Monday, 2 September 2019

Just another speech


If compelled by parliament to seek out a "pointless" extension, Boris Johnson will call an election. That is essentially the one and only message from today. It looks as though a vote on a new measure, led by Hilary Benn, to force an an extension will pass in parliament. Therefore we must assume an election is in the offing.

The polls presently give the Tories a comfortable lead but as we know from last time, polls mean dick. What we do know is that Labour's vagueness over Brexit will see a mass migration to the Lib Dems who also stand to gain from the Tories. With the remain vote split three ways and Brexit party votes likely to go to Johnson, the Tories can probably win -  even possibly by a landslide. Impossible to call.

This is all contingent on the election not being a re-run of the referendum with a clear remain contintingent hoovering up the votes. But general elections don't work like that and it would be unprecedented. So it looks like we are still on course to leave and probably without a deal since the EU is not going to budge on the backstop. Effectively, by trying to force Johnson's hand, parliament will give Johnson a larger majority, a clear run at a full term and a renewed mandate. Easy to see why Labour doesn't want an election. Corbyn especially.

Like much else the remainers have foisted upon us, it looks as though this whole exercise is wholly futile. They're not in a position to stop a no deal Brexit and they squandered their only three chances so it looks like there is no material change in circumstances. If there is a nuance to this situation it escapes me having had my political instincts deadened by weeks of relentless tedium.

The one complication in all this is that a motion to call a general election may be defeated, in which case Johnson can still fudge the situation by adding impossible conditions to any request for an extension ensuring the EU cannot agree to one. Any law requiring Johnson to ask for an extension is probably exceeding the authority of parliament so its legality and scope can be challenged and/or probably ignored.

Though Johnson today lied through his teeth when he said we were getting closer to a deal, the one thing he's right about is that any extension would be wholly pointless. With Johnson insisting on removing the backstop there is no chance of reaching a deal and even if a deal were reached parliament wouldn't ratify it. Parliament has nothing further to add to the process. All they're capable of is stalling tactics and they are never going to arrive at a coherent position between them.

That is essentially why I'm calling for no deal. It is not a viable destination and will cause enormous harm but Brexit still has to be delivered and this permanent state of deadlock is no use to anybody. Moreover, much of the damage is already done with investment decisions now made, banking on no deal as a given. It's pointless to hope for a more reasoned outcome.

Should there be an election, though, I think I'll be sitting this one out. What I want, ie an orderly exit from the EU is simply not on offer. I will not vote for a no deal party and I will not give a mandate to Boris Johnson. My vote is wholly useless. It now falls to the extremes to fight it out between themselves. No deal might be the only way to leave the EU given the current impasse but the leave camp is just as responsible for this situation and I will not reward it with a vote. Throughout leavers have taken all leave voters for granted. There is a price for that hubris.

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