A Brexit Gamble

A surprising constitutional maneuver in the UK has people over there a little stirred up.
Prorogation, which suspends parliament from sitting in a period it might otherwise be expected to sit, is an accepted right of a sitting government. But it has never been applied in a manner such as this: as a means of denying parliamentary action opposed by the government. Johnson denies that this is his intent, but few believe him.

By sending members of parliament back to their constituencies in early September and then returning them on Oct. 14th, Johnson has significantly shortened the time they will have to pass legislative alternatives to his Brexit plan. With a final European Council meeting scheduled for Oct. 17th, unless an emergency follow up meeting is held, European leaders will have to accept Johnson's proposals to avoid a no-deal Brexit, or else accept a no-deal Brexit as is.
Good luck, says I.


E Hines said...

As I'll be saying in a post on my blog in a day or two, it's time for this feckless band of MPs to get out of the way, go home, and contemplate their navels.

There are serious risks, though, that make this a strategically questionable move. While it's very likely that prorogation will result in an on-time departure from the EU, with or without a deal governing the terms of the exit, it's entirely possible that the associated hue and cry will lead to new elections (possibly triggered by a successful no-confidence vote in November) and a new, non-Tory government installed.

That government is very likely to go, hat twisting in hand, to Brussels and beg for reentry into the EU. What then? What would be the result on British sovereignty; British economic and political welfare; indeed, British self-respect in such an eventuality?

Even if that new government doesn't go begging, what else could happen? The alternative to a Johnson-led Tory, sort-of conservative, government is a Corbyn-led Labour government. That means the prosperity of a limited (relatively, within the constraints of British concepts) government that Margaret Thatcher made so much progress toward and that Johnson would seek to preserve and extend would be entirely undone by the destructively socialist government that Corbyn would install.

What then of British economic and political welfare; of British self-respect?

Eric Hines

E Hines said...

Meant to add:

Still, it's worth the risk.

Eric Hines

Christopher B said...

I think this is an 'Amazon fires' story, at least according to a couple of articles I've read and a little research. The Parliament website (parliament.uk) indicates that this Parliament was already intended to be prorogued (essentially the same as the termination of a Congress in the US except it's a five year period and the timing is a bit more irregular) in the summer of 2019, and a recess was already scheduled for 25 July to 3 September. The time off is usually around two to three weeks but it's hard to tell exactly how long this one is planned for from the article. There appears to be nothing unusual or uncustomary about what Boris Johnson asked for, except maybe a slightly longer period.

Christopher B said...

Yup, "Amazon Fires" that are a crisis only because the Brazil government is right-wing.

"A constitutional outrage”, declared the Speaker, John Bercow; “a very British coup”, said the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell. Not to be outdone, Nicola Sturgeon added “the day any semblance of British democracy died”. Some have compared the situation to 1628, when Charles I prorogued parliament before dispensing with its services entirely. But Charles I was not, unless the history books are grievously mistaken, faced with the problem of implementing the outcome of a referendum.

It is time perhaps to tone down the rhetoric and consider the facts. The five-week prorogation appears longer than it is because it includes the three weeks of the party conference season, when parliament does not normally sit. Parliament therefore loses two weeks. In 2014 there was a longer prorogation of 20 days, though that included the period of the European parliament elections and the Whitsun recess.