not talked about, at least not openly:
“A number of so-called “Spartans”, including David Davis, the former Brexit secretary, have said they want further changes to the withdrawal agreement beyond the removal of the backstop, an insurance policy to keep the Irish border open. But the prime minister’s spokesman said: “We have been clear the changes we are seeking relate to the backstop.” (link, paywalled)
Hm. Are the Tory Brexiteers truly keeping their eyes on the real issue, the WA, or are they also getting wobbly on that WA? Reading between the lines, No 10 again ‘confirmed’ that we must not take our eyes off that particular ball:
“Downing Street confirmed that during a phone call with Mr Juncker on Tuesday evening Mr Johnson said that the UK would be leaving the European Union on October 31 “whatever the circumstances” and that “we absolutely want to do so with a deal”. But a No 10 spokesman added: “The PM was also clear, however, that unless the withdrawal agreement is reopened and the backstop abolished, there is no prospect of that deal.” (link, paywalled)
I am sure we can all see how this might be sold to us: the backstop is abolished which meant the WA had been opened and that is now ‘The Deal’ under which we and the EU can happily live ever after – we in EU vassalage, the EU by still keeping their boots on our necks.
Nigel Farage is certainly keeping his eyes on that No Deal ball. Yesterday, TBP presented their candidates for all constituencies for a coming GE (link). Here’s the key announcement:
“Nigel Farage has offered to work hand in hand with Boris Johnson at the next election as long as the prime minister unequivocally backs a no-deal Brexit. At a Brexit Party campaign launch yesterday Mr Farage said that he would be willing to consider signing a “non- aggression pact” with the Tories. Although he is selecting candidates in every seat, Mr Farage indicated some could step aside to support Tory Brexiteers. “We’ll work out who the people to do deals with and who the people are not to do deals with,” he said at the event in Westminster. “If Boris Johnson is prepared to do the right thing for the independence of this country, then we would put country before party and do the right thing. We would be prepared to work with him, perhaps in the form of a non-aggression pact.” (link, paywalled)
The battle lines are drawn. The politicians, now back in their comfort zone that is Westminster Village, better take heed. They may plan their Brexit-wrecking games and No 10 may bluster in public while coming to agreements with the EU. These may be nothing but a make-over of the WA with just the Backstop removed. That’s why we are watching like hawks!
We cannot afford to become complacent. Our demand stands: a proper Brexit, not a BoJo BRINO! So, as always –