Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Playing with fire

I'm not a constitutional expert. There are a million opinions today and adding my ignorance to the existing mountain is of no value. But then I don't especially care about this particular distraction. Obviously it does raise some interesting constitutional questions about the order of things that will need to be addressed in the future. Not least the question of why parliament needs the likes of Gina Miller to do their dirty work for them. Why can't they assert themselves if parliament is sovereign?

But the main event is still Brexit. The question now is what parliament can usefully do with the time they've been granted. There's no new deal to vote on, and no deal is still the legal default having failed to ratify a withdrawal agreement, so it seems their options are limited. It is unlikely they can force a fresh referendum so the best they can do is dive in with a vote of no confidence to force an election.

That then makes it all about timing, raising the question of whether an extension is needed. I think it safe to say that the EU probably will grant an extension albeit with a sense of exhaustion just to evade blame for the failure of the process, but I suspect we shall soon be back here again. I think Boris Johnson will probably win a general election simply because a Corbyn government would be unimaginably awful. Moreover, Johnson now has his people versus parliament narrative.

That then means Johnson has options. With a loyal majority and with some of the deadbeats kicked out, a deal of some kind can be passed if presented to parliament, or he can simply wind down the clock again with nothing much to stop him. Either way it would render this whole Miller charade a complete waste of time. And that smells about right doesn't it? It fits with the pattern of wasting time and accomplishing nothing.

The bottom line here is that the remainers just don't have the unity, coherence or the numbers to stop Brexit. There is only one way for them to stop Brexit and that is to take power - which just isn't going to happen. But say I'm wrong about this. Just imagine what happens if a LibLab coalition can be cobbled together. There's no way they can revoke without a referendum and it's difficult to see what any new referendum would ask that would pass the fairness test.

Conceivably they could connive to keep us in the EU and they would do so without hesitation, or any self-awareness as to the "optics" of that - a government that couldn't win an election outright conspiring to overthrow a referendum to force our continued membership of the EU despite a majority having voted to leave. I can think of no better way to start a long war in British politics where their victory would eventually taste as bitter as defeat.

At this point, the EU will be considering carefully if it even wants a disruptive, obstructionist and resentful member. Remaining is as much a non-solution for the EU as it is the UK. It doesn't do much for the EU's international standing when one of its leading members is held hostage by its elites. The British problem then becomes a permanent feature in all future dealings. This is not sustainable.

Whatever remainers think it is they can accomplish with all these underhanded shenanigans, what escapes them is that they can only really force us into a temporary situation. The genie does not go back in the bottle. In respect of that, they are as guilty as the Brexiteers in failing to have a plan and no viable destination. This whole debacle has been a shot in the arm for the eurosceptic cause and the constitutional sore is only going to get worse. We will be back here again only next time it won't be strictly a matter of EU membership. It'll be an all out war that makes 2016 look like a minor bar brawl.

Ultimately the only way to break this political stalemate is to leave the EU. We cannot progress until we do. Until the question is answered once and for all Britain will exists in a state of limbo suffering from a corrosive uncertainty and a toxified politics. This boil needs lancing lest the patient go septic. Remainers really haven't thought this through.

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